And life goes on …

When you are on holiday, you tend to dismiss the fact that people actually live in the places you visit. And when you do notice that these idyllic places are inhabited, you then wonder what their lives must be like. Where do they live? What do they do in their spare time?

Wondering through Rogoznica it was clear that life was being lived. Meeting up with friends for a drink. Taking the kids to the beach. Fishing on the rocks. Singing to your heart’s content, without a care in world – as I stumbled upon this little boy serenading his dad. Such a pleasure, indeed, to be reminded that people are the same everywhere, well all things being equal at least.

And as I ended my visit to the northern Dalmatian coast of Croatia, the island of Rogoznica, its simplicity, its serenity and its beauty remain imprinted indelibly on my mind.
(another Saddle Skeddadle journey)

And finally a rest day …

From cycling that is. The beauty and relaxation still full on.

The KrKa National Park is characterized by exceptionally rich and varied flora and fauna. It is home to an amazing waterfall, beautiful walk paths and peaceful views. While we took the ferry up to the waterfall, we decided to return to the town of Skradin on foot – just to keep up the exercise I suppose. But it also gave us the opportunity to enjoy the views missed on the way up.

We ended our day on the beautiful island of Sibenik. Unlike other cities along the Adriatic coast, which were established by Greeks, Illyrians and Romans, Šibenik was founded by Croats and as such has been fiercely defended by them during the many wars that ensued.

Its reconstruction after the final battle in August 1995 is testament to a people proud of their island, proud of their achievements, proud of their history.

(another Saddle Skeddadly journey)

Can it get any more beautiful …

An early morning cruise to Preko took us cycling through to Tkon. An easy cruising ride leaving the port of Preko, serenaded by the sound of what seemed like local opera, made you want to stay just for a while and enjoy a cup of coffee with the locals.

The views were once again magnificent as you crossed from one island to the other. Our coffee stop gave us the opportunity to explore the nearby church – what seems to be a prominent fixture in almost every town we visit. Croats are a deeply religious people and suffered terrible under Tito’s rule when he discouraged outward displays of religion as part of his effort to meld the ethnic identities – no surprise therefore that they lost no time publicly celebrating their Catholic faith when the country declared independence. Amazingly all the churches have a very similar design. It’s almost like ‘Ground Hog Day’ every time I take a photo.

Back on the cruising trail we stopped off in the middle of nowhere to enjoy the cool waters of the Adriatic Sea. Always so refreshing. And then on to explore the simple quiet island of Zlarin. A much quieter town, we strolled through to the top, picking fruit along the way – figs and grapes – the sweetest I’ve tasted in a long time.

To end off the day, we joined the locals in watching the sun set, with the now expected cool breeze to set the mood.

Waking to another beautiful day …

There’s nothing like waking up to the soft movement of water, a cool gentle breeze and the vision of boats sleeping on the water. What a delight this morning. I took the opportunity to explore a bit more of the trails, in the quiet moments of the early morning. Peace, peace and more peace.

The cycle course today took us through the undulating hills from Sali to Savar. Beautiful vistas of the mesmerizing blue sea, a glimpse of the fish farming industry and the early turn of leaves announcing the beginning of Autumn.

Savar was a delight – the peace and quiet of this small quaint town, very welcoming, allowing us a swim in its very cool waters, leaving us to our whim and fancy.

By contrast, we sailed to Zadar to rest for the night, the oldest continuously inhabited city in Croatia. Filled with wanderers, all making their way to the sea front to share the delight that is their sunset. The story goes that, to facilitate the improvement to the reconstruction done to repair the sea front after its devastation during the Second World War, a competition amongst architects for the most original design was created. This resulted in the construction of sea organs, concealed tubes and a resonating cavity that turns the site into a large musical instrument. The waves interact with the organ to create ramdom harmonic sounds.

That coupled with the sunset, proved to be a peaceful relaxing end to another perfect day.

Sailing the Croatian islands

What a busy, beautiful day. Cycling from Vodice to Murter, through small villages filled with sunbathers of all ages enjoying the warm rays of the sun, while others braved the very crispy waters of the Adriatic Sea. Campers, locals visiting for the day and the adventurers – like us – cycling through slowly and intently, observing, smiling, enjoying the ride.

Back on the boat for lunch, we sailed through the archipelago of Kornati National Park – a stark contrast to the opposing islands that were covered with trees. The Kornati National Park comprises 109 islands of which 76 are less than 1 hectare in size. It is believed that the islands were once covered with lush Mediterranean forests but were plundered for their wood to construct much needed ships for war. And to this day they have not recovered.

We anchored on the peaceful island of Dugi Otok, one of the safest natural bays in the Adriatic – just a couple of sailing boats resting across the bay. This island is home to the Telascica Nature Park which houses the Salt Lake ‘Mir’, home to the endemic specie of eel call the ‘Kajman’.

We hiked the mountain to take in the views of the cliffs ‘Stene’ rising up 200m over the sea and ended the day with a swim and quiet evening meal.


Excitement …

First Cruise, first bike and cruise. First visit to eastern Europe, first visit to C R O A T I A. Enough firsts to warrant excitement, I would reckon.

Another first – we made no major prior investigations as to what to expect, which islands we were visiting, local beverage, which wine to drink, what food to make sure we eat, not even trying to learn how to say ‘thank you’ and ‘good morning’ – which by the way is “Koala” and “Bok” (spelling?)

Still excited, we arrived in Split, at night, immediately making our way to the old city of Trogir after checking into our very posh Apartmani – ‘Hmm”, we nodded “not bad at all”. After all, not much thought went into any preparations – not even accommodation.

Trogir, whose culture was created under the influence of the ancient Greeks and afterwards the Romans and Venetians, was named by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1997. It has survived nicely through the different architectural inputs and if you close your eyes you can easily be transported back to ancient times.

Now however, it was buzzing with activity. People everywhere. Restaurants full. Bars even fuller. Glasses clinking, laughter, chatter. Excitement building. The narrow streets teeming with people of all ages and nationalities, meandering, peering into each shop, heading to any where. Enjoying the moment.

We joined the movement. Scouring every corner, every building, unwittingly following the rhythmic music in the background and soon, without warning, stumbled upon pure merriment. People dancing, a live band playing – and, naturally, we joined in.