Day: 109

Cities / Towns Visited: 56

Countries Visited: 16

Steps Taken Today: 15,266

Steps Taken Around the World: 1,971,178

Once more we woke to a searingly hot day. To be honest I was thoroughly beginning to miss winter. It felt like an Australian Christmas; uncomfortably hot, but you’re excited because you know good things are coming. What is that good thing you ask? We were off to see another Game of Thrones film location; Klis Fortress. This stunning mountaintop medieval fortress was used as exterior for Meereen, and we were excited have the opportunity to see it in person, thus off we trotted to the nearby local bus stop to take the rather questionable vehicle out to Klis.

Alighting the bus at the other end, there a was no need to worry about how we would find our way there, as it’s impossible to miss with its lofty position. It’s a breathtaking image, this huge impregnable stone fortification; and it only became more incredible as we trekked up the hill. Even the sun scorching us, and the sweat streaming down our backs couldn’t steal our excitement, and as we bought our tickets and walked in, it was as if we were right there on the set. It’s strange to arrive at somewhere you’ve never been, yet feel as though you know it.

The next few hours were spent exploring every available inch of the sight, up each set of stairs, down each corridor, out every window, and through every door. The higher we rose, the more stunning the panorama became; soaring rocky mountains sinking into the lush green valley and meeting the clear blue sea. To say picturesque would be an understatement.

A small museum in one of the old buildings gave us a brief background on the construction of the fortress; the first building here is thought to date back to the 3rd century BC, but has been changed and expanded through the millennia. The exhibit also displayed facts about the Uskoks, a band of mercenary type Croatian soldiers who helped hold off the Turks and stop them conquering the fortress, along with many other areas of Croatia. They were known to be some of the most formidable in all of Europe, much like the Unsullied in Game of Thrones (without the genital mutilation obviously). In fact, they were so well known and so effective that the Roman empire hired them to fight on their behalf in a few instances. There is also a small collection of medieval weapons, including a 16th century sword which was discovered at the fortress.

Eventually the lack of shade got to us, and having explored all we could, we headed back down to the bus. Unfortunately we had managed to miss it by five minutes and were forced to wait in the shrinking shade of the bus stop for over an hour for the next one. Finally boarding, we were soon on our way to our other destination for the day; Solin. Now, before it was Solin, this area was home to Salona; an old Roman city from the first few centuries AD, and that is what we had come to bask in. Determined not to be deterred by the sweltering heat and constant battering of the sun, we jumped off the bus and began the trek to the ruins. Reaching the gate, we bought out tickets and headed in. Now the remains are quite extensive, and span over quite an area. With a rough path, but little signage, it was more of a scavenger hunt for ancient foundations. The first, and hard to miss part, is the remains of an old church, complete with quite the collection of (now empty) sarcophagi, and broken pillars.

Continuing through the rest of the historical area it seemed almost poetic that the farms which back onto the site seem to be growing olives. As we wandered along we came across areas filled with foundations of churches and other buildings, including an old forum, and a crumbling amphitheatre, which was probably the most impressive part. This mini colluseum was the only building which had recognisable elements, including some still standing arches, the squares which would have sectioned off the seating, and the obvious entrance through which the brave gladiators would have walked through, not knowing if they would walk back out. There was something almost amusing about the fact that there was a house built so close to the amphitheatre that it’s almost within its walls. An obvious addition in a time when UNESCO wasn’t protecting the fragility of these ancient ruins.

By this time we had thoroughly reached our threshold of sunlight for the day, and thus exhausted, and somewhat irked, we trudged back to the bus and made our way home. After a quick nap, and a homecooked meal, we chilled for remainder of the night, knowing we had another long bus ride the next day. As I reviewed our day, I smiled at the thought of Klis Fortress. There is something so satisfying about knowing that there are places on this planet that are so perfect that they can be used to portray fiction, with very few changes, and this country seems to be home to multiple examples of this. The knowledge that we’re only a little bit of movie magic away from the world’s we daydream about is every bibliophile or movie buff’s fuel. The world’s we use to escape our monotonous reality; they exist. So I beseech you, go out and find them, and make your own story within them; make your life only a little movie magic away from being a fairy tale; make your life a book you’d want to read.

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On my dream trip to travel the world, taste its foods, see its wonders, and meet all the strange and beautiful people who reside here.

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