We started our Croatian adventure in Split and I was pleasantly surprised to find such a charming, lively, little shoe-shopping heaven of a place. We flew into Split from Rome to spend a couple of nights grounding ourselves (quite literally), before we set sail to explore the islands along the Dalmatian Coast. The coastal city, second largest in Croatia, is centred around the ancient Diocletian Palace. The palace is a series of narrow, winding passageways, filled with small shops that almost out of nowhere, open up to restaurant lined squares. The polished cobblestone streets eventually lead to a wide foreshore where the promenade is always buzzing with people, giving it a distinct resort vibe. It may have been the numerous (and very affordable) shoes shops or the labyrinth of streets begging to be explored, or the relaxed and friendly locals – or maybe just the combination of all three, but I completely adored this city.
A restaurant that is a must when visiting Split is Fife (Trumbićeva obala 11). It is the definition of cheap and cheerful. While you are guaranteed to see a menu in just about every language, don’t be put off, this place came highly recommended by locals. The communal dining meant we were never short for entertainment, and we loved this place so much we came back a second and a third time! Our first dinner was shared with two lovely ladies from Dortmund, Germany. Ben ordered a meat platter, which could have easily fed a family of six! And when I ordered what was termed “grilled squid” on the menu, and I was pretty disappointed when what came out was batter, deep fried and highly glutenous – but this one was definitely on me for not double checking with the waiter! Thank goodness for the huge portion sizes, communal dining and the kindness of strangers, our new German friends generously donated a very decent portion of their delicious meat and rice stuffed capsicums that they could not finish. An act of kindness we passed forward, offering my squid around the surrounding tables for everyone to try.
Despite this first blunder, overall being gluten free in Croatia is not too difficult as long as you double check what you are ordering. Surprisingly, purchasing gluten free products was easy in Split at drogerie markt (displayed as simply “dm“), a wonderful shop that I could/did easily spent hours in (much to Ben’s delight). It combines allergy foods, cosmetics and toiletries and there are two in the city centre with one being right next to the bus terminal. These shops are amazing for celiacs, they stock a great range of Schär products (a gluten free brand I cannot recommend highly enough) and even some lactose free milk. And the best thing, these German stores are located throughout Central Europe, (Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria and of course, Germany). One word of warning: make sure you stock up on gluten free products in Split if you are island hopping the Dalmatian Coast, while you will certainly find naturally gluten free food to eat on the islands, you will not find any speciality products.