Hi everyone, I must apologise for being a bit lazy with uploading posts. To tell you the truth, the last few days have been pretty relaxed so I haven’t felt the need for a daily update, but it’s been a while so I’m sure you all miss me…
To fill you in: on day 9, we explored the town of Zadar. We departed from Split in the morning and enjoyed another scenic 3 hour bus ride north to our destination. Zadar is place steeped in history. The town is an open air museum in itself; an ode to the Roman Empire which once presided over the area for centuries.
At every turn you’ll find anything from relics to podiums to full blown Roman baths.
We were shown through the city by a local guide whose passion for her town was clearly evident. She had spent years researching the history of the place and was able to inform us of the story behind every nook and cobblestoned cranny of this delightful little town.
Unfortunately (for me), this tour coincided with a very important event which landed me in a great quandary.
You see, this day was a day that doesn’t come around often.
In fact, aside from last week, it has seldom been seen in the last 8 years.
What day is it? You ask eagerly.
Well, my friends.
Today is a day that I can at last exploit my (1/4) Senegalese heritage and cheer them on in the Football World Cup!
It just so happened, right as the lovely guide was showing us through this cafe into a secret ruin from times long ago, we happened to walk past a TV where Senegal were playing Japan. I had been covertly refreshing google every 10 seconds for the updated score, but it was too much to resist walking past an actual TV, particularly as the scoreline (at that point) was in our favour.
I lingered at the screen whilst the rest of the group went forward into a journey of historical enlightenment. I thought I wasn’t missed, but for some reason, a half African person with bright yellow braids and silver glitter love heart earrings seems to stand out in rural Croatia. Weird.
Subsequently, the hawk eyed elderly bar man spotted me. He didn’t speak much English but he spoke enough. He looked at me with a narrowed gaze.
“Senegal?” He enquired.
“Senegal!!!” I offered
“Senegal!!!!!! 2:1” He proclaimed
“Alles! Alles!” I chanted.
We high fived.
Football really is the beautiful game.
At that point the rest of the gang came out from the tour and I stealthily joined them. We then had a scrumptious dinner at Pet Bunara, which featured cuttlefish ink bread, Pag island cheese, and a beef and porcini cream pasta that was so incredibly rich and beyond creamy that I wondered what the hell else they put into it.
The next day, we ventured over to Pag Island.
I stopped at the same cafe to grab a “coffee to-go,” where my old mate from last night offered me his commiserations in a brief interchange that went something like this:
Haddy (to the younger guy on the till): Hi, can I have one white coffee to go?
Old mate (appearing from the side lines, arms up in the air in a flagrant display of dismay): Senegal?!
Haddy: That’s me, I’m so sad we drew
Old mate: Senegal! 2:2, is bad
Haddy (head bowed, brow furrowed): 2:2, is bad
We then share a solemn hand shake and I leave with my cute cup of coffee.
Getting back to it, I must admit, when I heard we were going to Pag, I had a vivid flashback to some really weird arthouse music video I once somehow saw when I was a kid by a band called Pag (here’s the shortened version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xX5WNiWqh8k – watch at your own peril).
For some reason, crazy old me thought in order to get to Pag ISLAND we would have to utilise a water based vehicle. In avid anticipation for this I planned the appropriate outfit which included one of those
amazing hideous sailing hats and a shirt the colour of a jaundiced sun. Turns out there’s a bridge, so my whole curation was completely wasted and much to my dismay, we drove over into Pag.
Pag is famous for being a barren hinterland devoid of greenery but with plenty of salt and sheep.
The salty sheep make salty cheese which makes Haddy happy. After exploring the beach side town, we were treated to a real Croatian local lunch at Opg Kukovic, which consisted of the Pag cheese, veggies, lamb and the softest and saltiest potatoes you’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. We were then shown where the magic happens, aka the cheese goes to age. It is an interesting and difficult craft and I had a lot of respect for the lady who so graciously invited us into her home to feed us and teach us about the art of cheese making.
We then left Pag and spent the afternoon chilling back in Zadar. The shoreline of Zadar is probably it’s main attraction. At the waters edge is the famous installation named Greeting to the Sun. This was created by architect Nikola Bašić in 2008 and represents the sun and the planets and the way they interact with the light. At night it is lit up from below with many different colours and is a sight to behold. The auditory accompaniment to Greeting to the Sun transcends above the hum of tourist chatter.
Intertwined with the sounds of the gentle waves breaking, floats the melancholy melody of the Sea Organ, its haunting song created by the swell as it skirts through the man-made organ pipes located below the water’s surface.
Additionally, the sunsets from here are apparently the best in the world, according to world sunset expert Alfred Hitchcock.
Although we paid for the tour yesterday (which was well worth it as the guide was brimming with local knowledge), I liked that the culture is free for all to enjoy. It really comes alive in the evening, and we spent our evening pizza eating, window shopping and people watching.
I liked Zadar but I can’t eloquently explain why. I’d visit again.
I’ve got a 5 hour bus trip tomorrow, so I’ll give you the lowdown on Plitvice National Park (providing I don’t get car sick). Ciao for now.