For a birthday adventure I opted for hiking in the nearby town of Omis. The bus ride south follows a coast-hugging road that cuts through churchyards and the middle of tiny towns with streets barely wide enough for two-way traffic. We got off at a stop after crossing the Cetina River near one of Omis’s marinas. Our trail up the peak began along the river and went up through a pine-forested valley.

Rocky trail up, castle walls, view down to the sea, Oh! The Places You’ll Go! (mostly Omis).

Even at a pace that let us enjoy the surrounding spring flowers (and avoid bees), the trail was a 45 minute battle against a cascade of sliding rocks. The Starigrad Fortress balances on a mountain above Omis, barely visible from the town itself. We couldn’t see it until we were more than half way up. Built in the 1400s as a defense against raiders, it takes full advantage of the terrain. It wouldn’t look good for any potential invaders.

Starigrad Fortress above Omis, abandoned house along the trail, fences trapping the raptors.

No one else was on the trail, and even the castle’s caretaker seemed to have the day off. Fortunately, the door was left open and we had the place to ourselves. From the top of the tower, there were expansive views of the surrounding mountains and shorelines. A peregrine falcon played at flying on updrafts. The river hid in the valley; centuries ago pirates hid upstream and attacked passing merchant ships.

Conquering the castle, Croatian War for Independence Memorial, walking street.

The second half of the loop path took us back into Omis. It wasn’t as steep as the first portion, but still rocky enough to make us take our time. Buildings were cozied right up against the mountain and Jurassic Park-style catch fences were the only barrier between rockfalls and the uppermost homes.

The walking street where we ended our hike was mostly still shuttered for winter. The church on the main square was open. It was much less ornate than many churches in Spain and Portugal, but felt more relaxed inside. The poetic exterior had bunches of purple flowers growing out of the stones.

Churches in Omis, Fortress Mirabela above town.

The waterfront promenade was also undergoing renovations and the beaches were being refilled with sand and stone and new sidewalks laid. A second castle tower, Mirabela, sits right above the old town, but was closed for the day.

We bussed back and Kevin cooked up a delicious supper of ratatouille. We’ve been sampling Dalmatian wine and had some well-made Zweigelt to go with the meal.