AND so to Italy we take the route through Innsbruck which is very picturesque and we marvel at the beauty of the mountains. Riva del Garda on the northern end of Lake Garda is our first stop on our way to Ancona, it is a warm evening when we arrive and we stop to look at the Lake and soak up its beauty. The ferry passenger boat is just arriving and there is a beautiful light across the water. I have been brushing up on my Italian which is now an incomprehensible mixture of Spanish and Portuguese with Italian thrown in. We arrive in Devo next so I have rehearsed what I am going to say when I enter the hotel, little did I know that I would find out that the owner is German and she understands very little Italian, let alone my jumble of words! Oh how I wish that I had taken lessons in all these languages earlier in life.

We drive on to Ancona the next day where we catch an overnight ferry to Split in Croatia.
Split is full of history which Guy has documented. We walk through the market but there is nothing there of any interest to us until we see a towel with a map showing Split and the surrounding islands so we bought it. It has been interesting walking through markets in almost every town we visit not only here but of course in South America. The thing that strikes me is how unoriginal they are. Just now and again there will be something that stands out as being different (fruit and vegetables being the exception) but China has most of the world covered and of course many people are fooled into thinking that something might be a local product which of course it is not. With that thought in mind I always look for a label of some sort and find now that the labels have been cut out to disguise the very fact that things have come from another country. Many of the stalls are selling exactly the same items and it is just a question of which stall any one person chooses to stop at to make a purchase, and to see if there is any variation on the price.

Our final destination is Vis where we have friends who bought a house about seven years ago (which they have renovated from top to bottom) and which they visit two or three times a year. I last stayed with them in 2008 and I could see no visible difference to the island from then to now. It is charming and unspoilt and with the many friends that they have there we had a very jolly time. From their rooftop terrace it is possible to see the many sailing boats that arrive daily just for one night. Most of the people coming off those boats, I found, have little respect for the residents of the island. They arrive having been at sea for a few days ready to drink too much and make a huge amount of noise. Of course the islanders are very happy to see them and ignore their behaviour, they bring “money” to the economy and are the bread and butter in what is a fairly short season but it is certainly quiet once they leave!

We visited the museum in Vis and several churches plus the British War Memorial. Our friends drove us around the island and with their knowledge of the history filled us in with many statistics. We spent one day in Komiza, a small town which we were informed is where the nightlife is and there we had delicious ice cream….
Boats being such a major part of the island are a way of getting around and we took one out one day to visit several beautiful bays. Another day we were invited on a boat which gave us access to a beach side restaurant where the owner of the boat’s wife bravely swam in what we thought was a rather cold “sea”. We had a mixed bag of weather but came away feeling very refreshed and ready to move on to our next adventure……

Oh, if I were king, I would only….. What the words “I want…” mean to a king/emperor compared to us simple mortals. The Roman Emperor Diocletian…. said in 200+A.D., “I want a palace at …[this known but undeveloped place now called Split, Croatia] for my retirement.” And so it was, the palace of incredible proportions was completed in about 300 A.D. The multi-story building occupied an area of about 8 football fields and housed his reduced retirement staff of only 9,000. Only fragments (large fragments compared to the original size) exist today as over the centuries each successive wave of needs and architectural concepts were built in, on, and over the palace. Even the USSR-inspired period of communism could not suffocate it and today it is an open-air market for the throngs of tourists disgorging from dozens of ferries from throughout the eastern Mediterranean.