Bus-ing Round the Balkans travel blog





I start today with a walk down to the bus station. And a chocolate cream filled croissant (why do we not have these at home?!) It only takes a little bit of miming on my part to buy my bus ticket to Mostar, Bosnia for Wednesday. That sorted I now have 2 full days in Split to do whatever I want.

This is the part I love about travelling on my own. I can make it up as I go along. And there's nobody to get in a stress with me if I decide to navigate around a city by instinct rather than using the map in my pocket - or if I just wander off absent-mindedly because I've spotted something interesting in the distance (I'm good at that)...

I visit Diocletian's Palace today. It's not so much a palace, as the living heart of the city within the Roman walls. And with plenty of interesting ruins and the like. I hadn't really known what to expect. It actually took my breath away when I came up to the "silver gate" with the cathedral belfry towering overhead.

Me being me I wanted to see as much as possible, so the rest of my day was mostly taken up wandering the narrow cobble stoned streets exploring the palace and old town. I also bought a joint ticket with access to the cathedral, treasury, temple of jupiter, the crypt, and the belfry.

The belfry. I had to climb it. Because it was there. And they let you climb it. It's a no brainer really.

And heck, climbing all those steps would be good exercise too. It never occurred to me it might be a bit scary. Until I was halfway up that is.

It was all going so well too. You start off on steep stone steps in an enclosed corridor. No problem. Then it opens up inside the tower and the stone steps are replaced with (rusty) metal steps running in a square spiral up the inside walls of the tower. With gaps in between each step so you can see down. All the way down.

That's fine, thinks I. There'll be landings along the way to break it up. Just don't pay attention to the gaping holes on my right where the arches are in the walls. Only a couple of metal handrails between me and tumbling out the side of the building. But that's fine too, I've climbed plenty of towers.

And then I made the mistake of glancing upwards to see how far until the next landing. And realised the next landing was the top of the belfry. Suddenly my legs felt a little wobbly.

I made it to the top though, where I looked out at the beautiful views of Split and the harbour, and wondered how I can be so afraid of heights when I've jumped out of a plane. By myself. Four times.

It's been a while, but from memory I think skydiving is statistically "safer" than driving. Plus you have a parachute, so when you jump out of that plane you get to glide down to the ground. Fall off a belfry and you go splat. I reckon that's what I'm actually afraid of - not the height.

But I digress. Turns out going back down was worse. Because you can see exactly how far you've got to fall, the whole way down. And just how easily you could slip under the railings and through one of those lovely arches out into the square below. I suspect it didn't help that the memory of falling hard down the stairs at home just two weeks before wasn't exactly boosting my confidence in my ability to safely climb up and down stairs.

I made it down again (clearly, or this journal would be bringing new meaning to the term "ghost writer"). I was a jittery mess though. So I went for ice cream. Ice cream just makes the world better. Chocolate ice cream even more so.

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