Split to Čiovo: Avoid Traffic, Travel By Boat
It is Saturday the 12th August 2017, tempers are as high as temperatures and traffic congestion combined with heat wave Lucifer, is making the usual picturesque Adriatic Coast look more like a bad sitcom than the holiday you had in mind. Welcome to Croatia in August.
It is in the middle of the season; those of us who live in Split or surrounding areas and work in hospitality or tourism are at our wits’ end. The heat has been paralysing. Unlike holidaymakers who flock to the beaches, excited for yet another day swimming, soaking in the sun and having their first ice cream before midday; those of us who need to work, are clinging to shadows, hiding in air-conditioning and hoping like hell we do not need to be anywhere near the centre or roads.
I live in Dugi Rat, just over 20 kilometres from Split. A drive that should takes 30 – 40 minutes, now takes a gruelling 1 – 2 hours. One of my best friends lives on Čiovo, we have been meaning to catch up all summer, but have barely managed to with conflicting work commitments and the 50-something kilometres of traffic between us.
We finally planned to catch up yesterday. After a few failed attempts through the season, another friend and I were determined to get to her house on Čiovo and chill. Though I was not looking forward to the journey in the slightest. When my friend Jona asked if we should go by bus or by ferry to Čiovo, there was no hesitation whatsoever – by boat.
I knew of the Bura Line that runs between Split – Slatine and Trogir, but I had never used it, so I had no idea how it worked, nor how long it took. For all I cared, the boat could take 2 hours, anything to avoid another bus.
However, I still had the pleasant ride from Dugi Rat to Split to look forward to. After looking on line, we decided to go on the 11.15 from Split to Slatine. I left my house just after 9 am, to make sure I allowed plenty of time. After almost two hours on a packed, shoulder-to-shoulder on one of the hottest days on record, on a bus with no air-conditioning was not what I would wish on anyone.
I got off the bus at 10.45 (hot and irritable), assuming we had plenty of time. Considering it was peak season, I was very nonchalant about buying tickets and, did very little research (bad journalist). I walked into the Jadrolinija office in the tourist palace at the beginning of the Riva, thinking you could purchase tickets there, only to be told it was a separate company (I should know that) and we could buy tickets aboard.
As we weaved our way through the throngs of tourists, some people paying no attention to spatial awareness nor common-courtesy, we got to the end of the Riva where the Bura Line was, to see them untying ropes from the dock – it was 11 am! Čekaj (wait), I yelled in Croatian, thankfully we rushed and jumped on the ferry just in time (since when is anything in Croatia ahead of time?)
I was almost pissed that they had left early, as we nearly missed the boat, but the staff were kind (even while having a bit of a laugh at our expense) and the fact is – they waited for us, this is a transport win in peak-season. As I looked around my nerves instantly calmed, it wasn’t packed, we were on a boat with a perfect breeze blowing against our skin as we cruised along the Adriatic away from crowds, traffic and horrific bus rides. Bliss.
The ride was over in no time, as Čiovo is only two kilometres from the cape of Marjan hill. Driving from Split would have taken minimum one hour (more like 1.5), whereas this was a pleasant trip, taking in the coastline, and we were in Slatine in around 20-minutes.
Why have I never done this before? It was one of the more relaxed forms of travel in a while (read about my taxi nightmare in Dubrovnik here).
We sat on the beach in Slatine with a cup of coffee, waiting for our friend to collect us and I thought – how lucky am I to live in a place which gives me the option to travel by ferry or boat?!
The next day we, of course, opted for returning via the same line, feeling full of confidence from our easy experience the day before – no crowds, no queues, straight on and off… We were again, perhaps a little nonchalant in our approach to travel in peak season. The ferry was 11.45 am and we turned up at 11.15, to see a healthy line forming.
A much smaller ferry than the previous day, filled up quickly and set sail without us Shit. As I turned to look behind me, the line had grown substantially; so, I felt safe in the knowledge that there had to be another boat because while they timetable said the next ferry was at 14.30, there was no way they could reject this many people…
Thankfully the heat of previous days had subsided somewhat, and we welcomed the sight of grey clouds. However, apparently, this doesn’t make for better manners or calm amongst those queuing. We watched people casually meander up the sides of the queue placing themselves at the beginning, pushing in front of at least 50 people along their way with a ‘zero f**** given’ attitude.
At least ten people walked past us, one more and I was ready to give them a piece of my mind. Luckily, we reached the front, purchased our ticket and waited to board the ferry (25 kuna per person, around the same price as a bus). It was much more crowded than our trip the day before, and I realised we really struck it lucky. Still, being on the water, with fresh sea-salt air, is better than being on a bus thick with frustrations, bodies and all sorts of odours, any day.
Though I still had the traffic and bus trip to look forward to…
Moral of the story:
• Buy your tickets in advance, don’t leave it to chance like we did.
• Get to your ferry early – especially the catamarans and ferries to Hvar
• The Bura Line is a fabulous, fast, easy way to get to Čiovo or Trogir
• Queuing etiquette: don’t be a d***, everyone is trying to get somewhere, be patient, be kind, be courteous. Unless you are seriously ill, pregnant or senior, I see very little reason for anyone believing it is ok to jump the line.
• Travelling by boat is ALWAYS better.
Interested in a day trip to Čiovo or Trogir? See the Bura Line timetable and information here.