A quaint, quiet seaside township
Our decision to visit Zadar was almost last minute, made after reading a blog that raved about the area. We also decided as we are travelling in the off-season, it would be better to travel to the Plitvice Lakes as a day trip. Zadar proved to be the best place to use as a base for this trip. A quaint, quiet seaside town, once we arrived we realised Zadar is well worth a visit.
We spent three nights in the town, however, as we arrived mid-afternoon and spent a day at the lakes, we really only had a day and a half in the town. This was the perfect amount of time to explore the township and get a feel for coastal Croatia. With many shops boarded up and closed for winter, we only got a snap shot of the town; I can imagine Zadar really comes to life in the summer.
Yet again we lucked in, booking a great studio apartment on Air Bnb. We were impressed with the mature gentleman who met us, complete with a sign, at the bus station. Genuine and friendly, he wasted no time in assisting us getting settled into his apartment. While his English was minimal, he managed to converse well, telling us several important bits of information about Zadar and the surrounding area.
I continued to relish in the opportunity to cook, utilising the basic kitchen in our studio apartment each night. Embracing the European culture, we have been mainly having pasta and risotto. We also opted for sandwiches as a way to try and stretch our budget a bit further.
ACTIVITIES & ATTRACTIONS
The Plitvice Lakes are a major attraction in Croatia. As we are travelling during winter, we opted to hire a car in Zadar and visit the lakes as a day trip. Aside from the trip to Plitvice Lakes, we spent our time exploring the township of Zadar. Much of the town shuts down during the winter but the township itself is amazing. Narrow streets lined with ancient buildings make it easy to imagine you are walking through another time period, picturing the lifestyles of those who were living here hundreds of years ago.
We wandered the boardwalk alongside the coast countless times. Not only is the coastline beautiful, a sea organ has been designed, which leads nicely to the ‘greeting to the sun’ feature.The sea organ is the first in the world, designed to utilise the movement of the waves and ocean to create harmonious sound. The perforated steps house 35 pipes, each of which are different lengths, widths and tilt, allowing the sea to force air through whistles, bringing a whole new sound to the seaside.
Merely meters from the sea organ is the Greeting to the Sun. Three hundred mulit-layered planes of glass sit level with the paving, covering solar panels that power an incredible light show. Aiming to communicate with light in the same way the sea organ communicates with sound, the light show starts simultaneously with the sunset and continues into the night putting on a show that follows the rhythm of the waves.
PEOPLE & CULTURE
We have been overwhelmed with the smoking culture in Croatia. Thinking we had left indoor smoking behind in Asia, it seems ridiculous to travel to yet another country where people are still permitted to smoke indoors. Unfortunately, having a coffee means chain smoking for many locals and the coffee shops are clouded with a hazy tobacco smoke. With such strict smoking laws in both New Zealand and Australia, we were surprised to find that these laws are not more common throughout the world.
WHAT WE LEARNT
It is becoming more and more clear that Croatia is a destination mainly visited by tourists in the summer. When we hired the car, the man working was quite curious as to why we were travelling in the winter. While it is colder and quieter than we expected, we are really enjoying our travels thus far. In fact, I think the season has made the travel more enjoyable as we have been able to see the sights without battling thousands of others attempting to do the same thing.
As we continue through Croatia it seems it is cheaper to travel here than some parts of Southeast Asia, or at least extremely similar. We are really enjoying having the ability to cook, something we haven’t had the luxury of doing since we left Australia. We have also found the Air BnB accommodation options have been really reasonably priced; in fact, we are paying less for the studio apartments than what we paid for the dodgy room at Koh Rong.
Our plan is pretty well set; from here we will gradually travel south until we hit Dubrovnik. After a few days there we will catch a ferry across to Bari, Italy, where we will start our Schengen Visa.
As always, we would love to hear your feedback and comments. Also, let us know if you have any hot tips or new ideas for us as we travel. If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it on Facebook, Pinterest or one of the many other forms of social media. To keep up to date with everything on thedustyroad, please subscribe to out mailing list. Thanks for being a part of our journey.