Our ferry departure from Mali was incident free. The same cannot be said for the English family we met on board. Apparently, Toby fell into the harbour! He just tripped and fell, miraculously missing ropes, buoys, pylons, other boats…. Not everyone could do this. It helps if you are male and twelve. His mum Sarah, dad Richard and brother Jack of course came to his rescue. I did feel sorry for Sarah and Richard. John and I have been so starved for conversation we badgered them for at least an hour. It was just so good to speak normally, to be understood and be able to engage- thoroughly enjoyed their company. They had spent a week in Zadar and were happy to give us some tips.
The accommodation was just 350m away for the port. The problem was finding it. Old cities -and this one is ancient- are labyrinths. Google maps wasn’t too bad, and we crossed the road, breached the old city walls and began our reconnaissance. As we dragged our luggage through the melee of a car park, past the wheelie bins and spilt trash, over the cobblestones which might have been laid millennia ago, we discovered many of the buildings were not. Post-modern, communist, utilitarian boxes surrounded us and our apartment was in one. Initially it was a bit daunting, but the owner responded immediately, and his father arrived within minutes to let us in. Although his English was very limited, we clearly got the idea we were ‘in’ the old city. He was right.
Zardar is amazing. It is steeped in history, art and culture but a has a pragmatic and totally unpretentious sense of itself. I really like this city. During WW2 almost 80% of the buildings were destroyed by Allied bombing. It is considered the Dresden of the Adriatic as there seemed no apparent industrial or military significance to the war. I suspect the wealth of Zadar didn’t match that Dresden and consequently the less ambitious building projects.
It was Saturday and the old city is crowded with churches, fifteen, I think. We were bound to run into a wedding, and we did. The musicians, the guests the happy onlookers – it was such an uplifting way to begin our sojourn.
Next we stumbled into 4 Kantuna- absolutely wonderful food, great service and an excellent venue. John had homemade pasta with shrimps and truffles while I had a seafood risotto. This was definitely a great decision.
St Donatus Church, the symbol of Zardar was less than 200m from our apartment. This ancient church completed in the 9th Century was initially called the Church of the Holy Trinity but later, in the 15th Century, named after a famous bishop of Zadar. It hasn’t been a church for a while – the Venetians used it as a warehouse, the Yugoslavs as a museum and now it’s a concert venue due to its incredible acoustics. And it is just beautiful!!!!
Sunday the bells went off!!!! What a cacophony!!!! Churches, museums, the old and the new. Zadar hums. See for yourself… I’ve borrowed a video..