Get some exercise in Split on the stunning Marjan Hill

| January 21, 2023 | 0 Comments

After the working day was done, I wanted to stretch my legs so visited the nearby Marjan Hill. This wooded hill lies just to the west of the city and is easily accessible from the neighbourhoods of Varoš and the Old Town. The broad stone steps at the start of the trail are easy to find and I was soon pumping my legs with each step and enjoying the exertion. The path was very well maintained and had nice benches thoughtfully placed along the route.

The well maintained path up Marjan Hill

I soon arrived at the lovely Café Vidilica, with fine views over Split and the Mosor mountains to the north protecting the city. I resisted the temptation to stop for a cold drink and continued on the path to the left of the café. Ten minutes later, I reached a beautiful old stone Church, one of many scattered across the hillside. I kept going past this and reached what looked like a meteorological station with a nearby playground. After a sweaty twenty minutes, I finally reached Telegrin, the summit of Marjan Hill at one hundred and seventy eight metres. A huge Croatian flag fluttered proudly in the wind on the opposite side to a giant crucifix. I enjoyed clear views of the Adriatic sea and the islands of Brač, Hvar and Šolta.

View of Split from the top of Marjan Hill

Afterwards, I descended southwards, this time on a rocky path leading through some pine woods. Unlike the way up, the path seemed disused and I was totally alone. Had I taken the wrong path? I felt slightly uneasy as I had no idea what unsavory characters lurked in the area and nobody knew I was here. Might I trample on a snake, I fretted, and die an agonizing death on this lonely Croatian hillside? Are there even snakes in Croatia I wondered to myself? (The answer is yes). So I was relieved to finally come to the main road again and see traffic and cyclists. The winding road led me to the church of St. Jerome, famous for the hermit caves built into the nearby cliffs. I’ve always been fascinated by cave dwellers for some reason. These monks lived in caves high up in the cliffs, similar to our Irish monks on the Skellig Islands.

The caves of hermit monks on Marjan Hill

Lovely Kasjuni Beach

Down below, I could see my final goal – Kasjuni Beach with the blue Adriatic lapping invitingly at its pebbled shores. From Google maps, I could see the main road looped far across the peninsula before doubling back on itself, meaning a long walk via that route. Looking for a shorter route to my swim, I spotted a rocky path that disappeared into some woods but suggested a more direct route. I stared at the path descending into the greenery and reasoned (more hoped actually) that it must lead to the main road below and decided to trust my gut. “No guts, no glory,” I thought to myself as I plunged into the unknown.

Thankfully, I was right and it led to the main road. I was soon on the beach and even though the sun had just disappeared, I quickly changed into my swimming shorts and dived into the sea. As I gently swam on my back, I watched the last red and orange hues of light draining from the sky. Here I was, on a Wednesday evening, swimming off the Dalmatian coast. Life was very sweet at that point. Very sweet indeed.

I celebrated with a can of beer I brought with me and a sandwich, which was pure bliss. After I dried off, I walked back towards Split. There was no footpath on the main road for part of the way but there was little traffic at that time anyway. I also had the option of waiting for the infrequent number 12 bus but I preferred to walk.

I bumped into my host Angela at the apartment. “Will you have a drink?” she asked. Does the Pope wear a hat? She welcomed me to her living room and introduced me to Kiki, her energetic Maltese pup and Mimi, the older, more sedate of the two. She poured a small glass of colourless liquid from a labelless bottle. “My husband got this raki from one of the local villages,” she said, handing me the glass. “It’s very good quality.” We toasted each other’s long life and health. It tasted as fiery as other raki I had sampled before but this warmed my throat instead of burning it. Kiki continued to use my bare leg as her personal plaything while mimi rested and looked on with disinterest.

“You are lucky with the weather.” Angela said as she refilled my glass. “The Boora wind has brought nice weather this last week.” I asked her what Boora was. “The local people call the wind from the north Boora. It’s generally a good wind, bringing clear skies and nice weather. Jugo is the wind from the south that brings rain and causes people to be in a bad mood.” She paused and seemed lost in some memory for a moment. “When people do stupid or crazy things, they say ‘Jugo made me do it’.”

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Category: Croatia, Split

About the Author ()

John Dwyer is a travel writer and blogger. His first book High Road to Tibet: Travels in China, Tibet, Nepal and India became an Amazon best-seller. His latest book Klondike House: Memories of an Irish Country Childhood recalls his years growing up on a rural farm in Ireland.

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