After the first leg of our bus journey to Zadar (and don’t worry, we’d never heard of this town till now either), we find ourselves wandering around Zagreb in a state of sweaty confusion, dizzy from the heat and completely mystified by our difficulty in locating food. We decide against the dubious ‘cheese pie’ offered by the single open restaurant we come across and eventually find ourselves eating thick slices of greasy pizza on the cool floor of the old train station.
For a bit of context, in pursuit of a bargain, we’re travelling on buses from Vienna to Zadar which despite the 13hr long day, costs us pennies really. And the views are pretty epic. On the bus we are lucky to have air con, but at one point, the engine is turned off at a service station, and passengers frantically start to grapple with panic at the buttons above them, so we are not that the only ones who can’t quite hack the heat. When we pass through Slovenia we do a bizarre walking border crossing, where all the passengers crowd around border officials who check whichever passports take their fancy, and casually wave past some of us.
After being in Vienna, we slow our pace, pretty much to that of Zadar’s Old Town. The daytimes here are relatively quiet, with many seeming to take refuge from the sun. Come evening, people flock to the picturesque streets of the Old Town, the floors of which glisten from the wear and tear of many centuries of visitors (they streets can be quite slippy!). People amble along the different walkways, stopping to buy ice cream, or souvenirs or watch music being played on the streets. Croatian aside, we hear Polish and German conversations float by, and naturally the odd English family complaining about the heat.
The town has so many old buildings and is so picturesque, and is a really calm place to be. We spend lots of our time wandering round with ice cream and just soaking it up. On the Monday, we visit Krka National Park, one of the main draws for us coming to Croatia. After an hour on a coach from Zadar we are delivered to Skradin, a small village on the river. Here you pay for entry to the National Park, then take a boat journey upriver to the waterfalls. The sky is a deep and perfect blue and the towering bushland that lines the river is fierce yet beautiful. We’re on the boat for around 20 minutes and people are really quite, all just taking in the scenery. We had really high expectations but the waterfalls totally live up to them. We are at Skradinski Buk, where you can view and follow a footpath around Krka Falls. Most of my photos show just the first few bridges of waterfalls but actually there are 17 bridges in total, going back further behind these, and that’s what you can walk around once you’re there. The colours are so bright and it’s so beautiful, and the water is perfect for swimming in.
On our last day, we just enjoy Zadar. By the water we find a small rocky beach area, and we spend ages in the warm sea, just floating peacefully or watching divers jump from a platform further along the coast. Afterwards there is so much salt in my hair that it seems a fair few shades lighter! We wander along the seafront of the Old Town and sit by the sea organ just to listen to the sounds. The sea organ is made by having steps going into the water with holes in, and a new sound is made every time a wave hits the steps. It’s really cool and much louder when a boat goes past as the waves are bigger, but when you’re there the steps look quite ordinary, so not really worth a photo.
Really three days wasn’t enough to properly sample all of the cheap pizza, beer and ice cream on offer or swim enough, but at least we made the most of it! If you had longer you could visit Plitvice Lakes, go island hopping or go up the clock tower in the Old Town. Or go to a festival. Or backpack the whole country…