Travelling through Zadar, Dugi Otok & Pula, Croatia
Day 9 – Zadar
We were up early for our drive to Zadar, we picked up some pastry from the bakery, packed up our tent and were back on the road. Our Air B&B host had given us details of the free parking by the hospital just out of town as the majority of Zadar is pedestrianised and then walked into town.
The rest of the afternoon we generally wandered around and booked onto a walking tour from the tourist information office for 6pm. We walked all the way around the edge of old town Zadar looking out to sea and sat a long time by the sea organ, which sounds a little bit like a whale. The water was so clear you could see hundreds of little fish swimming around just below your feet. At one point a passenger ferry went past and the waves that came in flooded some of the lower steps and the sea organ went absolutely mad. It was hilarious as everyone, including us, scrambled to get away so we didn’t all get soaked.
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At 6pm we headed to the People’s Square and met Lidja our guide. She has lived in Zadar her entire life and was hilarious. She talked us through Zadar’s history and all about the fortifications that were built throughout the years and during all of the different sieges that happened on the town. Like the rest of Croatia, Zadar has been taken over by so many different people over the centuries and there are four walls of defences.
The old town used to be an isolated island so was impenetrable by sea due to these defences. So much so that Venice bribed the Pope’s Army with the promise of boats to take over Zadar and hand them the power. They knew that as a Catholic city, they would just allow the Pope’s Army in knowing they wouldn’t attack them. Which they then did alongside burning down the Cathedral.
Throughout the city there are so many Catholic churches in the city that the locals use their locations more when guiding themselves around than the street names. There were so many that now a lot of them have been converted for other uses such as museums, banks and gift shops.
She also told us that as a women you used to have three options, you got married, you looked after your elderly parents or other older relatives or you became a nun. Even when you become a nun your father had to pay a dowry so nowadays the nuns are actually quite rich. So much so that they had made a number of hilarious investments including a leading Croatian football club and a piece of land that they later sought investors for a 5* Hotel on. They also run a music school and nursery in their grounds.
Part of our tour took us past the old Cathedral with its hilarious foundations. The architect is seriously rolling in their grave as they used pillars and other odd shaped objects from the old building on the site previously to make the foundations, all of which are now on show. We also stopped as a cheese shop to try some award winning cheese called Paski Sir from the island of Pag. The bora (or wind) is so rough on one side of the island that it picks up and deposits so many salt particles that half the island in white and the sheep’s cheese is naturally very salty.
My favourite fact however was this. If you can’t sing, we say that you are tone deaf. In Croatia they say that a donkey farted in your ear.
After the tour we went back to the tourist office where we all had a shot of maraschino, a local liqueur made with tapiwa berries found along the Dalmatian coast. We also chose to pick the locals brains about what to do tomorrow as we didn’t have anything booked. They recommended that we get the boat to Dugi Otok an island just off the coast from Zadar which is where they like to go as it’s not hugely touristy yet. Dugi Otok translates to ‘Long Island’ becuase, well… it’s a long thin island. We got details of a company we could rent a smart car from as the car ferry times didn’t really allow us to do much exploring.
For dinner we ate at La Famiglia. After waiting 30 minutes for a table Jack was so hungry that I had all of 10 seconds to look at the menu and order what I wanted. I opted for the Burger La Famiglia and Jack ordered the Big Boy Burger. They arrived with a knife holding them together and they tasted really good. I also ordered a gin and orange which was literally half gin. Some of the measures around Croatia have been brilliant. Our plan was meant to be going out for a drink at one of the various bars around town but we were so tired that we headed home.
Day 10 – Dugi Otok
We headed down to the port to buy our tickets and get on the boat to Sali on Dugi Otok. The boat was full of locals who had got the 6am boat over to buy all their fresh produce to take home. We were also treated by a pod of dolphins who followed the boat for a while. Upon arriving at Sali, we picked up our Smart Car – Jack had thrown a wobbler by the thought of driving a VW Up for this trip so we’d paid more for the Polo and here we are now with a battered SmartCar. It was basically like driving a Go Kart round the island.
First on our road trip was the lighthouse Veli Rat at the other end of the island which took us about half an hour to drive to. We did make one stop on the side of the road along the way as the view across the islands was incredible! Our first proper stop was just a sightseeing stop but I did collect some shells from some of the rockpools. Upon inspecting them I realised that two of them were actually still lived in so had to put them back.
We pottered about a bit and then drove onto Sakarun beach. We had heard that this beach has been on several best beaches in the world lists are we can completely agree. The parking was 60kn for the whole day or 10kn per hour. It wasn’t that busy and full of Croats, so that was pretty cool in itself. The sea was the clearest sea I have ever been in and it was shallow to about 60m out. It’s a pebble beach but white sand under the water. We utilised Jacks underwater camera and our snorkeling stuff and spent nearly 4 hours here. It was absolutely beautiful!
Our third stop was the Salt lake in the nature park called Telašćica. It’s a lake that is connected by underground channels to the sea, so it’s salty, but looks landlocked. The salt is also meant to make it easier to float. We had timed our arrival really badly with a party boat full of drunk loud people who crashed about in the lake. We did get into the water, for all of about 10 minutes the water was murky and full of long shelled crustaceans which crawled up Jack’s leg and that was the end of that. Coming from Sakraun with it’s crystal clear water the salt lake surrounding by its pine forrest almost looked dirty. We jumped back in the car and headed back to Sali for some dinner and to wait for the boat.
Once we arrived back in Zadar we walked around to The Greeting to the Sun which is a circular light show powered by solar panels that comes on at night.
Day 11-16 Outlook Festival
We packed up our bags for the second to last time and had our longest drive yet to Pula. This was our final stop for Outlook festival, where we ate and drank too much, spent too much time lounging around and listened to some great artists in some insane venues, like a 2,000 year old Amphitheatre and an Old Fort. It also rained… A LOT! To the point that at one point we were soaking wet with near vertical rain dancing while the DJ played from underneath a tarpaulin at the back of the stage.
I hope you enjoyed my post of travelling through Zadar, Dugi Otok & Pula. To read more about my Croatia Road Trip, click here.