It was a beautiful sunny morning when we woke but, at 2 degrees, it was too cold for a walk. So we set off at 8.30 am to make our way for the 2 hour drive to Zadar.
We’d noted yesterday how the cluster of low rise buildings in the area reminded us of ski lodges so it was no surprise to spot small ski fields on our way driving out. The lodges were all relatively well kept but it only took a few kilometers of travel back on the main road for a return to the abandoned and half finished homes to return.
We’d previously been told that Turkish and Chinese money was funding a lot of works in Croatia and this evident on the drive to Zadar. Whilst the housing stock was poorly maintained, the roads and highway looked relatively new and were very good. There was a massive high-tech 6 km tunnel that the EU or other interests must have funded as this out-sparkled anything in the vicinity.
Our Zadar apartment was located in the Old Town right beside the Roman Forum. The lack of an elevator meant that Mark got quite a workout carrying the bags up to the fourth floor. The views were worth it though when we got there as the large balcony looked over the Roman Forum and the Zardaski Channel, a body of water leading out to the Adriatic Sea.
We settled in and then ventured out for a bit of a wander and to have lunch (Eat Me) but needed to return home soon after to check on the car. Our lunch waiter was a friendly young guy and keen to learn more about Australia but was shocked by the cost of housing. He informed us that average wage in Croatia was about 5,000 Kuna per month and this translated to just a bit more than what Matt and AB pay in rent in a week! He looked rather pained discovering this fact.
One thing we noted in our first bit of walking was how many young people were about and the fact that the University was here in the Old Town no doubt explains that fact.
Parking was proving a bit of an issue for us though as there were only a few ‘unlimited’ parking spots and so we used paid parking for the first few hours until a free spot turned up. Luckily, we only had to wait until around 2 pm for one to offer and then we were free to set out again to roam the streets.
The Old Town of Zadar is relatively small and I suspect the perimeter could be we walked around in about an hour. We had a walking tour booked for the next day so we decided to head out, like real tourists, with our Lonely Planet book in hand to explore the major sights, of which there were only 14.
First stop was at the Land Gate (1543) and from there we drifted to the site of some more Roman Ruins before Mark decided he needed a beer. Afterwards, we passed the Peoples Square before heading back towards our apartment location to the Roman Forum and St Donatus’. St Donatus’ dates from the 9th Century and holds two original Roman Forum pillars.
The Roman Forum dates back to 1st Century BC though so it was rather surprising to see the crumbling ruins laying bare for all to traipse through and on! One of the more interesting sights in the Forum was that of a Roman pillar that had been used to flog and humiliate wrongdoers.
We also passed by St Anastasia Cathedral 12-13th Century, badly bombed in WW2 and subsequently rebuilt and then walked out through the Sea Gate to the waters edge and walked around the headland towards the famous Sea Organ; an architectural instillation on the waters edge with embedded pipes that whistle as water rushes under pushing air up through the pipes.
5 pm rolled on and so we headed to La Bodega for a drink; a great atmospheric bar for a drink and then on to 4 Kantuna for dinner. We met a nice couple from Brisbane whilst at dinner and made plans to catch up with them somewhere down the Dalmatian coast.