Barely 24 hours into Croatia, and I am loving it!
I have managed to put the hustle and bustle of a full day of travel behind me. It was hard at first to settle in. I was lucky enough to have enough frequent flier points to upgrade to a business class seat to get here, so I knew I would be travelling well. The dinner on the flight was better than what I had made for myself at home before leaving, but then isn’t that always the way when you are trying to eat your kitchen down! Nothing like cereal for breakfast and lunch!
If you are flying in to Zadar, there is a shuttle bus direct from the airport to town – so quick and convenient – the buses are scheduled to meet the flights – the driver even checked to make sure everyone who needed to catch the bus was there. Loaded with locals and tourists, the bus dropped us off at the local bus station where confusion set in. It was as if the bus schedule was more of a recommendation than a fact. The weight of my pack and the sun started to take its toll as I waited almost an hour for bus #2 to take me right to the gates to enter Old Town Zadar. Apparently, this is unusual – must have been payback for that amazing flight!
Afternoon in Zadar was chaotic – people everywhere, crowded alleyways and street signs that I could not read. August is the busiest season to visit Croatia – I quickly saw that the advance booking of my hostel was the smartest move. Sitting in the reception area, backpacker after backpacker arrived looking for a place to stay….sounds like the town was sold out! It wasn’t long before people were being sent to the neighbouring town.
The Old Town Hostal – my new home for the next couple of days – couldn’t be more perfectly located. Once again, I was in the centre of everything. What Old Town Zadar lacked in size, it made up for in character. Trendy bars with plush seating and stunning views were easy to find. Everyone was on vacation. The war between Canon and Nikon was on in the photography stakes – cameras were out and snapping everywhere! Steeped in history, old and new, Roman ruins and the fortress wall, Zadar was like a step back in time and just what I was looking for.
The city itself isn’t that big. Some of the backpackers I met encouraged me to go to Split – better nightlife they said! Jet lagged and wiped out, Zadar seemed to be the perfect welcome to Croatia – ease into my life back on the road, and soak in the atmosphere.
Before long, the call of the Adriatic was too much for me, as I dumped my camera and headed to the water. It felt so great to get in. I love how in Canada, we have basket ball courts and ball hockey that breaks out in the street. As I made my way to the pier, I could see a water polo area set up, and a highly contested game underway. On both sides of the pier, people were jumping into the water – convenient steel ladders bolted in the rock at intervals to climb out. It felt a little strange to swim off the concrete pier, but the water was well worth it as the heat of the day and the rigours of travel melted away. Needless to say, an idyllic afternoon in Zadar! Welcome to Croatia – The Mediterranean As It Once Was.