Welcome back to Ask a Local, a series of posts in which I interview locals all over the world about what to see, where to go, what to eat, and how to fit in in their city or town.
Today, I’m really excited to present my friend Martina, an actress and artist who performs in both English and Croatian, and who has graciously agreed to share her city with us via interview.
First, tell us a little about you.
I am 33 years old and I am an actress. I was born in Split and lived there for my first 18 years. Since then, I live and work abroad, stopping by to visit and stay with my parents in between trips. During my most recent trip to Split, I was unemployed, so for me every day was different. My favorite things to do in Split are going for walk on Marjan, having coffee with my parents in our favorite cafe, Dvor on Bačvice, and hanging around the most beautiful part of Split, Peristil.
Tell us a little about your culture and the town.
Well, Croatian culture is, in a way, a mixture of cultures. After all, Croatia was always under the rule of some other countries. At the same time, Croatian culture is getting more and more purified since Croatia gained independence in 1991.
About Split I am always proudly pointing out that it is almost 2,000 years old and has rich, amazing history. If you come to Diocletian’s Palace, you can feel the history.
If someone is visiting Split for the first time, what would you recommend they see or do?
Definitely go to Peristil and the old town. Go to the cafe place Vidilica (at the hill Marjan) to have a coffee and enjoy the view. Take a walk on Marjan. If you come in the summer, go to some nearby beaches and enjoy the sea (my special favorites are Kasjuni and Meje).
What neighborhoods or parts of town are the best to stay in?
I was born and grew up in Meje and I still think it is the best and most beautiful area of city. Also, the area with houses just downhill from Marjan is nice, then Bacvice (the richest part of city), and the area around the wood (Gripe). My favorite area is around a street called Istarska. All these areas areclose to the center and very beautiful to walk around, with nice beaches and coffee places.
Let’s talk about day trips…what nearby places should everyone make sure to visit?
Definitely to some of the islands: Solta, Brac, Hvar, etc., any island is worth visiting! Also, though they aren’t really day trips, cities like Dubrovnik (for me, the most beautiful place in Croatia) and Mostar in Bosnia are close and offer a totally different atmosphere.
Tell us about local dishes. What kind of food should people try here in Dalmatia?
What are your top three restaurants or bars? Where’s the best place to get an ice cream cone?
Fife for good local meal on a low budget. Caffe Zbirac for a nice view and good coffee. Caffe Vidilica for a truly great view. And the cafe and cake place, Kuća Sladoleda, is the best place for ice cream and cakes.
Is there anything that tourists do that Croatians find rude? Any way we can better fit in with the culture?
Many tourists walk around almost naked all summer, as Croatia is very hot and the beaches are very close to the city center. But don’t forget that Croatia is a conservative culture and many people in restaurants and cafe bars find it impolite. So at least put on a t-shirt when you leave the beach.
Also, avoid littering or getting loud and drunk.
What’s the best way to make local friends here?
Try to get somebody to invite you for coffee or invite somebody yourself! Croatians do many things over coffee: breaking up, becoming friends, etc.
Where should I go to take the best photos of the town and/or region?
Vidilica (mentioned above several times) has the best view. Other than that, I don’t know…Maybe the mountain Mosor, which is close to Split and has amazing views and nice, cheap domestic food.
Anything else you want us to know about your hometown?
Come in May or September: that’s the best time of year…and cheaper!
Finally, and importantly, what does a rooster say?