Our trip’s stated objective was to participate in a “strenuous” hike in Paklenica National Park
. By the end of last night, there were only three people who wanted to risk the first half hour of rocky assent, because of all the rain. By this morning, when there was again light rain, Manka cancelled the hike because it is very slippery in the rain.
Breakfast was delightful because the hotel restaurant cooked our eggs to order; the ability of Adriatic restaurants to produce excellent sunny-side-up eggs is astonishing. Otherwise, the selections were the usual cold cuts, cereals and lovely breads.
Our revised day was a return to Zadar, this time to visit the Ancient Glass Museum
. (Rain fell during the drive and upon our arrival.)
Zadar was an important Roman conquest and a colony until the third century. Archaeologists have found large quantities of glassware from the earliest times. Our guide, Joseph, explained that glass was first developed in Syria, probably from camp fires melting the quartz sand. Glass receptacles were first made in sand holes and later by pressing molten glass into shapes such as bowls or plates. Over time, glass blowing was developed by adding soda and lime to the raw
Ancient Glass Museum
sand, which meant that the mixture would melt at a lower temperature. This increased the productivity of glass workers, since many workers could blow glass at the same time around one kiln
In the museum display cases were examples of every stage in the development and of the uses of glass, from vessels to cosmetics to dishes to beads. Trade across western Europe and from the Middle East resulted in extensive deposits of jars that once contained oils and other liquids. From a site near Zadar came dignified glass funerary jars, in which cremated remains were placed, protected by a stone protective vessel.
Our tour included two glass-blowing exhibitions. For the first, a woman used a Bunsen burner (or similar) to heat a tube of glass. With tiny puffs of air, she blew a small round bowl. She stretched the glass to make a neck, cut it off and smoothed the top and bottom. In moment she had created a small vase. See my video.
For the second demonstration, a man was manipulating a “catch” of glass, heating and turning it in the furnace. He blew it confidently and kept heating it to shape the bowl and the neck.
With quick movements he attached another piece of glass for a handle on the pitcher. As he pulled the handle to attach the lower end, the glass cooled too much and it wouldn’t work. He snipped the handle off and made another one. We all admired his skill. He smiled his thanks and tossed the new vessel into the scraps – not good enough.
Our unorganized time allowed us the opportunity to go inside the main Cathedral, dedicated to St Anastasia, whose ashes were given to the church by a Byzantine Emperor. As is the fate of many very old churches, it suffered from destruction and redesign and modifications through several centuries. The interior was an odd mix of very plain walls, austere wood structures, faux white marble and two Baroque side altars – at the whim of donors, presumably.
When we emerged, the rain had stopped, and thin sun cheered us. We walked through a bustling street in the old city centre looking for a lunch place. Suddenly, Manka saw a stationery store and took me in to buy a new little book for my photo notes. The store also had highlighters; I bought a yellow one
Greeting to the Sun
Art combined with solar energy conversion to light the waterfront
for Tomas to mark our journey on the map I had purchased at a gas station.
As a group, we chose the Stipe Restaurant
, which had a sign on the street and its entrance down a narrow lane. The waiter enticed us all into trying an appetizer platter of local cheese and Adriatic air-cured ham (meaty and tender). My main meal was delicious mussels and, as always, fresh bread. We postponed dessert just long enough to walk down the streets for ice cream; I diverted to the bakery next door and bought a piece of apple cake that was so good I may try to make it at home.
Manka invited us to have free time and suggested another museum, but we were satisfied with the Ancient Glass Museum. Some people decided to wander randomly, but several of us wanted to revisit Greeting to the Sun
and the sea organ, as they are so unusual. The rain was lighter than when we first saw it – happily the rain stopped. and the sun shone with some warmth. Moored right at the organ, a cruise ship dominated the square, and its passengers walking around made taking clear photos tricky. Nevertheless, the organ performed
marvelously as the sea and the breeze created eerie sounds through the pipes. It was hard not to succumb to our human temptation to imagine that the sounds were intentional music.
Although the sky was sunny as we cheerfully waited for the buses, rain poured half way through the forty minute drive. A few of us decided to take advantage of the clearer conditions at the hotel in Starigrad and walk along the sea shore behind the hotel. Even as we were negotiating the rock stairs down, rain gushed out of the sky. Not completely intimidated, we strolled and took photos for a few minutes. The wide bay was the backyard to many of the hotels and homes that fronted on the road.
Inside, we hung our wet clothes on heated drying rack in bathroom and prepared for the mid-trip drinks party. Manka had planned this as a surprise on a prominence with spectacular views of the sun-set. Instead we sat in the pergola on the hotel’s terrace, companionably drinking local red wine and eating snacks.
Dinner was at the Vicko Hotel restaurant across the road: a generously served mixed-grill, favoured by these Adriatic countries.
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