Following on from the last blog, arriving somewhere at night is always the best as the next morning is always a surprise. On arriving in Zadar, we were greeted with Manchester drizzle – although still warm – BUT a word of warning! If you are like me, and have a penchant for flip flops or silly sandals, entirely unsuitable for doing anything other in, than sipping a prosecco at a table, heed my advice! Take some trainers or shoes with soles that grip, because the streets of Zadar, in the rain, are LETHAL! As beautiful as the white polished stones are, once wet, they are incredibly difficult to walk on, without slipping and sliding. Unlike in Corfu Town, I did manage to stay on my feet, thanks to the necessary purchase of more foot wear. Always an upside 😉
Rain (which was gone by the next day) and slippery stones aside, we were utterly enthralled by what greeted us the next morning. Zadar is very small and so very walkable (in the right footwear!). On Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, this old peninsular town is littered with Roman and Venetian ruins including several Venetian gates in the city walls. Around every corner is a feast for the senses – the Roman Forum, The Sea Organ, the Salutation to the Sun, St Donatus’ Church, Zadar Cathedral, the beautiful urban park of Perivoj Kraljice Jelene Madijevke. And on all sides, shimmering turquoise waters.
The Byzantine style St Donatus’ Church is beautiful. Located to the side of the Roman Forum it is the symbol of Zadar. Used today as a concert hall, it is incredibly impressive – well worth a visit, and very cool inside too, from the heat which was beginning to build up in mid-June.
Zadar also benefits from a beautiful urban park – Perivoj Kraljice Jelene Madijevke – which is another place to escape from the summer heat. Within the park, is a very chilled, Ibizan style bar – Lounge & Bar Ledana. Think hammocks, billowing sails, cushions and sofas. A perfect place to sit back and watch the world go by during the day. Although we didn’t visit it in the evening, we’re guessing it’s probably where the hip young things hang out 😉
Two things which will surprise any visitor to Zadar are The Sea Organ and The Salutation to the Sun, both designed by Croatian architect Nikola Bašić. The Sea Organ is a natural musical instrument, seventy meters long with thirty-five organ pipes built under the concrete. The musical pipes are located so that the sea water and wind movements produce musical sounds. Just astonishing. And, utterly mesmeric…
Salutation to the Sun is a light installation, on the very north western tip of the peninsula. According to Lonely Planet, it is
another wacky and wonderful creation by Nikola Bašić, this 22m-wide circle set into the pavement is filled with 300 multilayered glass plates that collect the sun’s energy during the day. Together with the wave energy that makes the Sea Organ ’s sound, it produces a trippy light show from sunset to sunrise that’s meant to simulate the solar system. It also collects enough energy to power the entire harbour-front lighting system.
It’s also a pretty cool place to pose, at sunset, for your wedding photographs 🙂
Eating and drinking in Zadar is currently very inexpensive – a glass of wine and a G&T in one bar was less than the equivalent of £2! We ate extremely well – fish, pasta, pizza – and also found a raw food bar/restaurant which, if we’d stayed longer, would certainly have tried.
We found an apartment on Air BnB, and couldn’t recommend it highly enough – the Arsenal Apartment refers more, we think to the location (very close to the Arsenal) rather than the owner’s football preferences 😉 Ivan, the owner, was fantastic – he arranged a transfer to and from the airport, met us when arrived quite late and was on hand throughout our stay for anything we needed. The apartment is exactly as on the Air BnB listing – tastefully furnished, extremely well equipped with everything you could need for a longer stay, fantastic wi-fi, impeccably clean, a huge shower and a very comfy bed! The location is excellent – 10 minutes walk from the Sea Organ and literally 30 seconds to the main street in the old town.
There is a beach close by, but we only managed a very fleeting visit as we were only there three days and quite honestly, there was far too much else to see. However, on a longer trip, the beach would be most welcome for a spot of chilling out. Boats trips can be done daily – it’s such a small place, you can’t miss where to get them from – around the peninsula and out further to the largely unhabited Kornati Islands.
As if it couldn’t get any better when we there, we also caught the first Euro 2016 Croatia game – it was a bit of a spectacle to be in a sea of red & white checks and witness a win over Turkey. A very noisy afternoon 🙂
So, would we recommend Zadar? Absolutely. Three days was perfect for a short break as it enabled us to take in and soak up everything. A longer break and we’d probably have travelled more, but our first experience of Croatia has motivated us to book our next trip to Pula and Rovinj. Got to escape this Manchester weather 😉