It feels like every city I've visited is steeped in so much history that is often too much for me to fully understand. From scratching the surface, Zadar appears to be no different but these days if you're visiting here the likelihood is that its as a result of imagery like this (image not mine).
As oppose to imagery like this:
Clearly that won't be the case for everyone but probably the vast majority - myself included as I was instantly charmed having previously seen this image online.
Rather conveniently for me, Zadar also happens to be the next logical step 'up the coast' before I would be faced with a directional dilemma. Continue to head north west to Croatia's largest peninsular, The Istrian, to visit towns like Rijeka, Porec and Pula with a view to proceeding into Western Europe OR go north and head towards the capital Zagreb to then enter Central Europe. As of this writing, I'm inclined to do the latter for several reasons including: I am hoping to meet up with a Croatian chap named Nikola who lives in Zagreb and whom I met for just one evening back down in Split. (I'll hopefully briefly speak about his story another time as its certainly an interesting one). Secondly, north is in the direction of a rather special tourist attraction here in Croatia that my Italian friend Laura referred me to over a month ago. Thirdly, ending my Croatian adventures in Zagreb will mean transport links to the country after this will be better accessible.
Do you remember in my last post I rather boldly said that I wasn't too impressed with the coastal scenery from Dubrovnik to Split? Well, I standby that statement - particularly in contrast to my most recent journey between Split and Zadar. This 3 hour stretch of road shows how a coastline should look! I lost count of that amount of times I wanted to get off of the bus right there and then and just chill along side one of those remote beaches that have only a handful of people lucky enough to be enjoying the turquoise water all to themselves. With a hire car and some friends (I currently have neither!), this vision could easily become a reality and so if I ever hear the story that one of you lot have driven from Split to Zadar in a car with some friends and 'chilled' along the coast for an entire day, I'll be envious, sad and reminiscent of what could have been...
Still, enough of that, let's move on to the here and now. So I'm staying in what 'feels' and certainly looks like a pretty decent hostel located on the outskirts of the walled port meaning I would cross the bridge below to enter the old town. Note the entrance to it also in-shot.
Here are two images from the bridge; the first is the view looking back to land and the other is on the other is where this water (and these ships) will shortly meet the Adriatic Sea.
Having now entered the old town, I set about photographing some of the architecture:
Whilst the old town was particularly busy, it never felt overly touristic which is the opposite of the southern stretch of coast I've journey from that has been rife with sun-seekers.
During my two days here I walked the entire rectangular shaped peninsula twice (although one instance was on bicycle) which isn't as full on as it sounds although each trip was in excess of 10KM. This also meant I spent a lot of time on the promenade right next to the Adriatic sea which felt liberating with sunshine on my face, tunes in my ears, wind through my hair and the not-so-sweet salty smell of the sea air through my nose.
Speaking of tunes, about ten years ago an architect was tasked with designing something fresh for the front. He designed the "Sea Organ" and "Greeting to the Sun" which are situated next to each other. One is audio; the other visual. The audio is created by the sea waves and tubes located underneath the marble steps. The visual is created by three hundred multi-layered glass plates that capture and store solar energy in the day whilst emitting this energy in the night. People say the Sea Organ "noise" is harmonious and many appear to really like the sound it outputs but to me, it was a mixture of a whale groaning and the sound of that blasted horn those big cruise ships let out.
Here is the visual spectacle by day:
And here are the panels by early evening:
Both the audio and visual "delights" were a bit of an anti-climax. Perhaps the latter would have been more illuminating well into the night...?
What wasn't an anti-climax was the sunset. It has been explained to me that one of Zadar's claim to fame was that as a guest of room 204 of the former Hotel Zagreb, Alfred Hitchcock is quoted as saying: “The sunset of Zadar is the world’s most beautiful and incomparably better than in Key West, Florida”.
I spent over an hour sat down by the harbour undisturbed listening to my music watching the Sun slowly go down and it felt pretty magical. Here are a small collection of shots taken within this one hour. The theme is of course 'going, going, gone...'
Right then folks I really did think the best things in life were free.
That was until this docked a short time later and suddenly I was drawn back into the materialistic world we all know. Forgive me for this slip-up, my first in a long while but weather you're into boats or not, there's no denying that these goliaths are certainly crowd-gathers!
Zadar has been another great city to have enjoyed but today, Thursday, I will journey on and move north into the country and to my penultimate destination in Croatia.