For the past 15 years of my life, I have been extremely fortunate in that both my work life and my personal life has seen me travel to a great variety of destinations that I had never been to before and some that I had never even heard of before planning the trip! I have been able to explore many wonderful cities and cultures and build up a catalogue of personal memories and experiences that has stimulated a desire for more travel – something which I fervently hope to be able to continue to incorporate into my future endeavors.
The amount of research that I do on the target destination prior to arrival depends on 3 things:-
1) The purpose of the trip – while this might seem obvious in that most people think “well, you can’t do anything on a business trip”, that’s actually the wrong attitude – what it normally restricts is the time of day or amount of time at night you can explore your destination – outside of the working day in the office, your time is generally yours in the evening unless you have a job that involves taking clients out to dinner or attending evening events. If I am at a multi-day conference or event, I do not accept hospitality for every single night – I always plan at least one or two nights on my own. Cities are often more beautiful at night when strategically placed lighting accentuates their architectural features and the shadows conceal some of the less desirable aspects that harsh daylight might expose.
2) The amount of time that I will be spending there – there is obviously no point in finding a whole lot of interesting things to see and do if you’re only going to see the airport, the office and the hotel! But sometimes it is surprising how much you can actually get to see in a short space of time if you know what you are looking for in the first place.
3) If I am traveling alone, with work colleagues or with family – if I’m traveling alone or with family, decent places to eat are often one of the first items researched as those of you who know us will know that we love our food ………
But I do have a confession to make – my wife is a much better researcher that me! What this means is that if we are traveling together somewhere, be it for work or for pleasure, I know that she will find out the secrets that our destination has to reveal, well in advance of our departure. This often builds our expectation as we anticipate the delights of experiencing new things for ourselves.
And so it was with the current leg of this trip that I am on. We have been in Split, Croatia, for the last week on a short family break – but I had zero expectations of Split, or Croatia for that matter, prior to our departure since I had not taken the time to do any research. Split just happened to be hosting the Ultra Music Festival and was on the original “big loop” planed for the motorcycle ride that Peter and I set out on – so I hatched a plan to get my girls out for the week so that we could get some sun and join a 3 day party!! But I never paid any attention to Split other than that – it was just a dot on the map where we could relax and tan for a few days before the main event.
So it is with some dismay that I discovered that we have stumbled upon the most interesting and arguably one of the prettiest towns that I have ever had the pleasure to visit! How this has never made our list of short break destinations I will never know! Split old town is essentially a living ruin of an old castle and it’s surrounding and supporting structures. But it’s thriving and alive, with every corner and every alley offering up interesting sights, sounds and smells. Here the ruins are incorporated into the very fabric of everyday life – homes and businesses built around centuries old pillars and walls.
Stairways draped with colorful flowers, doorways into courtyards revealing leafy seclusion. The old city walls bursting open with shops with their wares spilling out onto the streets into the throng of people. Countless restaurants and coffee bars enticing you in to sit and stay for while to indulge in that most European of pastimes – people watching 🙂
Every so often, life exceeds expectations and Split has done so with aplomb – if you get a chance, visit before everyone else does!!