Zagreb to Zadar
Hello from Zadar, Croatia does like za 'za' sounds. Zadar is on the central coast and I arrived on a bus after a three and half hour trip from Zagreb. We mostly passed through fairly rugged mountains (the word 'Balkan' means mountain apparently) on the way and didn't see much in the way of towns or people.
Zadar is a charming small city. The old town, where I am staying just off the main square, is on a small peninsula surrounded by brilliant blue sea. The mainland is the more modern and residential part of the city. During the day, the sky matches the sea and turns an Adriatic shade of blue. Each day I wander around the historic city center, which brings to mind Italian towns with narrow, pedestrian-only streets and alleys. Zadar does feel a bit like Venice without the canals, and not surprisingly it once was a part of the Republic of Venice. There is even a tower like the one in St. Mark's Square in Venice.
The apartment is nice, modern on the inside but in an older pastel-colored building on the outside. I am trying to take advantage of the chance to cook since the food here is heavy on pizza, pasta, fish and burgers with a side of great fresh vegetables. Also not helping there is an ice cream place about every half-block. The Croatians do like their ice cream...and their coffee. And also every half block or so, is a cafe of some sort, either a regular restaurant or a collection of chairs and small tables along the sidewalk. Both kinds of places are popular with locals out meeting their friends in the warm, sunny weather. Dogs are welcome too. I am learning to be patient and go with the flow since the customer service is out of the old Eastern European playbook. Sometimes the servers are also hanging out with their friends over a coffee, beer, or cigarette. People are friendly and a surprising number speak at least some English.
I haven't had a chance to explore too much but have enjoyed (mostly) the sounds coming in through the louvered windows of the apartment. Depending on the time of day, I can hear seagulls, church bells, school kids, late-night revelers, traditional folk music from the main square (pictured), and less optimal, a busker playing the usual classic rock covers & acoustic Abba songs like Fernando (maybe I am supposed to pay him to stop?). Memorably, on the evening of June 3, I heard people singing hymns. I looked out the window and on the street below to see priests swinging incense led a
procession of people for the feast of Corpus Christi. It's an interesting place and once work wraps up I look forward to learning more, especially about the curious Pillar of Shame listed on the map (below) ... perhaps a good place for Fernando ...