Our first port was Split, Croatia, a place that was completely missing from my list of places to visit. Not anymore-- take me back!
Our shore excursion was a tour of the town's historic area. Since everything in Europe is old to one degree or another, I was expecting some 500-year old buildings, short stories about the recent wars, etc.
I wasn't expecting to find myself in the middle of 1700-year old Roman ruins. Roman Emperor Diocletian set up his headquarters in Split during the 3rd century. He wasn't a nice guy, but instead of tearing down his palace when he died, the people decided to make it their own and continued to preserve and build around the city walls. The labyrinth-like area within the city walls is a jumble of Roman ruins, shops, apartment buildings, convents, and who knows what else.
We climbed the belfry of St. Dominius at Diocletian's mausoleum (now the cathedral of Split) and were rendered speechless by the view.
My favorite memory of Split is when we purchased doilies from a lady sitting in the park. Even though we spoke different languages, we had a really neat experience that I will never forget. I just finished a book (The Island of the World, one of the best books I have ever read) about Croatia and it makes me wonder what this sweet woman has seen during her years in this harsh and beautiful land.