Day 8, 9 & 10: Zagreb & Zadar

Only in Europe can a wrong turn mean getting to a country that was not on the itinerary!

Leaving Budapest early morning with the intention of stopping at Lake Balaton for lunch before we reached Zagreb, we turned the wrong way at the autobahn…..3 hours at 160km/hour later, the names started looking distinctly not Croatian.

A stop in the middle of nowhere and we discover we are about 500 + km’s away from where we needed to be, close to the wrong country!
An about turn, and a stop in the smallest town ever for our packed lunch & we head back towards Budapest and then on to Croatia.

A vastly underrated country, Croatia is amazingly untouched and breathtaking in parts.

Zagreb shows signs of the civil war that tore through former Yugoslavia, buildings are pockmarked and many have damages yet to be fixed. There are dreary & dull paint jobs that look very Communist era like. But the Old City is stunning, narrow lanes and  some beautiful churches. One forgets that Ottomans ruled here for many years and the Moorish influence still comes through.

The old fort is a good hour’s hike and steep in parts but the views of the city from the top are well worth it.

There is a beautiful museum inside the old town that had an electronic map of the advance of the Allied and Axis forces during WW2 and it is amazing how far and how fast the Nazis’ overran Europe.

Another gem in this quaint old town is the Museum of Broken Relationships. An amazing collection of the stories behind little artifacts and objects that remind us of failed relationships- not in a sad way, but in a more introspective kind of way!

It would have been good to have more time in Zagreb, but we managed well with 5 – 6 hours and head out to Zadar on the Croatian coast.

The beauty of the Croatian coast is hard to fathom- the Croatian Riviera on the Adriatic sea is less  commercial and touristy than the French or Italian Riviera. The beaches are pristine and don’t have flashy hotels lining along the coastline. The villages that line the coast are old as time, Roman ruins and small cathedrals from pre-Moorish invasions attest to the history the coast has seen and so little is known about.
Some of the ruins of old Roman temples from 1 AD are spectacular- the villages themselves are small, with narrow lane ways and lime washed bricks.

The old fort in Zadar has now been converted to bustling night time focal point for tourists, with ruins, shops, restaurants and street markets and the amazing sea organ and salute to the sun feature at the foreshore.

The sunset in Zadar is mindbogglingly amazing, get to the bridge or foreshore early and set up the camera!!

Photos from Day 8, 9 &10 – Croatia