Posted by: viewfromtheriva | June 2, 2009

Rainy days, Regent umbrellas, ahhh…sulfur

The past few days have been amazingly soggy considering the 30C plus weather we have been enjoying here in Split recently.  But the cruise ships who dock here with increasing frequency seem to take it all in stride.  The Regent, a floating palace, docked here the other day during the absolute height of the deluge and being a classy ship, everyone got umbrellas.  Now this isn’t some 200 passenger river boat, it’s a big and brassy number with 1000 or more passengers so seeing all these folks with “Regency” umbrellas swimming around Split was quite a site.  I was busy with Filip, our ace catcher and left fielder on the Split baseball team, distributing the Diocletian Palace Map and chatting up the folks who were speaking English. I’m constantly amazed at how many Americans come here and are stunned. “Better than Dubrovnik”, “I had no idea this was such a great place” followed by of course, “Where is the Palace?”–this from someone standing in the exact middle of the Peristyle.  I always answer “look to your left, now to your right….” and as they start to laugh I explain how I thought it was a museum-like covered place when I first visited Split years ago.

Instead of being miserable in all the rain, the Regency folks seemed to be digging their adventure.  Chomping wet pizza, eating ice cream, hanging on to their guides…nice to see that being here means something more than just a look see.

The rain also does something to the way it smells here.  Along the Riva there’s always a faint odor of what is that, fish market overstock? old tires?

Nope, after talking to some cognoscenti, it’s the same stuff that made the oracles at Delphi in Greece go nuts:  sulfur.  Honest.  Apparently Split is blessed (some say cursed) with underground sulfur vents that permeate the water as well as the ground.  During Roman times sulfur baths were said to have curative powers….and even today there are some local hospitals my source claims, that use sulfur baths to help “certain ailments”.  Considering that sulfur is used to make fertilzer and turn brains to mush when it becomes sulfuric acid, it’s more than odd than it still used as a medical treatment (usually for certain skin disorders).  At least the mystery of where that smell comes from is solved.

The other big news these rainy days have brought is the first announcement of the 55th annual Split Summer Festival which begins in July.  Among the events sure to be fabulous is the new Yury Vamos treatment of Orff’s Carmina Burana.

The quite amazing Split Ballet here did a stunning version of his Romeo and Juliet this season that left us and others in the audience with our mouths open and our eyes wet.  Incredible choreography and brilliant solo and ensemble work.  Sadly the closing event of the season, Bajadera, was woefully staged and dragged on for more than 2 hours;  the company deserved better direction and will surely be fired up for the Vamos.  Watch for our review next month….when it hopefully stops raining!


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