Zadar – Last Days

One of the glories of traveling in the slow relaxed manner that Pam and I have adopted is never having to feel rushed or constrained by time.

Only on rare days where we have action that needs to be co-ordinated with third parties such as buses, airlines or (in the case of Plitvice Lakes National Park) tour guides do we have to wake to an alarm.

I inevitably rise on such days singing ‘Jeremy spoke in ….. class today’ as Pam has the ring tone of the Pearl Jam song ‘Jeremy’ set as her alarm on the phone.

Today I am not singing, we have slept late.

Oh such sweet, simple, joy.

Our plans for the day are minimal.

Zadar has a display of selected works of the world renowned Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic being held in a museum that is less than one hundred meters from our apartment.

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The display turns out to be one room full of statues, most of which have a common theme of mother (or Madonna) and child.

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There is also a permanently placed statue by Ivan Mestrovic in the open square in the town that is next to the museum.

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Our tour of these works does not take long, our only other plan for the day is to work on the blog which I am struggling to keep up to date.

I am so far behind by now that I am starting to feel like I am drowning in ‘lateness’ and I really don’t like feeling the ‘pressure of time’ whilst traveling.

Now we just have to find the proper setting in which to write.

Walking the Old Zadar town over the last few days I had noticed cafe/bars close to the University area offered 500ml beers for 10 Kuna each (approx $2 Australian). We head for the Uni.

We try bar after bar however we are driven onwards by a combination of distractingly loud music and suffocating cigarette smoke in each one and end up returning to an outdoor cafe/bar that lies immediately across the little square from the museum. Here beer is fifteen kuna ($3) per 500ml.

Another circle of life?

Hours pass as I type away, Pam wanders off and returns periodically, I get a lot done.

At about 3:30pm we decide to migrate to the cafe/bar that lies close to the magical Sea Organ to take in the sunset which is occurring at about four fifteen each day.

The enchanting sounds of the Sea Organ strip all ability to write from my mind.

‘Twas the Siren’s song and not the beer that rendered me mute’ I say to Pam.

As the sun falls lower in the sky the owner of the cafe/bar comes outside and starts checking the condition of the outside chairs and tables. He asks us where we are from, he has friends who work in the Croatian Embassy in Australia and we have a lengthy chat.

He tells us that ‘the previous tourist season was very busy’ and has ‘left Zadar happy’. We express how much we are enjoying traveling in Croatia out of season, how beautiful and relaxing the Old Zadar town is and how appreciative we are of the fantastic Croatian people. Particularly how easy it is for English speaking tourists to travel in Croatia.

The bar owner says ‘that Croatian men all want to learn English so they can talk to the beautiful tourist women’ which has all three of us laughing like old friends.

We wander over to the steps of the Sea Organ as the sun sets. Tonight there is a guided tour happening, the area is busy with people, we get an inkling of how busy the steps must be during the tourist high season.

Busy or not, everyone ends up entranced by the Sea Organs call.

We all sit quietly, hypnotised.

Watching, listening, reminiscing; whilst the sun slips behind the hilltop of the island lying across the blood and blue strait between.

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The next morning our sleep in is interrupted by knocking on the apartment door. Our landlord has confused the day we were to leave and is wondering why we are still in the apartment. A couple of minutes later all is fine.

As checkout time is not till eleven we are left wondering why she would turn up at nine am on a Sunday morning, but hey, ‘it is all good’.

We set off walking our flat fifteen kilometer loop to do our washing again before our move to the next town Split.

Other than my sexy striptease in the laundromat so that I could wash all nearly all my clothes in one go, this trip is unremarkable.

‘Hey, big spender’

On returning we pick one of the few remaining cafe/bars on the central street through the old town that we have not yet frequented to watch the ebb and flow of the town, and continue working on the blog.

As the day’s end approaches we get up to head to the Sea Organ for our last sunset in Zadar.

An older gentleman who has been slowly sipping a beer in the same cafe/bar also goes to leave simultaneously. He has been watching me type away and is fascinated by the combination of iPad and Logitech Keyboard cover that we use.

