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Plitvice - Zadar

The beauty of nature is unsurpassed but man can add some excitement to the mix

View Slovenia and Croatia Wanderer 2015 on Grete Howard's travel map.

After an early breakfast we go off for one last look at the the park before leaving the area for the coast. We take the bus down to entrance one, and walk along the rim for spectacular views over the lakes and falls from above.




No steps today, just a smooth gravel path with a slight incline; and “balconies” built out over the canyon for viewing.







Some of the “balconies” overlooking the gorge have the view partly obscured by vegetation which is a shame.



I make no apologies for the number of photos from this last glimpse and the most beautiful place in the world. This morning I so didn't want to get up; I so didn't want the hassle of getting the bus and walking; I so didn't want the trouble of putting up my tripod to get some milky shots of the waterfalls using my ND filter and a long exposure. I am so glad I did!





I love how the guy standing at the end of the walkways has turned into a ghostly figure from the long exposure.


It is with a heavy heart that we leave Plitvice and head for the coast. My knee, on the other hand, is grateful as by now it is hurting like hell. I take a double dose of painkillers (and some) and promptly fall asleep in the car. I wake up just as we come out of a tunnel and turn into a rest area. This is one of the strangest service stations I have ever seen – it is obviously very new, made on a plateau created from the rubble removed during the creation of the tunnel. The whole area is completely barren, and there is a huge welcoming sign advertising that they are open 24/7.

The café itself is almost as barren. A few chocolates and crisps, a selection of alcohol, 3 croissants and 2 rolls. We have coffee. There is plenty of available seating.


It's like a ghost town until a Swedish two-dad family with three unruly kids invade. Time to leave.

By the time we get to the guest house in Zadar, Homer and Eddie are already having lunch in the conservatory. We join them for some Pršut and Paški Sir – the local ham and cheese.


Pansion Delfin
The room has an unusual rounded wall, giving the impression we are in a ship.




The whole of the old town of Zadar is pedestrianised, and we are lucky enough to find a parking spot right by the gate that takes us through the old town walls, which we enter to wander around. The Old Town is a strange mix of old (no surprise there then) and some newer parts with fancy shopping streets; narrow alleys, pavement cafés and tacky souvenir shops.



We have a map, as well as a self-guided walk which I printed off before leaving home, so we are able to figure out what we are actually looking at.


St Chrysogonus Church
The Romanesque style church was named after Saint Chrysogonus the martyr, a patron saint of Zadar. The church and the bell tower are the only remaining preserved parts of the formerly large Benedictine abbey whose foundations were laid in the 12th century.


Zadar is smaller than I expected from studying the map back home, and is easy to walk around, especially as it is all flat.

The Forum
This municipal square from the Roman era (1st - 3rd Century AD, so pretty darn old!) is one of the most important among the Adriatic ancient cities. The “Forum” is the name given to all main squares in the cities of the ancient Roman Empire, where the public life of the city unfolded.




Pillar of Shame
Today is is an open square surrounded by what remains of the temple and buildings from the old days, as well as a couple of churches and the “Pillar of Shame” that was used to chain up people who had committed some misdemeanour or another. What a great idea!


One thing that amazes me is that the whole area is open to the public, and you are free to wander all around, touch and sit on the 2000-year old stones, yet there is no graffiti or vandalism.


St Mary's Church and Convent
On one side of the forum is the St Mary's Church, which dates back to 1091.

The Church of St Donatus
The symbol of the city of Zadar, St Donatus Church from the 15th century was named after the Bishop who started the building of the church usings the remains of the Roman Forum in its foundations


We walk down the narrow, cobbled alleyways and the wider shopping streets, watching life go by, before arriving at Narodni Trg Square which is surrounded by historic buildings.



Narodni Trg Square

City Lodge

City Centinel

We join the many tourists and locals for a coffee at one of the numerous pavement cafés.


At Trg Petra Jeronica Square, recent excavations under the pavement has been re-buried to preserve it, but parts are exposed with a glass floor where you can peek at the remains of this Roman city. Pretty cool!



