Zadar – Beauty & Convenience
I like beautiful things. I really do. And so do you. But I also have a penchant for hoarding my pennies. Or budgeting shall we say. So when I met Zadar, Croatia – I was thrilled that my love of beauty and Penny-crunching intermingled flawlessly into a convenient little bundle.
Forget the name dubbed to Dubrovnik, the entire country of Croatia is crowned the Jewel of the Adriatic. With its orange-roofed houses standing proud along the coastal country, and its delectable assortment of island paradise’ – it is not wonder the country comes with a substantial price tag. One price tag, which I may add, due to no partaking in extensive research, or wishing to admit to myself truthfully, I did not know about prior to arrival.
So after realizing I’d have to up my budget to stay in even modest accommodations and eat – well – anything – It was a most pleasant surprise to meet Zadar. It wasn’t on my original itinerary. I hadn’t even heard about it before (lack of research on my part). But when I came to the realization that I didn’t want to sit on a bus for 9 hours from the capital of Zagreb to the Splendor of Ruins that is Split, I decided to make a stopover in Zadar. And SO glad I did.
Zadar is still a Croatian tourist destination, but drastically less so than its larger counterparts to the North; Pula, or to the South; Split or Dubrovnik. So I felt like I stumbled on the perfect layover city. I arrived to Zadar’s bus terminal early enough – 9am. Since I didn’t know I would stop here, I didn’t have an accommodation plan in mind. And what I love about Croatia, to the chagrin of most other travellers, is the locals with SOBE signs upon arrival. Sobe means apartment or room in Croatia and the locals are holding signs with maps pinpointing where they have a room for your disposal.
I love these touts, I like to think of them as a game. Sometimes I play to see the best deal I can find, other times, such as now, I was actually in search of excellent accommodation. Every once in awhile a girl needs a little privacy; the ability to sleep alone, have her own bathroom, and walk around in her bra and panties to fight the heat without receiving questioning or intrigued looks. An apartment rental is the perfect antidote to hostel fatigue.
Zadar was quieter than Zagreb for the touts. I walked off the bus and was not approached. As I took two steps away, an elderly man approached me asking if I needed a room. Only $15/night, up in the hills. The climbing of hills put me off slightly, but then he continued – with a free drive to/from down-town today when I wanted and a free return trip to the bus terminal when I pleased. Turns out this was the best bargain I would receive in Croatia, never mind in Zadar. (I got an excellent deal – the hostels in town cost $32/night! without free transportation)
So I put my bag in the trunk of the car and up, up, up the car climbed until we arrived at the house. His wife and son sat on the porch idly chatting and doting on Maria – his adorable brown-and-bowl-cut haired grand-daughter who would later be a source of entertainment for me.
I put my stuff in my apartment. Private room, private bathroom, and even a kitchen. All at my disposal. He wrote down all the apartment information and left me to my privacy stating when I wanted to leave to come outside, he would take me to the old city. I breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe this going-with-the-flow and not researching prior to arrival would save me effort. But I dismissed this thought knowing I love the researching aspect of travel too much to forever be a leave-it-to-karma type.
The house is situated at the end of a road. A road which turns into tall grasses and devours the hills surrounding. A hill that looks out over the old city of Zadar and gives me a view of the Adriatic Sea and the islands off the coast. I enjoy sunset here while popping cherries in my mouth later in the evening. This is one of those travel moments that will forever ingrain into my memory.
We putter on down to the old city. He drops me at the bridge and tells me I’ll be back in 2 hours exactly and I’ll look for you, but if you’re not ready to leave, just call me later. Kindness and generosity are two things never to be taken for granted.
I walk across the bridge to the peninsula on Zadar. This is the fortified section of the old city. The walls stand guard and I know I want to walk them. I start my circuit of the old town and spot church steeples playing peek-a-boo with me through the buildings. I make it to the opposite side of the peninsula and am met with a promenade hugging the Sea.
I make it up the promenade and find the peek-a-boo steeples. The lawns in front are lined with original pieces of marble from the churches and buildings in the area.
Because I get hungry I headed into the back streets in search of seafood. Since Croatia IS on the coast and I DO love seafood – I found a seafood restaurant down a cobbled street. With purple flowers on the table, and a breeze blowing through the canopy. I most thoroughly enjoy this lunch in Zadar.
I met my relaxing Croatian match in Zadar. I only stayed 1 night on a driving layover, but I could not be happier with what the one day of exploration introduced to me. A laid back, reduced-tourist destination with the relaxing charm I look for in a place.