He apologizes for his poor English skills in perfect English, he has travelled the world in the merchant marine as a younger man and speaks many languages. He asks about the derivation of the term ‘iPad’, I don’t really have an answer other than to say ‘it is a commercial name’. He gives me examples of derivations of a half dozen words that have similar meanings in English, French, Italian, German and Latin.

He is way out of my league.

I show him pictures we have taken of Zadar, he is delighted to see the Sea Gate and tells us his home is immediately inside the Sea Gate and that he comes and has one drink in the town late in each day.

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He walks with crutches and he taps one of his legs with a crutch making a hollow sound. He has a prosthetic lower limb.

‘I have trouble walking far these days’ he smiles ‘thankfully Old Zadar is very flat’.

‘Flat and beautiful’ I reply.

‘Yes’ he smiles ‘flat and beautiful’.

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We wait until the last possible moment to vacate our apartment, our bus to Split does not leave until 1pm and sitting around in bus terminals is neither of our idea of fun.

On our way out of the old town we stop to purchase a small bottle of the local Cherry Liquor that the waiter in Bruschetta had shouted us. We are both fans.

Our bus journey to Split follows a winding road that hugs the coastline. We make stops on the side of the road and pull into towns along the way. School children are filling local buses in a very busy bus terminal in one of the larger towns we stop at. Cars and buses reversing in narrow spaces.

As the bus next to ours backs out there is a loud grinding noise accompanied by the sound of shattering glass, two of the buses full of school kids have made contact. No one seems very concerned (the kids don’t even get out of the busted up bus) however it really slows our exit from the terminal.

Our arrival in Split is over an hour late, we have texted ahead to the landlord who is going to meet us in the apartment.

We arrive in Split after the sunset, the air is cold and blowing in from the harbour lying next to the Split bus terminal. We consult the phone and google maps to find the apartment, it is not far from our point of arrival.

The side street that leads to our apartment is so narrow that we walk past it without realising we should have turned left. We double back and climb the slope of the ‘street’. I can nearly touch each side at the same time with outstretched arms.

The end of the narrow street bifurcates into two tiny cul-de-sacs….einy, meany, miney, mo….we choose left which turns out to be the correct way. Our landlord is waiting and chatting with one of the neighbours.

This young girl is super duper high energy.

She bounds to meet us, shakes our hands and introduces herself so fast, with so many rapid fire apologies for ‘not speaking good English’ that I completely miss her name.

She races up the stairs that lead to the apartment, Pam and I drag ourselves and the backpacks up after her. The crude galvanized pipe handrail on the stairs is very low and wobbles significantly when I grasp it.

This apartment turns out to be a funky little split level place, a little kitchenette and toilet downstairs, heaps of cupboard space and a bed and ‘ensuite’ on the open level above.

Our new super duper high energy friend is thrusting maps at us, telling us where to go in Split, telling us about mysterious ‘little houses’ along the Riva, showing me that the one of the lights in the kitchenette doesn’t work and asking me ‘if I know how to change the little bulbs’. She checks all the remotes, the air-conditioning remote is not working. ‘Flat batteries’ she says ‘you wait here, I will go buy batteries’. Before we can say we will be fine she is gone, our clothes flapping in the wind of her leaving.

She is back within minutes, changes the batteries, shows us where the best walks are ‘she rides every day around the headland, maybe we will meet her’.

She is still apologising for her ‘not good English’ as she closes the door behind her.

She has been so lovely and so friendly that we feel a little guilty about how exhausted we suddenly feel in the vacuum of her departure.

Out in the fresh chilly Split night air we wander for a short way down the Riva.

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Unlike the other regional towns we have been in Split is jumping. The Riva is packed, people sipping coffee and drinking, the ‘little houses’ our landlord had confusingly told us about turn out to be just that. Little house shaped Christmas market stalls (like a child’s drawing of a house) that are selling all manner of foods, drinks, confections and souvenirs.

We don’t walk far and end up having a quick bite to eat and returning to our apartment with ‘refreshments’ from the local supermarket.

The combination of the long bus ride and the ‘refreshments’ has us asleep under the pink covers on the upstairs bed in no time.

PLL

Pam and Mick

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