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September 5th 2008
Published: June 26th 2017
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Geo: 44.122, 15.2381

We are now in Zadar having spent a fabulous two days seeing various aspects of Croatia.
We spent yesterday morning further exploring Zagreb, returning to some of the monuments of the Lower Town we had only seen from the bus. These included the National Theatre building in Tito square and the parks that form a green U around the city. We also went back to the markets which were now open and we browsed through the various stalls selling flowers, fruit and fish. I bought a beautiful hand embroidered table cloth for my back table which was not expensive. There were some lovely more modern sculptures in the town too, including one of an old lady I particularly liked. We had lunch at a cafe near the main square which was great.
We left Zagreb about 3pm and drove south west heading for the Plitvice National Park where we were to stay for the night. This is an amazing area covered by thick forests and huge lakes which is on the Unesco list of World heritage sites. On the way we stopped at a small village, Turanjc, which still had evidence of the ferocity of the war between the Croats and Serbs in 1991. We saw many buildings there still with bullet holes in the walls and a site which is to become a war museum. At Plitvice we stayed at the Hotel Jezera and had a lovely dinner there of trout.
This morning we left the hotel at 8am and headed into the park. We first were dropped off in an area where we met our local guide then were taken in a small "train" up the hillside to Stage 3 of the park. Here we started our first 60 minute walk. It was a gorgeous sunny morning and we walked alongside the beautiful lakes and streams encountering numerous waterfalls along the way. This is one of the most scenic places I have been to. Because we left early there were very few other people about and the quiet and tranquility of the place was overwhelming.
After about 55 minutes we stopped by the largest lake and then boarded a small boat which took us across to the other side. We then had a short rest at a picnic area before setting off again along the lower lakes. The waterfalls, though not huge or spectacular by themselves, built up to a cumulative effect that completed a vivid and beautiful picture. The water was crystal clear and we could see the fish, mostly carp, easily in the aqua blue edges of the lakes. The calcification of the fallen trees and plants by the waters' edge was amazing and we were told that Traventine marble was formed here due to this process.
The lower lakes were equally beautiful, with fast running streams and tumbling falls. We walked mainly on boardwalks above the forest floor which protected the natural beauty of the place. Our final climb up to the car park afforded stunning views of the waterfalls and lakes. A thoroughly enjoyable morning and one I would not have missed.
From there we drove to Zadar, which is in Dalmatia on the Adriatic coast. Though I had not really heard of this city, I have fallen in love with the place. We were taken into the old town for a guided tour. There have been settlements here since before Roman times and the Romans had a huge centre here. There are still the remains of the Roman Forum in the centre of the town and archaeoligical digs are in progress. There are also medieval churches along with buildings dating from Venetian times from between the 12th - 16th centuries. A rich history indeed. There are many churches and Zadar boasts not one, but 4 patron saints, the most important being St Chrysogonous who is depicted on the flag. However, St Anastasia, St Donatus and St Simon all get a part of the place. We walked along the Adriatic sea front. There is no beach in the town but people were swimming straight from the concrete steps leading down into the water. They are also proud of their Wave Organ, a series of pipes under the foreshore which play music as the waves roll in and out.We saw the cloister of a Franciscan monastery dating from the 16th century.
After the official tour we stayed on to explore on our own and walked along the harbour and the walls of the old town. There is a magnificent Venetian Gate as well as a square of the Five Wells which kept the city going when under seige. Our guide, Sonia , had told us that the wells had been in use during the most recent war as Zadar had been without electricity and water for five years in that conflict.
The history and atmosphere of this place has endeared it to Fletcher and me and we wandered back to our hotel for dinner, happy to have visited here.

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