Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Zadar, Croatia

Zadar is a city in Croatia along the Adriatic Sea. It is a 2-hour bus ride west of Plitvice Lakes.

[History Lesson: Zadar’s urban structure is a result of the Roman times, Julius Caesar and Emperor Augustus holding it down. The town was fortified and city walls and towers with gates were built. In the Second World War, most of Zardar’s sea front was destroyed, and then repaired using a lackluster concrete wall (more on that later). It has a detailed history if you care to learn more here.]

It’s a city encased by a wall- as many of these Croatian island towns are. Our apartment was smack dab in he middle. I wouldn’t call the city beautiful. Most of the architecture is the same colors and shapes making the town seem monotonous and uninspired.  

After a light seafood dinner, we did some exploring along the coast and came across 2 of Zadar’s big attractions, the Sea Organ and The Sun Salutation.

[History Lesson: Sea Organ. Architect Nikola Basic built it in 2005 to bring some life and beauty to the aforementioned boring concrete wall. It’s an experimental musical instrument. It play music generated by the motion of the sea waves through a series of 35 organ pipes built under a set of marble steps.]

[History Lesson: Sun Salutation. It is just a few meters away from the Sea Organ put into place at the same time by the same architect. It’s a 22 metre diameter solar panel formed from 300 multi-layered glass panels. Underneath the glass, there is a sequence of solar cells.  The cells absorb energy from the Sun all day and convert this energy into electricity. This electricity is then used to light the waterfront at night. At sunset, the installation switches on and displays a series of bright colored lights.  Along with the power of the waves, the motion of the lights depends on the energy collected through the day. It also represents the motion of the solar system. All eight planets are represented by proportionally sized solar lights places at proportional distances from the sun.]

You can see this at mark :42 of the video.

Sun Salutation
The next morning we asked our landlord where the beach was. She pointed to one off the map and we put on our suits and headed that way. Upon arrival, it was not your typical beach. Instead of miles of sand and ocean water, it was a short walkway covered in pebbles while the water only stretched to the next island over yonder.  

By the lack of hotels, souvenir shops, restaurants and rent-a-chairs, we could tell this was a very local beach, and didn’t cater to visitors. We were happy to see this side of town, but with grumbling tummies we headed towards the more touristy area to find a bite to eat. We found a lunch spot right along the sea.

After eating fresh calamari and refreshing Radlers, we were ready for more sea swimming.

We walked a couple feet to the edge of the ledge where it meets the water. Along with the many other people doing the same, we spread our scarves out and made that our spot.

Looking down at the sea from the ledge, you couldn’t tell how deep the water was. Kelly and I both wanted to jump off the ledge but didn’t want to break our legs. We used the stairs to get into the sea and realized it was quite deep. So we then took turns jumping off the ledge into the water. This was my favorite spot in Zadar. It was definitely a different swimming adventure. One I’ve never had before but very much enjoyed!

The Worst Best Idea Ever (Later that night)

The idea was to sit on the steps of the sea organ enjoying the turbulent yet peaceful sounds while noshing on slices of pizza and sipping beer. When we got ready, we followed our noses to the nearest take away pizza shop. We both ordered one covered in mushrooms and peppers along with a draft beer and headed to the organ along the coast.

As soon as we left the pizza shop, the wind drastically picked up. In order for Kelly not to flash her drugstore panties to everyone, she couldn’t physically hold everything and walk. I put her slice under mine while she held her beer and the back of her dress for dear life.

As we approached the sea organ and what was tooted by guidebooks and travel blogs alike as the world best sunset, utter chaos ensued.

As the sun began its pictorially quick decent behind the sea, the winds picked up even more. Water began splashing over the concrete ledge soaking screaming crowds, pooling at our feet. As Kelly’s dress flew over her head, the 2 pizza slices flew out of my hand with a splat on the ground as tourists tripped to avoid the mess. In a fowl swoop, I grabbed the pile of cheese and toppings. (Yes, if you’re wondering… we still ate them.)

Kelly now needing 2 hands to properly conceal her pink under-roos, handed me her beer. Armed with 2 beers and 2 dirty pizza slices, we were still at least 40 meters away from our destination. Instead of battling the winds and crowds, I motioned to a nearby bench. As the wind swirled around us and vacationers were still shrieking from the violent waves, I realized the sun was setting quickly and I only had a minute or two to get my shot. I instructed Kelly to try and pin everything to the bench. I maneuvered between the sightseers to get my sunset snapshot. They’re not the best, but I was happy with the outcome. (The two pictures I got can be seen at the top of this post.) 

We devoured our pizza and chugged our beer. As we finally reached our original sea organ destination, the winds slightly died down, the skies turned grey and the predicable rainstorm came.

We were drenched but continued to sit and enjoy the peaceful, sometimes mournful sounds of the sea organ.  

We spent the next few hours there. I pulled out the stealthy bottle of wine from my purse. We sipped and marveled. Talking about life and other peculiarities that you do when you’re in such a places as this.  The sea settled as the rain turned into a drizzle and then to nothing at all.

Violent waves... some using them to get on shore.
Tourists at the Sea Organ
Ice Cream!!
The route from the Lakes to Zadar

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