‘Are you sure it’s okay to climb in the water?’ Mark worryingly called out from the bank in Zadar.
It was an end of a long hot day and I simply wanted to cool down in the sparkling blue waters of the Adriatic Sea. We had gone to a well-known spot just south of the city where all the locals go after work to sunbathe and relax. However, I couldn’t fathom what laid on the sea bed. You just couldn’t tell. Breathing in as I slipped into the water, my feet scrambled for something to grip hold on. It was mossy, sharp and slippery due to the dark rocks that drew me in. Occasionally, I would feel errant seaweed touch my ankles that had my imagination run wild. What exactly lived in the sea?
‘Ah, come on Mark, don’t be a pussy! It’s all perfectly fine,’ I called out to him metres from the shore while I thought I might have just sliced open the soles of my feet. This was to put our manliness to the test. Noticeably, on this side of the sea breaker where we chose to sunbathe, there were hardly anyone in the water compared to the other side. But this side was where we could find a spot to claim our own. As Mark started to lower his legs in the water, it was when pandemonium happened. There, I came face to face with the monster that lurked in the waters of Zadar…
Check out Part 1 of Day 5 of Backpacking in Croatia to find out how we journeyed to Zadar.
Sightseeing in Zadar
Let’s roll back earlier in the day…
In the centre of Zadar, we had just left our breakfast, bruising about the table service in Croatia. Deciding that we better make the most of the time we had left in Zadar that day (We only had one day to fully explore it), we decided to explore the sights. Here’s what we found…
Zadar Old City Centre
A mixture of modernity and ancient architecture mingles together in this small city square filled with Corinthian pillars gives it a great backdrop to start sightseeing the Old Town of Zadar. You can reach this place through the entrance of the Mainland Gate just to the east of the city.
Zadar’s Marble Laden Streets
One of my favourite things about Zadar has definitely got to be its marble floors. You do feel you are transported to another age. You could imagine being a Roman noble sauntering down these streets ready to play a game of thrones…
Church of St Donat and the Church of Saint Mary
Named after Bishop Donat, you can see the church is built in Byzantine architecture. It used to be built over the Roman Forum and you can still see the slabs from the original forum in the ruins that lay open to the elements. If you check out the western side, you’ll be able to see more Roman remains with pillars dedicated to Medusa.
In the distance as you walk along the water front, you may just hear the siren call of the nymphs, the daughters of Neptune, melodically draw you into the Adriatic Sea. Such mystique, slow and hypnotic calls are the work of the Sea Organ. Designed by local architect Nikola Basic, the Sea Organ is set into a series of stairs climbing down to the sea, its whistles and pipes evident through holes that breathes out harmonic tunes when the movement of the sea pushes the air through it. Expect to hear a little more loudly as a boat passes by. As you climb down the stairs into the sea to swim, you’ll feel like you’re being reeled into the dark blue depths of the ancient sea.
Right next to the Sea Organ, you’ll stumble across another of local architect, Nikola Basic’s creations in Zadar: The Sun Salutation. It looks strikingly modern amid the ancient looking harbour but it proves to be Zadar’s biggest attraction. With 300 multilayered glass plates cut into a wide circle, the Sun Salutation collects the sun’s energy during the day. Coupled with the wave energy from the Sea Organ, the Sun Salutation comes alive at dusk producing a multi-colourful display of lights that wows the visitor. The best thing about the Sun Salutation is that, thanks to Croatia’s sun filled days, it has enough stored energy to power the entire harbour lighting system! I heartily recommend that you visit at dusk that coupled with one of the most stunning sunsets you’ll ever see in your lifetime, the Sun Salutation will also give you an evening to remember!
Zadar Old Harbour Waterfront
After you swing by the Sun Salutation, have a wander down the Old Harbour Waterfront. The best thing about the waterfront is that it’s still a working harbour. With cruise liners, ferries and fishing boats a plenty, it’s a great place to watch the world go by. Just remember to slap on the suncream!
The Garden On The City Walls
Soon after you come off the Old Harbour Waterfront, you might find yourself in front of the old city walls. It may be hard to see as there’s now a small road/car park running across the top of the walls! However, persist and you will be pleased to discover a hidden place. This is the Garden. With gobsmacking harbour views, it’s a definite place to chill out in the shade during the day. Lazing on mattresses, hammocks and hidden alcoves couldn’t be better. Actually, there is, there’s a bar there as well! Tucking into delicious cocktails, this is a perfect stop for any sightseeing journey.
Eating Out in Zadar
If you actually manage to find a restaurant with pleasant table service, please do let us know! However, passing by a local looking restaurant and feeling remarkably hungry after only one croissant between the two of us in the last ten hours, we knew we wanted to take an early dinner. We opted for the grilled fish. After all, we are right next to the harbour. Looking fantastically delicious, our joy soon turned to disgust after we took a few mouthfuls. Unfortunately, the fish wasn’t de-boned. This meant that we had to pick every small bone off and as a result, completely put us off our food. You can see Mark’s (not so) happy expression. Luckily, we had a few Croatian beers to wash them down.
If you do find yourself in Zadar and looking for food, you can’t go wrong with the many Italian Restaurants found here. Serving a delicious range of pasta and pizza, you’re sure in for a treat as we discovered the next day.
Feeling tired from all the day’s activities, we decided to head back to the Wild Fig Hostel, where we would be staying. But beforehand, we thought we’d do a pot of sunbathing at the Karma ul strand we were at earlier on this morning before we arrived in Zadar city centre.
Facing the Lurking Monster of Zadar
Ah, now we have come full circle. So I guess you want to know what happened on the Karma ul Strand?
I was already urging Mark to come into the water despite the fact I was getting a little freaked out by strange objects I was feeling around my lower legs. I breathed to myself, surely that tentacle is actually a seaweed. I calmed myself (I had a REALLY bad experience with Crabs in the sea when I was really young), it was all in the mind I simply thought. All I had to do was prove my manliness.
Mark has just lowered his legs in the water when I started screaming wildly. Pulling his legs out of the water quicker than a prostitute drops her knickers, he stared at me horrifyingly as I flailed in the waist-deep water, my feet trapped by the rocks below. Why? It was simply because I felt the slimy skin of an extremely large creature that pressed again my butt and legs. Hence, why I started screaming. In the midst of the chaos, I landed in the water on my front and tried to swim to shore but the ‘thing’ was entangled in my legs! I gave a long desperate moan to get out. But strength found me and soon enough I hoisted myself onto shore. People looked over with puzzled expressions at the commotion I was making. I pointed a shaking finger at the creature that burst its head over the surface, ready to mock me. That’s when we realised that I was being a drama queen.
Guess what! The lurking monster of Zadar was actually…a deflated inflatable caught on the rocks.
With sheepish looks between us both, we promptly put on our sunglasses and swiftly moved to the other side of the Strand. There, the water was far deeper and devoid of man-eating inflatables. We could sunbathe to our heart’s content whilst watching cocky divers miss sharp rocks inches from their heads. Perhaps, we could swim in the bay, ready to do battle with the current. I was relaxed, but there was only one thought that I had:
‘I survived the terror of the Lurking Monster of Zadar.’
Check back soon for Part 3 of Day 5! (Yeah, I do way too much in one day!)
Want to read more Croatian Adventures? Check out the following:
Day 5: Hitching Croatian Airlines to Zadar
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