After a week, it was time to be leaving Zadar for Split, our Christmas destination. We’ve booked an apartment for a month, originally we’d booked for ten days. That was changed to a month when we discovered the savings we could make, after comparing the monthly rate to the daily rate. It seems a bit crazy but the daily rate drops 41% when booking for a month.
Our plan is to base ourselves in Split and do some day trips to some of the surrounding islands and sights. It also gives us a chance to experience a little bit of Croatian Christmas. When we were in Kraljevica we discovered that Saint Nicholas’ Day, 6th of December is celebrated with children receiving gifts. Also some of the bigger towns have celebrations.
Packing the bike had a small setback when Michele discovered that the bottle she’d decanted some wine into had leaked. She’d inadvertently put the wrong cap on the bottle and it had leaked through the plastic bag containing the food. It had also leaked through her inner jacket and socks which the bag was sitting on and of course through the bed. Oops The wine was everywhere but the worst part, of course, was there was not a thimble full left to drink.
Once we were on the road it took ages to get out of the city with all the roadworks underway. We hadn’t traveled far at all when Michele tapped me on the head and suggested we have a coffee break. Little did she know I was already looking for a place to stop, because I was thinking the same thing. I saw the sign Plaza (beach) at Sveti Filip i Jakov just before Biograd and thought that’s where we want to stop. Wow what a nice place. The cafe had great views across to the island of Pašman and Otok Babak, but best of all the people were singing. We definitely picked a great place to stop at.
As we were drinking our coffee a local bloke stopped at our bike, when he saw the Australian flags and asked who’s bike it was. Soon he was telling us all about his family in Australia and New Zealand. Uncles and cousins who’d left Croatia to make a new life abroad. He also talked of visiting Australia when working in the Merchant Navy and how his love of his homeland had made him settle down in this lovely little town. It almost seemed a shame to be heading on to Split as the town seemed so welcoming. As we were leaving another bloke entered the cafe and burst into song. The patrons quickly all joined in. If we didn’t have a booking in Split we definitely would’ve stopped and booked an apartment in this little town.
One of the things we’ve come to realise is that the journey outweighs the destination. Having a tick and flick list of “the must do”, or the “ten best places to visit”, and “bucket lists” is just not our scene. It’s those moments in life when you connect with other people and share their culture, their humanity that’s the real essence of life.
Travelling south from Zadar the highway doesn’t hug the coast quite as much. Also the countryside is vastly different with lots of pine forests, cultivation, and built up areas. It isn’t as stark and beautiful as the coast between Rijeka and Zadar but the beauty of this ride is the little bays. Once we got past Šibenik the road to Primošten and towards Split hugged the coast a bit more. There’s a few spots where the pines really highlight the beauty of this area. Crossing the bridge which leads into Šibenik we really were shocked how big the city was. We were expecting a little town, but there’s a castle on the hill, with a medieval town below, plus a sprawling city running up into the hills and stretching along the coast. The weather was just perfect for a winters day, 14 degrees and sunny. Riding around the city it seemed that everyone in Šibenik was out enjoying the sun. Every cafe and restaurant with an available sunny spot was packed with people. Although it seems a little busy we’ve made a note to take a trip from Split to check this place out again. Going by the delicious smells of fish cooking in the restaurants along the waterfront, this is a place where we’ll definitely be tasting their fish for lunch when we return.
Heading south from Šibenik we suddenly realised that in the offseason finding somewhere to eat at lunchtime can be a challenge if you don’t know the area. After riding around a few small towns without any luck, we just found a supermarket to buy a breadstick and some fillings to make our own lunch. The next challenge to find a spot to have lunch with a view and toilet (or something similar). Sounds easy enough, wrong. View yes, toilet no or great to use as a toilet but crap place to stop. Meanwhile on the back of the bike Michele had a breadstick in one hand and a bag of mandarines draped over the other. Sort of a backseat juggling act, and hang on with your legs.
Before we knew it we were on the outskirts of Split and passing into the industrial areas, pretty unattractive really. From the top of the hill looking down across the city it looks beautiful with all the water surrounding it. As soon as we got down the hill it was just grubby and really ugly. It was about now that I was starting to have second thoughts about Split.
Eventually we gave up on the picnic idea and headed towards the accommodation. Nearby a large shopping centre was the perfect place to find a toilet and after hanging the groceries off the handlebars we headed across.
Unlike at home the only cafe selling food was McDonalds. However, in Croatia cafe’s are quite happy to sell you drinks while you to eat your own food at their tables. A couple of slices of pizza from a Pekara was a great alternative to a slack Mac. So instead we enjoyed a coffee at a local cafe whilst eating pizza.
After lunch it was just a short ride to the apartment where we met the owner and picked up the keys.
It’s a nice one bedroom apartment with a living space, outside patio and all the mod cons. Straight across the road is two shopping centres, a few cafes and the heart of the city is just over a kilometre away. Not so far at all.
Tomorrow we’ll check out the city but now it’s time to go shopping to make a home cooked meal.