Falling in love with the Dalmatian Coast


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Europe » Croatia » Dalmatia » Zadar
October 27th 2016
Published: May 14th 2017
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Our flight to Zadar was leaving late in the afternoon but we felt like we’d seen enough of London on that trip already so instead of doing more sightseeing we just took our time getting ready and left our claustrophobic room and disappointing hotel after breakfast and headed straight to the airport. As we jumped on one of the metros, a group of musicians got in soon after as well... I thought ‘Here we go, the same crappy tune again’... Once again I was wrong as they turned out to be really good actually! Playing funky music, dancing around and encouraging people to join in... and their enthusiasm has started spreading throughout the carriage almost immediately! Smiley faces all around, some people even started clapping... I started wondering if maybe we were involuntarily taking part in some viral movie? The smiles started disappearing off people's faces almost as quickly as they appeared on them when one of the musicians started walking around collecting money for the performance. It was back to ‘normal’ once again – everyone burying their faces in their phones again... We changed metro a couple times after that, took an express train and just before 1 o'clock we
Old man and the sea - in ZadarOld man and the sea - in ZadarOld man and the sea - in Zadar

I'm sure Hemingway would be able to find inspiration here as well!
were at the airport. Flight leaving at 6.35pm... oops! Slightly early... We couldn’t even check-in for the next 2 hours... ah well... a bite to eat, couple of nappie changes and we were heading for the departure gates already. Getting through all the checks went definitely much faster than when we came into UK... Hey! we even managed to squeeze into the fast track lane 😊 Next a few drinks and some snacks in the lounge (once in a while treat!) and we were ready for our flight! At least London was waving us goodbye with a smile... 😊

The flight to Zadar was right on time and it turned out we even had three seats for ourselves. We were quite grateful for that as Millie decided she wasn't too tired just yet and was up the whole flight – playing with the seatbelts, waving to the girls sitting behind us, high fiving them and pulling a guy in front of me by his hair! Oops! Thankfully that happened only once... We landed in Zadar slightly before scheduled time, quickly picked up our bags and soon after were in a taxi driving to our apartment. I was slightly alarmed when just for shutting the door of the cab we were already being charged 50kuna but even more so how quickly the meter was going when we started driving... In the end we were charged 200kuna for a short drive which I thought was probably special tourist rate but it looked like it was the actual price as we did ask our hosts about that... Quite pricey but at least we were in the apartment. And what a beautiful apartment it was! Very spacious, nice and clean, looked brand new actually and less than half the price of our London shithole... We were loving it here already!

We usually wake up whenever our little princess decides she's had enough sleep and that day she was catching extra z's after a late night the day before, so quite a late start for us as well – 9am! What a treat! Before we got ready it was way past 10am already! It was time to start exploring! As we walked out the door, a big smile appeared on our faces – not a cloud in sight, just beautiful blue skies! Also it turned out we were more or less 100metres away from the sea! Talking about a fantastic location! I'd been to this region just over 25 years ago and I have to say that seeing the Adriatic again made as much of an impression on me as it did back then! Some islands in sights, few boats around, lovely sea breeze, clean water and a very calm, peaceful surface... Incredible!

We were also only a short walk away from the Old Town, so headed there straight away. First we stopped at a bakery and had some breakfast, only 6 kuna (0.75EUR!) for a big coffee? How about that? I surely would be back for more in the next few days... After that we wandered around the cobble stoned streets, admiring the architecture and in general enjoying the atmosphere of this lovely town. We haven’t had a chance to read too much about Zadar just yet so were quite surprised to see some funky sea-wave instrument by the shore... We actually heard its sounds from further away but couldn't figure out what was making them... Actual Sea Organs! What a fantastic idea! Little free concert made by nature...

As we were walking around the Old Town walls we came across a stand offering boat excursions. Straight away an older guy came to us and starting telling us all about it... Once he got our attention he just asked his wife to explain all the details. He had better things to do I guess? Anyway... To be honest it was really hard to believe she was actually his wife! She certainly looked after herself, while he didn’t seem to bother at all – hardly any teeth left! It obviously made him look much older, or maybe he was very old? Ah well... Love can be truly blind... 😉 We ended up booking an excursion for Sunday, apparently last one of the season... just on time then! For the rest of the day we just walked around the Old Town, had some beers and a bite to eat – it looked like pizza was very popular around here... I was yet to find some local food somewhere, but I wasn’t too worried. After all it was only the beginning of our stay on the Dalmatian coast, so I was sure eventually we would try some local specialities somewhere... On the way back to the apartment we also caught a pretty decent sunset... It was a great first day by the Adriatic and I couldn’t be happier we decided to come here... Plenty more exploring to do!

