After my illness and the mad crush of humanity in Split, Croatia, Zadar greets me with a smile. Instinctively I like it. It’s a decent sized city, but the tourist area is small enough to be undauntably walkable yet big enough to stay interesting for several days. Zadar’s bus station is what I expect a bus station to be – bustling, but not a nightmare, and the sea breeze makes the 20-min walk with luggage at mid-day very bearable (but for only 40 KN – $6 – I’ll taxi next time!).
My first stop is the tourism bureau, where the nice lady arms me with loads of info, including maps, bus and ferry schedules and a list of things to do in Zadar. Roman ruins? Check. Electronica festival? Got that. Live jazz on the square? You can find it. Lazy day at the beach? Yep, that too. I can even do my day trips to Plitvice Lakes and Krka from there. Score!!
My favorite attractions in Zadar are the Wave Organ and adjacent Greeting to the Sun. Each night people gather at the tip f the island to watch the sunset at these two engineering wonders. The Wave Organ uses the sea’s motion to create a haunting, natural melody, and Greeting uses that motion and solar lights to put on a stunning light show.
After a few hours in the hot sun at the beach, I make my way back into town and am captured by the sound of a street musician’s Spanish guitar. I stop at a sidewalk cafe and listen for an hour or more.
The Vivariva Electronica Festival is in town, and the first night I dance to my sweaty heart’s content, alone among strangers. The second night, though, “I am too old for this” has a head-to-head collision with “I am too young to not do this.”
Best yet, Zadar is my chance to visit the nearby island of Dugi Otok on the day of its annual Donkey Racing Festival.