AMA Insider Spring 2018 / Over 55 - Page 34

Now split, croatia croatIa: sPlit Decisions A look at luxe living along Croatia’s Dalmation Coast t luxury, so it’s no surprise they found the landscapes, burgeoning wine production and all the must- haves of a Mediterranean diet to be attractive lures when they arrived on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. As my coach tour heads south along the coast, tour director Karin Kollarova sums up the essence of the destination: “Croatia is a great example of the mixture of past influences from so many neighbouring nations, which makes it such a fasci- nating country to explore.” The cornerstone in my weeklong tour of this eclectic country is Split, the larg- est city of the Dalmatian Coast. It dates back to the Greeks, who established the colony of Aspalathos in the sixth cen- tury BC. The Romans later created the Province of Dalmatia, and Emperor Diocletian, who ruled from AD 284 to 305, chose to retire here. Diocletian built his palace on the waterfront at the beginning of the fourth century. Today, his home in Old Town Split is one of the best-preserved Roman structures, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the heart of the Riva area of the old city. The palace’s 34 he roMAns loved their Spring 2018 AMA inSider underground complex is a series of rooms that once stored food and wine, but we see that some parts have been made into homes. Our guide tells us that, in later centuries, locals moved in and parts were also used to store water for Old Town Split. Today, TV fans flock here as it’s a filming location for Game of Thrones. In the palace court, we gaze at the soaring bell tower and snap photos of one of Diocletian’s favourite sculp- tures: a metre-high Egyptian sphinx. Now known as the Cathedral of Saint Dominus, the emperor’s former mausoleum was consecrated in the seventh century, and is considered to be the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world, retaining most of its original structure without any major renovations to date. Time has transformed the Old Town, as locals moved within the palace walls. Cobblestone corridors are now a maze of boutiques, cafés, studios and souve- nir shops. The buildings are made from Croatian limestone—the material of choice for centuries, as it’s easy to cut and has a luminous white shade. Often referred to as the gold standard of building materials, Croatian limestone was used extensively in Venice and even in the White House in Washington, DC. When planning your visit, try to visit in July when the average temperature is 28 C—perfect for leisurely lunches on sunny terraces. My group finds a corner table on one of Old Town’s picturesque patios. After ordering a bottle of Plavac Mali, Croatia’s rich red wine varietal, we offer up a toast to this country, which presents palate-pleasing vintages, a wealth of European history and a taste of Dalmatian hospitality. Paradise in the 21st century. —Waheeda Harris SEE IT WITH AMA croaTia’s cEnTral coasT pereGrine This 8-day cruise departs from split aboard a small ship with 40 or so other travellers. The yacht docks each evening so you can dine ashore in ports like Trogir, knornati and zadar, to sample croatian cuisine and wine. cruise includes 7 nights on-board accommodation, port activities, daily breakfast, 5 lunches and 4 dinners. From $2,750/person (cruise only) July & auGust departures FliGhts From $1,597/person call a cruise specialist 1-866-989-6594 Williams/alamy Where to Go