Rector’s Palace, Dubrovnik

Rain and thunder indoors?!

It was tipping it down and, as beautiful as Dubrovnik old town is, we were a bit sick of being so wet! We went looking for somewhere to dry off and found two beautiful places. The first was a wine bar, tiny in size and decorated with hundreds of used corks. It was elegant enough to feel special, but not too upmarket that we felt out of place in our rain gear. The atmosphere was really friendly and after a couple of glasses, we felt brave enough to head back out into the rain.

Running across to the Rector’s Palace, we didn’t know quite what to expect, but the beautiful building was a gem, with lots of rooms filled with old furniture, paintings and trinkets. It gave us a real sense of Dubrovnik’s history and it was fascinating to read about the uses for the building and it’s customs (for example, the Rector couldn’t leave the building without permission of the Senate – as big as the building was, I’d have gone a little stir-crazy!). The building even had a dungeon, which was suitably dark and claustrophobic- an interesting contrast to the fancy rooms above.

The main hall’s ornate twisting staircase boasted an open roof over the centre of the square, which meant that the rain poured down through the middle of the building, leaving dry pathways around the edges of the walls. As we started up the stairs, thunder rolled out and we stopped on the landings to take in the scene. It may have been the wine from earlier, but there was something so powerful about the rain cascading down over the edge of the staircase as the lightning flashed above us. It may not have been the most picturesque place we visited on the trip, but it certainly created a memory that will stay with me for a long time.

Gluten Free in Split, Croatia

Toto’s Burger Place

Located right on the front of the pier, this little gem is really easy to find. With indoor and outdoor seating, it was a good place to sit and watch the world go by.

+ Staff were really knowledgeable about the contents of the food and offered suggestions to swap out ingredients and sauces that might not be suitable. They were also well aware of cross contamination too.

+ Lots of variety – burgers (with great tasting burger buns), pasta and salads that were all dairy and gluten free.

+ Quick service

+ Indoor and outdoor seating

Marta’s Veggie Fusion

Huddled down one of the winding streets inside the palace walls, Marta’s is a treat for Vegan / Gluten Free dietary needs. We were here twice – gorgeous food and very friendly staff. Top tip, get the chips to take away and sit on the steps outside Luxor to watch the live musicians play the night away.

+ Amazing chips!

+ Lots of choice

+ Gluten Free, dairy free and vegan

+ Eat in or take away

+ Huge portions

+ Can adapt meals to cater for dietary requirements

+ Cake!

BezGlutenski Svijet

Looking for something to help with self catering? This place is the one for you! This is a ‘free from’ shop with all of the essentials: bread, pasta, milk, frozen meals and treats – all gluten free, diary free and vegan.

+ Good range of products

+ Porridge pots – great for breakfast

+ Cooking products e.g. flour

+ Bread and sandwich fillers

+ Ready-Made meals

+ The best diary free ice cream!

+ Great for self catering travellers

Step By Step

Right around the corner from our apartment, this little restaurant was always busy. We bought vegan / gluten free muffins from here for breakfast and they do a gluten free pizza too.

+ Pizza!

+ Tasty Muffins – great for breakfasts!

Did we miss anywhere? Share your top tips in the comments!

Sunset Boat Trip

One of the best ways to get a sense of a place is to have a view of the shoreline. That way, you get to see the whole of the city, wrapped up, postcard perfect, containing everyone as they go about their lives. Split was no different and sailing away from the shore slowly removed the bustle of the city. The sounds faded. Our boat was quiet, and the sound of the sea soon took over.

The outline of towers and buildings set against the silhouette of the mountains in the distance was captivating. We had been promised incredible sunsets and Croatia delivered. I’m a bit of a sunset/ sunrise collector (see here for more pictures from our travels) and this was definitely one of the more memorable.

The further out to sea we traveled, the more the light faded, creating beautiful patterns on the waves. Lights glimmered from the houses on the shore and beach stragglers waved to the boat as we passed.

As the temperature dropped and we sat in near total darkness, the trip back to the city brought burning lights – creating a snapshot of a city brought to life.

Is that a Wizard or is he just taking a selfie?

One of the most striking sights around the Diocletian’s Palace is the huge statue of, what appears to be, a giant wizard.

We found him outside the Golden Gate of the palace, towering over the walls and surrounded by onlookers and two Roman guards (actually, two dudes in fancy dress, but who’s checking?!).

Despite looking like a wizard, the statue is actually of Grgur Ninski. Playing a huge role in preserving the old Croatian language and supporting catholic practices in local languages rather than in Latin, our tour guide described him as a symbol of national pride.

She told us a further story about how the statue had moved locations a number of times, with locals protecting it from destruction before it was located in its current resting place. The way our tour guide told it, the statue had been broken down into small pieces and hidden across different locations until it was safe to reunite the statue in a safer location.

The biggest stand out feature of the statue is his huge, shiny toe! The toe has been worn smooth by thousands of visitors rubbing it for good luck or to have their wishes granted. So much so that the toe is now a completely different colour to the rest of the statue.

Although an imposing statue, it feels completely at home in its current location, watching over the palace walls.

It’s stories like this that peppered our visit to Split, learning more about the history and culture from the stories of locals – in my opinion, that’s the best way to learn.