My relief as the turbo-prop plane touches down in the dark morning is palpable. The flight has been loud and bumpy. Pam’s right hand still bears the crush marks. There are four passengers alighting at Zadar, we scamper across the chilly tarmac and enter the terminal.
So far we have been what I feel is exceedingly lucky with our luggage however when the conveyor in Zadar stops rotating we are missing Pam’s backpack.
Our landlord for the apartment in Zadar is picking us up from the airport. I gesture through the glass door that the luggage has not arrived while Pam dashes out and advises the luggage handler of our plight.
Five minutes later and all is good, with Pam’s pack recovered we climb into the Renault van and head into Zadar city.
We arrive at the Sea Gate of Old Zadar beside the ferry terminals as the sun is rising.
As we disembark our landlord Eva advises us that other than delivery vans vehicles are not allowed within the Old Zadar walls and therefore we will have to walk to the apartment.
Having walked a thousand kilometers across Spain has us well prepared for the flat 200 meter walk from the van to the apartment.
The apartment turns out to be modern and functional however there is no kitchenette, we will be eating out a lot in Zadar.
I don’t see that as a problem. Let’s start with breakfast.
We have breakfast at a bar/cafe/restaurant that is part of a hotel. The hotel has closed in the tourist off season however the restaurant stays open all year. Our breakfast is delicious and the cafe is only fifty meters from our apartment.
We stumble back and tumble into bed.
After the disco fiasco of the night before last and the early rise today we are both very tired, the apartment has what Pam and I now call Spanish Blinds which completely seal the apartment from light.
We have discussed installing Spanish Blinds in our house when we return to Australia as I have an aversion to sleeping when light is seeping into the room and love these external blinds.
In the sweet darkness of the crypt we sleep for hours.
Pam has ordered a book detailing the Lycian Trail in Turkey online to be delivered to the Post Restante Zadar. My knees groan in anticipation.
When we wake in the afternoon we set off for the post office. Our path takes us down the cobblestone main street of the old town, past what we later learn is the Five Wells area and then a long chilly windy walk along the footpath between the harbour and one of the the Old Zadar fortification walls.
Everything is spotlessly clean, no rubbish or trash anywhere.
There is an air of timelessness and ancient beauty everywhere.
We try the general post section then the parcels section without any results and turn back towards the Old City (Stari Grad Zadar)
Sunsets are occurring early now, I have looked up the sunset time (4:17pm) in Zadar online and by the time we have made it back into town sunset is about a little more than an hour away.
We have Linner at a restaurant in the Five Wells area and afterwards we make our way towards the ‘Sea Organ’ and ‘Salute to the Sun’ for the first time.
Croatia has a long history predating Roman settlement. We have had the privilege of being able to witness ancient ruins and historical buildings from Croatia’s past in our adventures thus far.
Now we take a step into the present.
Zadar sings a song, a wild song, a song that rings in the air like a dialogue between whales.
The Sea Organ is an innocuous looking series of steps that meet the Adriatic near the most Western point of the landmass of the Old City. In the concrete of the pier 35 pipes draw air inwards with each wave trough via round vents embedded in the footpath. The air is trapped with each indrawn cycle by a simple valve and forced out by the compression of incoming waves through pitched whistles that lie in the risers of the concrete stairs.
The tune is endless, discordant, melodic, hypnotic, completely unlike anything I have ever heard before.
Sounds change with the swell size and frequency, the swell from passing ferries play a unique and ever changing series of notes that resonate out over the clear waters of the Adriatic.
We can hear the melody of the Sea Organ as we approach and quicken our stride in response. As we reach the water the sun is hitting the hilltop of the island Iglijan that lies on the other side of the strait we are looking over.
The broad stairs of the Sea Organ make comfortable seats, we sit and watch the sunset until the sky overhead is dark.
The Salute to the Sun fires into life.
Salute to the Sun is a disc shaped solar powered installation of LED lights that flicker in waves and patterns entrancing child and adult alike.
There is a young lady with very professional looking camera equipment taking photos of the lights as they dance across the disc. Once she is done I do my best to catch the dance with the iphone. I have already taken a video in a slow spinning circle standing on the Sea Organ steps to capture the haunting sounds and I repeat the circle spinning in the middle of the Salute to the Sun as the LED waves course below my feet.
In the cool evening air we are almost alone in the middle of this unique modern installation.
There really is something to be said for traveling out of peak tourist season.
The next morning our first point of call after breakfast is the nearby tourist information office. We are very keen to see the Lakes area of the Plitvice Lakes National Park as well as to get information on the Zadar region.
Despite us being the only people in the office the girl does not seem very keen to help. Perhaps we have interrupted what might have otherwise been a tourist free day.
She informs us that the highway we would need to take to get to the national park has been closed due to ‘wind’. When we ask how wind could close a highway we earn a stare that plainly says ‘moron tourists’ but no real information. Our choices seem to boil down to either taking a bus that only travels each direction once per day and staying overnight at the national park or taking an expensive car service.
We grab some maps, ask about laundry services, and decide we will be better off researching online.
Our main task for today is to do our washing as we have not washed any clothes since Zagreb. The old front way, backwards, inside out, inside out backwards joke is about to become true.
There is a coin operated laundry about six or seven kilometers away, the post office lies en route.
The book Pam has ordered has still not arrived. As we walk onwards towards the laundry it begins to rain lightly.
We pass the bus terminal and stop to get some information regarding buses to Plitvice National Parks and the location of the laundry. The ladies behind the ticket booth look at me like I am mad. Plitvice is covered in snow and the laundry is a few kilometers away. ‘Why don’t I catch a cab’? they ask.
The reason I don’t catch a cab is that it is nothing for us to do a fifteen kilometer round walk to do our laundry anymore.
We ARE mad.
Once the clothes have started washing Pam declares she is hungry and elects me to walk back to the nearest shops (the bus terminal) to get some food.
I return with a vegetarian pizza which we scoff down in the laundry like a couple of bogans.
By the time we have made it back to the apartment the sun is close to setting once more. We make our way back to the magical sounds of the Sea Organ to watch the sun set and then have a superb dinner at the restaurant Bruchettas.
After the laundry lunch we really needed to class things up.
Mick and Pam