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take it or leave it

We left Vis with heavy hearts, and not simply because it was our favorite part of Croatia. Heading further north up the Dalmatian coast, we were moving unmistakably closer to the end of our family trip. The three of us would have another week of travel in Slovenia, but after Vis S’s parents and sister only had three more days in Croatia before they had to return stateside.

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We spent our last two nights in the tiny town of Trogir, which is located on an island that is so close to the mainland that the bridges that connect it to the rest of the continent make it feel as if it is simply part of the coastline. Towards the end of the millennium, Trogir received UNESCO World Heritage status, and the town wears the designation proudly. There are even light-up UNESCO signs on Trogir’s various city gates.

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Trogir’s claim to fame is the impossibly large number of churches and palaces that have been crammed somehow into the town’s warren of narrow, twisted, cobblestone streets. Walking on the paving stones, which have been rubbed smooth by the passage of time and the soles of countless tourist feet, one passes well-preserved Romanesque churches that rub elbows with Renaissance and Baroque buildings constructed during the Venetian Period.

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The cathedral dates back to the 13th century, as does the duke’s palace, and there are even remnants of a church that was erected in the 9th century. We quickly lost count, but it seemed as if we passed close to a dozen churches, all within a stone’s throw of one another. The only problem with such a high concentration of religious buildings is that they seem to compete with one another for worshippers. For several hours in the late afternoon, the town resounded with the ringing of church bells almost without pause.

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We spent a couple of hours the afternoon of arrival and another hour or so the following morning exploring Trogir before taking an hour-long ferry to Split to see Dalmatia’s largest and most important city. Our travel agent urged us to stay in Trogir in lieu of Split because it is quaint and quiet. In retrospect, with the limited amount of time we had at our disposal, this was a bit silly since the whole point of visiting this part of the coast was to see Split. And while the few hours we wandered around Trogir were almost enough to see the town, we could have easily devoted several days to Split.

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On the one hand, it would have made more sense to stay in Split and come to Trogir on a day trip, if we had had the time, rather than the other way around. On the other hand, had we booked our lodging in Split, it is quite likely that we would have skipped Trogir altogether. It is fair to say that our household is divided on whether this would have been a real loss.

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