Zadar June 8-12, 2019

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June 15th 2019
Published: June 18th 2019
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After a 4.5hr bus trip to Zadar we arrived at our accomodation at about 6pm. We had chosen a hostel for our first night and for the next 4 nights we were moving to a room that we booked on Airbnb that had yet received no reviews and had been newly listed, so we had no idea what to expect and had taken a bit of a gamble.
This was the case for most of the travels. We had no idea what to expect and most of it was a surprise: good or bad.

Anyway the hostel was a good surprise. We had a lovely room in a boutique type place and it felt friendly and relaxed from the moment we checked in. Another guy from our bus was also checking in ahead of us and was easy to chat to.

We met loads of interesting people at the hostel and chatted to just about everyone who was staying there. Most were couples and independent travellers.
There was a South American guy who was working for Google in Krakow He had already been there for 4 years and was only here for his weekend off. We have met many expats, working in Europe who take advantage of weekends and cheap flights to explore. I was envious as I would have loved that oportunity when I was younger. It wasnt so easy to explore Europe from Australia. There was also a Brazilian girl, working in Ireland. She had just returned from a day at Plitvice lakes where she had been disappointed that her camera had failed to work.

The Saturday, when we first arrived and walked from the bus station the streets were deserted and lifeless. I got concerned about having booked 5 days to stay. Our travels so far had been full on and all in cities full of crowds and attractions and I thought that I certainly couldn't bear to slow down this much!.
We then wandered through the gates of the old town and everything changed. There was music, lights, restaurants and crowds of people. The old roman cobbled streets were highly polished from at least 5 centuries of foot traffic. We ate huge pizza slices and ice cream and took in all the atmosphere. The tourist numbers were comfortable as it was not yet peak season. A wonderful accapella group put on a free concert in the main square and at about 10pm we returned to the hostel and chatted to just about everyone who was staying there in the tiny common area. It was a good introduction to Zadar.

The next day we checked out as late as we could 11am before doing some grocery shopping at Kaufland and then checking into our new airbnb.

What a surprise that was! We weren't sure if it was good or bad! We had been having limited communication with a young girl who, as it turned out, didn't even live in the house. An elderly lady with practically no English called. Ljubbicia met us and we sat being offered coffee and cake and with the assistance of Google translate eventually managed to understand the situation and each other. The girl we had been communicating with was Ljubbicia's neighbour and helped her manage her accomodation listing and communicate with guests before they arrived. Communication had not been effective enough for us to have understood what we were actually booking though! We could not comfortably use her kitchen and there was no space in her fridge for our food.

It was a new living situation for us but once we got to know her it felt very welcoming and comfortable. Over the next 4 days she kept cooking for us and inviting us to join her. Her husband spent summers on a nearby island where he had a hobby farm. They had been married 50 years and he only came to Zadar for the winters. Her grandchildren kept her busy and they occasionally visited the husband but other than that the tourists from her Airbnb appeared to be her new hobby. Apparantly this type of accommodation was common in Croatia.

Zadar's beach was the first swim for both of us in the Adriatic Sea and it was just the therapy we had needed after weeks of city travels. Our favourite swimming became just off the stone pier in the old town where we could dive from the pier then lie on the warm concrete before sitting under a shady tree. Here we didn't need to hobble over the pebbles on the shore which was necessary on most Croatian beaches. The water was warm, sparkling blue and clear.

We wandered into the old town for dinner each evening and then would sit on the sea front, watch the sunset listening to Zadar's famous sea organ. The waves conducting a haunting concerto that was amplified by the wake of passing boats. Somehow we had missed this the first night as the sea had been too calm. Beside the sea organ was a solar circle on the ground "salute to the sun". It emitted a kaleidoscope of swirling colours after dark.
Wandering the polished stone streets in the evenings we would listen and watch concerts, choirs and performances that would pop up as we turned corners.

On our final day in Zadar we took a ferry for a day trip to Ugljan (Olive) Island.
The 10.30 am ferry we planned to catch did not exist today so Tomas squeezed in a pre ferry swim and at 11.30 we were on the ferry which took 20 mins to arrive.
The day was hot, sunny with a stiff breeze. We found a wonderful swimming beach called Jaz in the town of Prekko. Tourists were fairly sparse in the morning but increased later in the day.
We settled in a good spot in the shade by the beautiful beach and swam at Jaz and also out to a little
island 80m out which had nothing but a monastery and some gardens.
We walked the little laned streets as it cooled down and picked fallen apricots from the ground. It was a world away from Zadar; peaceful and relaxed.

As the day cooled we walked a suggested walking path to an old Fortress at the highest point of the island, St. Michael Fort. It was 4 km each way. I was fairly nervous cluttering over the last 100m rock path. I wouldn't have wanted either of us to have taken a wrong step in such an isolated location. There were very few people about.
The views were magnificent over to the Kornati Islands National Park and the surrounding islands, including Zadar. The wind was so strong that the exposure and elevation had me clutching the ground to keep balance at some spots.

The walk back to Prekko had us quickstepping and arriving just as the 8.15pm ferry was due to depart back to Zadar. Salty and sun soaked we enjoyed the breeze, seated on the open outer deck.

Our last night in Zadar we watched some traditional dancing by the old roman ruins and a couple singing
modern covers but, to be honest, it is the Croatian smokers that always end up flushing us from a pleasant outdoor seat and has us heading home a little earlier than we would have otherwise chosen. Unfortunately almost everyone smokes in Croatia, young and old!
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