September 2016, me and my partner Borko flew to Croatia to visit his family and friends. We’d spend the first week in Zadar and the second in Sibenik. Being a real me I’m a sucker for everything that’s different than usual. For that reason (being Dutch myself) I’m a sucker for the Mediterranean. The lifestyle, food, garlic, wine, doing everything manana manana and the oh-so-wonderful siesta’s. That said, this was the holiday during which I was going to meet his daughters, mother and friends for the first time ever..
The tickets to Zadar aren’t that cheap flying from Ireland, and as we booked way too late we paid over a €400 for two returns. But if you book smart (and on time!) the tickets to Croatia can be very affordable. My advise: book via www.skyscanner.com, you’ll find loads of cheap tickets there!
The arrival at Zadar was done in a jiffy, it’s a real small airport and within 15 minutes we were standing outside in the burning sun. Make sure you dress ‘light and airy’ or you’ll melt like a popsicle within your first 2 minutes in Zadar. But no worries, you can hide yourself in one of the many packed busses in no time; headed for Zadar bus station. From there on, you can continue your journey to your end location or city center. In our case the end location was a short 10 minute walk to the family house.
The family house we called home for a week is a complex of 4 apartments used throughout the year by different family members. Babba (grandma) Ljubica finished her holiday home just a week ago (as per the Dalmatian tradition, you prepare your own tomb when you know death is lurking around the corner. When finished you celebrate this with the whole family and lamb on a skewer), so some family members were still hanging around.
You can imagine how happy I felt when I walked up to all those family members in my ‘light and airy’ white dress, not being ‘light and airy’ at all; more looking like my brain just melted all over myself, to introduce myself. While I was awkwardly waiting and desperately trying to pull my dress out of my but crack, two beautiful dark-haired young girls took all my sweaty sorrow away by telling me straight on that I was even more pretty than the pictures.
Yes. My heart melted. And all that sweating and melting ain’t too bad because thank lord in heaven; Zadar has a beach. A pebbled beach, but a beach. A beach has water; I was happy. It’s big enough for the amount of visitors and it’s got plenty of water activities. The water temperature is just lovely around the summer months (no later than September though) but do make sure you get yourself some water shoes.
From the beach you’ve walked your sweaty bum to city center within 15 minutes. Walk through the old Venetian city gates and get overwhelmed by the beauty and atmosphere of Zadar. It’s like stepping into a time machine. Big pebbled roads, small alleys, historical artifacts and many stores and terraces make it a lovely place to be. The city welcomes you until the late nightly hours for a snack, a giant pizza, some Italian ice cream or some (very cheap, very strong) cocktails.
Zadar knows an old and beautiful city center filled with hidden gems. Make sure you visit the open-air discotheque hidden within the beautiful old Roman walls. Get lost in the small alleys and you just might stumble upon lovely rustic corners perfect for a romantic dinner for two. You know, one of those stare-each-other-deep-in-the-eyes-over-candlelight ones.
Coming to the edge of city center you end up with a beautiful view over the ocean with many more terraces to enjoy a drink. Make sure to drink a glass at the terrace of the old Hotel Zadar from where Hitchcock saw “the most beautiful sunset in the world”. Follow the line of planets on the boulevard (all on scale) until you end up at the famous sea-organs of Zadar, all supported with a modern light spectacle during the evening hours. Take a right turn and shop around between the many stalls to get yourself a nice hat or an overpriced souvenir. You won’t need more than a week to discover Zadar (do note that it has 2 centers!) and I’d advise to continue to travel to one of the other beautiful city’s.
After a lovely week with family and kids we travelled through to Sibenik. Completely exhausted but thrilled and satisfied, continuing our discovery through Borko’s childhood.