Sarajevo is a surprisingly difficult place to fly into/out of, without some heinous add-or flight routing. There’s basically three train routes from Sarajevo to Serbia (the one I took coming in) or Croatia (to Zagreb then on to Budapest, or out to Pula on the coast). Thus the main way folks travel hereabouts is via bus. I hat buses and will do most anything to avoid one.
A bus from Sarajevo to Split would take about 6 hours and cost about €30. Conversely on Croatian Airlines I could fly to Split via Zagreb. Even with a four hour connection it was slightly faster. At €85 it was worth it for the Aeroplan points (yay Star Alliance!) the folks at CA got good game: nice planes, charming crews, a bag o’ biscuits a big as your head for free on each flight. We even landed EARLY in Zagreb! Which I’ll get to in a second…
One of the flight attendants on the flight was clearly very new: I’d guess perhaps 25, with a lovely mop of blonde curls and the fit solid build of a sporty gal. Adorable. She was trying to get her drinks cart to the front when one of the wheel breaks–one of the front ones, on the other side of the cart–locked on her. Clearly working on intuition (and mindful that the flight is only 35 minutes long) she uses the cart as a vaulting horse and almost swings herself over the arm of an empty row. Almost because her follow foot JUST caught her heel–and she bounced off the bulkhead wall, landed on one foot, then looked around to see if anyone had seen.
Our eyes met, both of our hands went up to our mouths to suppress a giggle. “wow! So graceful” I said as we both laughed. Utterly charming!
I had been sitting on the fence about whether to dash into Zagreb with a 4 hour layover. 4.5 hours tipped me into the yes camp, so cleared passport control, and hopped on the Croatia Airlines bus, which had me in the city in 30 minutes. It was readily apparent to me that in less than 2 years Zagreb had really perked up. It was nice before: now it just buzzed. With a really great vibe. So I’m really looking forward to spending next weekend there before I fly home.
My main reason to hit Zagreb was to get a micro SIM for my iPad and a regular SIM for my mobile. VIP Hrvatska confirmed availability of both to me via email last month, so found their main shop in the CBD and left in short order with both. For 50 kuna I got 1GB data for a month, prepaid: $10, in other words. VIP’s agent configured it all for me too. VERY impressive! I was back at the airport with plenty of time and my flight to Split also landed slightly early. One more time on the CA bus, then off to my hotel.
The heart of Split is Diocletian’s Palace–an amazing historical gem–and the Kastel is right in the Palace. Awaiting me was a compact, nicely appointed AIR CONDITINED room. Would stay there again in a heartbeat.
On balance, arriving in Split at night works exceedingly well. The entire complex is compellingly lit, there’s low key live music, tons of cafés full of chatty nicotine-enhanced locals, and the whole scene screams “you’re in Europe dude, soak it up.” I probably too 100+ photos in 90 minutes.
The next morning I breakfasted, wandered ’round in beaming Adriatic daylight, survived a queue to get my catamaran ticket to Hvar, had some lunch and sailed for Hvar. Embarking on that ferry though: oy! You’d think we were trying to board the last helicopter from Saigon. Sheesh. I got my bag on th rack, found a nice window seat, a d settled in for our 50 minute trip to lovely Hvarrrrr…