We woke up to see blue skies once again and even though we missed out on a few hours of sun (yep! late start again!), the day was looking promising already. We walked by the sea to the Old Town again as that's what you do in Zadar. 😊 Since I couldn't really decide what I wanted to eat for breakfast, rather than sitting down in a restaurant, we grabbed a calzone each (yep! pizza for breakfast, why not?) and a cup of coffee for me and went to sit down by the Sea Organs instead. Actually much better idea, not only cheaper but we could also enjoy the beautiful sunny weather again.

Later on we just walked around the Old Town. We got to a small square with some church and noticed a few women dressed up in traditional clothes. They were definitely preparing for something... We decided to stick around and see what they were up to. A few minutes later they all gathered in a circle, joined their hands and
The Church of St. Donatus in Zadar The Church of St. Donatus in Zadar The Church of St. Donatus in Zadar

It was built on top of the old Roman forum
slowly started hopping around... and then the singing started... some traditional Croatian song, we could only assume... the next song was a bit faster so they picked up the pace swirling around and singing even louder. The moment the second song stopped so did the dancing and all of them went their ways as if nothing happened... A few grannies wanted to keep on going as they walked off singing one of the songs... I loved this little spectacle and wondered if that was something they did every week or whether it was some special occasion? Whatever the reason was I was happy to have witnessed it anyway.

After circling around the Old Town we decided to go for a longer stroll along the coast. It really is a beautiful coastline, numerous islands visible from the shore, very calm water and that fantastic and intoxicating smell of the sea... add to it blue skies and a very decent temperature and there you have it – just perfect! After the walk we headed back to the Old Town again to treat ourselves to a couple of drinks and some food. Altogether a very pleasant day!

When you walk around Zadar you seem to forget that only 25 years ago this place, just like many other places along the Croatian coast, was heavily damaged by the artillery fire. Now when you look around, there’s hardly any evidence of the war... Here and there you can come across a few information boards depicting the scale of the damage though – quite a visual reminder of how destructive this war actually was and hopefully a warning for future generations. Conflicts like this should simply be avoided...

The following day there was no sleeping in. We had to make it for the boat after all. We were still slightly confused whether Croatia had daylight savings or not, but my alarm clock suggested the time was changing that night, so we actually did get an extra hour of sleep... Thank God for that, as Millie decided she had enough sleep around 10 and only passed out again just after 1... I have to say that we didn't work out the bedtime techniques too well just yet... So much to learn still!

Our boat was supposed to leave at 8.30 but we were told to arrive at 8.00 to get some good seats. We were at the quay just after 8 and most of the seats in the cabin were taken already! What time did these people come here? Maybe some of them didn't realise the time was changing that night and came one hour too early? Some of them certainly looked like they've been sitting there for a while. 😉 There weren't too many people on board actually, so I thought it was going to be a pretty quiet trip... Not exactly as twice as many people jumped on board near the Sea Organs... You would wonder why they wouldn't just make one pick-up stop as it was literally 200 metres between the stops in the straight line through the Old Town? Anyway, all on board, we were ready to set off!

The weather was beautiful, no clouds in the sky and I was... freezing! I think my body temperature works only good between 24-28C, anything outside of that and I'm either freezing or overheating... You would think that I should know by now and carry extra jumper with me or something... It looked like the crew had an even better solution for that as they welcomed everyone on board with an aperitif or so they called it... as basically they were quite generous shots of some 'fire water'. How else would you call a spirit that simply burns your throat?! I thought that might warm me up but after having a little sniff of that booze I knew there was no way I was going to gulp that down... Tasting a few drops from Grant and seeing his slightly twisted face after drinking it only confirmed it – some seriously evil stuff, no thanks!

Next it was breakfast time! Finally as my belly was asking for some food at this stage... All we got was a ham & cheese sandwich each, even though it was nice and fresh, I could've done with another one, but everyone was entitled to one only... Cheepos! There was plenty of free wine though... Millie was up for a nap, so we just put her in a carrier and went outside to look around a bit. Even though it was early morning still, almost everyone was having some free wine already! It was time we joined in I guess, if only to warm up of course. 😉 I am no wine connoisseur for sure, but the wine was pretty vile to say the least... nobody else seemed to be bothered by the taste at all and the jugs were being refilled one after another... Ok so maybe it wasn't the perfect trip I imagined, but I could hardly expect a Michelin star chef and vintage wine on board for that price... So standing on the deck with a plastic glass of something resembling a wine, I actually thought 'this is going to be a good trip as look how beautiful and peaceful this place is!' Calm water, fantastic weather, beautiful views and most importantly the best company... I couldn't ask for more! And it was actually nice to do nothing for a while, no sightseeing planned, just enjoying the tranquil environment around...