While we are there, busy photographing, we totally by coincident bump into Homer and Eddie, who took the bus into town some time before us.


Madije Park
The park named after Queen Jelena Madije and was built on top of the Grimaldi bastion. Dating from 1829, it is the city's - and country's - oldest park, and quite unusual in being constructed on top of a military object. These days it is an oasis of peace with some lovely little cafés.



The Land Gate
From the elevated position of the park there is a great view of The Land Gate , which was erected in 1543 as the main entrance to the city. Its Renaissance-style decorations include St Krževan on horseback (the coat of arms of the City of Zadar) and the Venetian lion.


Next to the gate is the small Foša Harbour


City Walls
Wanting a birds-eye view of the narrow streets of Zadar, we climb the City Walls. This wasn't, however, the view I was expecting...


Most of the walls were built during the Venetian rule and it was once the largest city-fortress in the entire Republic of Venice. Today, they are mostly used as a car park, and the only view I find of interest is that of the footbridge from the mainland. Of course, David might disagree with that.


We make our way back down into the city through the back entrance of a huge supermarket (with great views over aisles and aisles of produce) and head for the southern promenade called Obala Kralija Krešmira IV.



Sea Organ
One of the main attractions here, it the Sea Organ, a novel idea which consists of several stairs that descent into the sea with 35 pipes of different sizes which create “music” (seven different chords and five tones) as the waves crash in. I have never seen – or heard – anything similar before and I rather like it. The sound is really quite peaceful and reminds me a little of South American pan-pipe music.


In 2006 Croatian architect Nikola Bašić received the European Prize for Urban Public Space for his Zadar Sea Organ project, as the best among 207 candidate projects from across Europe.

The Greeting to the Sun
The other attraction here is the Greeting to the Sun. Created by the same architect who made the Sea Organ, this is a circle of 300 multi-layered glass plates with photo-voltage solar modules which store light from the sun during the day; while after dark a programmed scenario of ever-changing coloured lights move to the rhythm of the waves and the sounds of the Sea organ.



While we wait for the sun to go down, we people-watch at this iconic spot.




Any hopes of a good sunset are dashed by dark, threatening clouds looming on the horizon.



We are joined by Ivan – the waiter who served us a lunchtime in our guest house – and his girlfriend Marta, who are out walking their dogs.


Little by little the lights start coming on. I am sorry to say they are not as impressive as I expected.




Suddenly my attention is dragged away from the man made light show in front of me, to one supplied by Mother Nature herself: LIGHTNING!

The lightning is frequent but irregular, and doesn't appear in any one particular spot, which makes it extremely hard to photograph as you cannot predict where it is going to happen next. There are some great forks across the sky, but I never manage to catch them. I do succeed in getting a few shots of the light show, but most are not in focus or very small in the frame. This is the only reasonable picture I get out of the lot of them!


Eventually the lightning flashes are so faint and infrequent that I give up trying to photograph them, and while I havebeen busy looking elsewhere, the lights on The Greeting to the Sun have come on properly and are now brightly swirling around the circle.



OK, I take back what I said earlier, this is actually quite cool.



By the time we get round to thinking about eating, it is really quite late, so we ask Ivan for a recommendation for a good fish restaurant nearby. He suggests the Bastion, which is on the first floor of a four star hotel. We “umm and arr” about what to order and finally settle the fish of the day.


The waiter comes over to us with the fish on a plate and we choose which ones we would like, settling on a John Dory and a scorpion fish, for the whole table to share. While he takes the fish back to the kitchen for them to cook, he brings us an amuse bouche of tuna in oil.


Homer enjoys a bottle of local beer.


When the fish is cooked, the waiter fillets it at the table and places a piece of each on a mound of potatoes and vegetables.


The fish is very nice, albeit with quite a lot of bones.

The main shock comes with the bill. For the four us, with just 2 beers and four cokes, the bill comes to £250. Gulp. We call the waiter over and asks him to explain. The fish is priced by the kilo, and this is how much they charge. What an incredible rip off. We leave with a VERY sour taste in our mouth.

Posted by Grete Howard 05:31 Archived in Croatia

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