Maps, Markets and Museums

Centre- St Donatus (8th Century) and foreground- part of Roman Forum 3rd Century BC

Today we hired bicycles from a little shop in the old town. To say that the service was nonchalant is an understatement. The guy serving grabbed a couple of bikes, told us how much they would be and gave us a pamphlet with the stores name in case we needed to contact them. My tyres were almost completely flat, he hadn’t noticed but once I pointed it out he happily pumped them up and we were off. No deposit, no ID, nothing! When we returned them in the evening another fellow was there and asked if we had paid, no, so how long had we had them for? We paid. Like most people, we are painfully honest. It  is nearing the end of the season. Staff are ready for their holiday.

We rode into the city to the bus station to get our tickets to Split. It was reassuring having them. After that we rode to Punta Bajlo Beach- more for the locals than the tourists. It’s a headland with a swimming area overlooking the port on one side (not pretty) and a line of small cliffs on the other. Perched on the cliffside was the Tequila Sunrise Café where we had a coffee, a swim and watched the young women cliff jump. Here we met Anna. She was visiting her parents who had fled to the US during the conflict in the mid-90s and had since returned to live in Zadar. She had established a successful career as a professor of radiology in the States and visited Zadar at least a couple of times a year. We chatted for ages. She noticed John’s ankle injury (she pointed out how to see the swelling from a particular angle!) and recommended rest and ice. Delightful woman.

I was impressed by the fish markets- not something you’ll hear me say often! It didn’t smell…at all!!! The variety and freshness were impressive as was the produce from the Green Market outside. We settled on a couple of plums and decided to return the following morning to pick up some prawns which looked excellent.

A few people had suggested we visit the Museum of Ancient Glass. Fascinating. Functional glass objects date back to the second millennium BC but the most technological progress occurred around the 3rd Century BC. The museum had a vast array of examples mostly from local necropolis from the Roman era an era which could reasonably be described as the Age of Glass.

We were both feeling a bit dowdy and dishevelled so we decided a haircut would lift us out of the blues – it worked! Although Maria, didn’t have too much English, she got the general gist and we were in business. Latr we had intended to have an early evening meal then walk along the promenade to take in the spectacular sunset however we became so engrossed in our conversation with two amazing women we met at the restaurant we happily forfeited any other plans.

Sally and Barbara are Danish anthropologists, here in Zadar on a group research project. We engaged in a lively and interesting conversation covering a range of topics. Sally has studied the Sumi people and we began discussing alcohol dependency in indigenous peoples. She explained how it had significantly diminished over the years particularly since the Sumi had garnered a sort of autonomy with their own parliaments in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Both women had moved from the US in the 70s and both acknowledged it was due to the positive way women are treated in Denmark. They visit family stateside but are not tempted to return to their homeland. In fact, Sally is thrilled that her daughter who has experienced life in the US decided to move her family back to Denmark.

We joined the throngs on the promenade, listened to the Sea Organ and enjoyed the Salutation to the Sun once more. This wonderfully complicated, totally unpretentious busy bustling city leisurely wilted into the vanishing day.

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