After almost three hours of sailing we reached the shore of the island of Dugi Otok which lies in the middle of the Nature Park Telašćica. This was going to be our stop for the next 2,5 hours. Not too bad at all. A short walk and we were standing in front of a beautiful salt lake Mir. We noticed a board advising that the walk around the lake was only 2,2km, well... We could do it in no time at all and see different parts of the lake then. It felt as if it was a few degrees warmer here and even the water looked quite inviting... A few people from our boat actually did jump into it... slightly too cold for me, besides we didn't even have a towel with us... Walking around the lake was more our thing anyway... On the other side of the lake we found a very cool spot with stacked up stones... many, many stones! It looked incredible, especially against that beautiful and almost turquoise water in the background.

After all this sailing and walking around we got a bit hungry so I was happy to see it was almost lunch time. As we sat down at one of the tables, soon after the crew started coming out with food. They made sure each table had a jug of white and red wine of course as well! I was slightly puzzled when they came out with a plate of salted fresh cabbage and some bread to go along with it... Was that the whole lunch as I sure was going to be hungry still after this? More food was obviously coming, it was just slightly odd they served the salad before the actual main course rather than serving it along with it... Soon after the plates with mains started coming out as well. Everyone got a big piece of fish, some potatoes and a piece of pork neck... Croatian surf'n'turf I would imagine? The food maybe didn’t look great but was actually quite tasty. I was freaking out a bit by the amount of stray cats around... There had to be well over 10 of them! And they sure weren’t shy to come up close and beg for food. A bit too close for me... Not really a cat person. After everyone was done with their food, the cats got the leftovers. Now everyone was happy...

After lunch we went back to the boat and set off back to Zadar. Somehow everyone looked slightly tired... Wonder why... It wasn't exactly the most tiring day so maybe the booze had something to do with it? It became pretty quiet in the main cabin and you could see hardly anyone taking wine top-ups... that is until we were more or less half an hour away from the town. Now it was all about getting hammered before coming off the boat. The sun was setting just as we were arriving back at Zadar. We really enjoyed the trip and I was happy we managed to book it just before the end of the season.

After we got off the boat we made our way to the Sea Organs to see the Greeting to the Sun – an interesting spectacle of colours! The water was definitely a bit rougher that day so the Sea Organs sounded even more magical than before. We had a pizza once again hoping there will be more choice of food in our next destination. We shared one and ordered a side of chips and a salad. When the waiter brought our food, he put a bowl of chips right in front of Millie on a high chair... I thought he was joking but it looked like he really thought we ordered the whole bowl for her... really? It was quite funny actually... she would get a few chippies from us for sure, but it was the salad that we had in mind for her rather than anything else. But then maybe it is a usual choice for kiddies around here?

As we were walking through the Old Town for the last time, once again I was mesmerized by the shiny cobbled stones and the illuminated streets... And that was it for Zadar... It has been fantastic and we could’ve stayed here even longer but at the same time were eager to get to know some other Croatian towns... It was time to move on to our next destination. Next stop: Split!


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14th May 2017

Croatia
We've heard so many wonderful things about Croatia and your blog highlights things we would love to see. You captured the history, architecture...and cute stories of Millie. Happy travels.
18th May 2017

Croatia
It really is a beautiful country. A visit here highly recommended! Happy travels
15th May 2017

Pizza - the meal that ate Zadar, and the world.
Yes you are certainly right with the lack of (affordable) food options in Zadar, but we did get some good tasting and HUGE pizza while there. Reading your blog reminded me of how much we loved Zadar, the town does have a great vibe and we both felt it trod that nice thin line between quaint and over touristy, but that perspective can sometimes vary on when and where you stay. Will need to do the booze cruise on our eventual return as it sort of reminds me of my time of working with Croatian formworkers on Sydney building sites in the 80's.
18th May 2017

Pizza - the meal that ate Zadar, and the world.
Zadar was a perfect place to start our Croatian adventure and as we moved along the coast we were definitely happy we chose to come there in the low season - way more affordable and less crowded. Happy to have brought back some memories for you from Sydney.
16th May 2017
Greeting to the Sun by night... By day - a fun place for kids to play on!

Good one
Nice photo. /Ake
18th May 2017
Greeting to the Sun by night... By day - a fun place for kids to play on!

Good one
Thanks. I was simply there at the right moment
16th May 2017

Zadar is definitely on our radar ;)
I love the sound of that Croatian surf n turf! I would never have thought that fish and pork would work together, so I'm intrigued :) Looking forward to Spilt x
18th May 2017

Zadar is definitely on our radar ;)
The Croat 'surf n turf' did look a bit odd when they put the plates in front of us, but it wasn't too bad at all! Or maybe I was just really hungry? ;) Best to check it yourself :)

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