For the Love of Zadar, Croatia

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Greetings from Dubrovnik,

I’m the kind of gent who knows what he likes. If you wanted to buy a house you’d be smart to visit at least a hundred open houses before finally making the biggest purchase of your life. If you were going to get married, you’d be better off having sampled some fish from the sea before dedicating your life to the first one you pulled in, yes? Well when it comes to places to live, the more places you visit the more you’ll know what’s right for you when you find it, yes?! When I got to Zadar, Croatia that familiar feeling of I like you , I really like you and I might even love you came to mind…

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For starters, within 10 minutes of being in Zadar I started asking the lovely lady who was traveling with us on behalf of Croatia about apartments and such. You just know when you know and you know what?! It’s a great feeling. Zadar is a the center of Zadar County and the historic center of Dalmatia while we’re on the topic. Interesting enough, it’ also the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Zadar. I’m not going to fill your heads with any more history as it’s not why you come here and and as always, I prefer talking about recent events still mulling about in my mind.

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The streets are finely polished stone; it’s like that as they have probably been there forever and over time the millions of footsteps and countless droplets of rain have made them what they are today. It has an incredible seawall where kids and sailors alike jump off into the rough sea below. It has a sea organ which is something I’d like to see other places; basically it is these holes and when the tide is right it fills with water and the pressure blows  air through such said holes making all sorts of sounds. It was news to me and I’d be lying if I didn’t momentarily look around for someone playing an instrument; true story.

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Apart from that it just has a cool vibe to it and since it has Roman roots, lots of interesting and well preserved finds. Sadly, like many places it was destroyed in a terrible and unneeded war within recent history but lots is still there. The streets are lined with clever restaurants and the sunset is arguably one of the best I’ve ever seen. I was eating a delicious tuna steak on a bed of vegetables and I kept running back to get more shots; I thought I had seen it all until the sun got even crazier. It ended as a big red ball of awesome fading into the distance to bring on the darkness of night.

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Check this out, the place had a boom in tourism and nearly everyone and their aunts / uncles and third cousins a dozen times removed took out loans to renovate their city center homes for rent. As a result there is a surplus of wonderful apartments for rent in the old city walls without enough people to take them. I heard some ridiculously low nightly rentals on 4 bedroom apartments. If you’re going, get a hotel for the first night and ask around about apartments, you’ll be surprised. I might even live there for a month this summer; the thought has been dancing in my mind for quite some time.

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There is a garden, which I’ll call “The Garden of SHABL Perfection” which sits above the city. The grass is ever so green, as green as my morning greens supplement and it has a cool breeze from the sea which never stops. It has nice views of a courtyard below and chill out stations built for those who wish to stop and smell the roses. Sure, lots of places like this exist but what makes this special is the music and company. It’s got great electronic music that seems to never stop; mix that in with cool local Croatians and you have a winner. Can’t find photos but one below is  on edge of gardens and offers a great view; would probably sit there.

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I’m in Dubrovnik now in an apartment off the beaten path and loving it. That said, writing this makes me think how Zadar is where I’d base myself should I wish to live in Croatia as my Balkan base. Who knows really and only time will tell but before I go back to Zadar I’ve got further exploring in the region to do; if you’re not sure why just reread my opening paragraph and it will become clear.  As a result, I simply can’t just settle into Zadar even though if I took a magic 8 ball and gave it a great shake it would clearly say “All signs point to YES”.

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If you’re doing a road trip from Zagreb to Dubrovnik or the other way around, definitely include it. They have also just opened a lovely exhibit in the Archaeological Museum which is the second oldest in Croatia and one of the oldest in this part of the world. It’s all about Roman times and I got a sneak peak; if you’re in town you may wish to hit that up as well. Also don’t forget to slowly sip some delicious Croatian wines while watching the world go by at one of the many restaurants or cafes…

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FYI – I was invited to Croatia as part of a campaign that was created and sponsored by Croatian National Tourist Board in partnership with iambassador. That said, obviously all thoughts are my own as they always have been and always will be.

Tips hat,

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P.S: If you’ve got a sweet tooth, hit up Vitlov Choclates; delicious stuff and cool guy.

25 Comments

  1. Kirsten

    June 26, 2014 at 6:26 am

    I’m so glad you loved Zadar this much!!! That’s how I felt about it too. I never wanted to leave. Alas, I had to, and I can’t go back right now because I fell in love with a person who wants to stay in NYC…….. But always in the back of my head is Zadar and the haunting strains of the sea organ kicking off the stone walls in the old town. And the sunsets.

    Which, speaking of, are the best in the world according to Alfred Hitchcock.

    • Rob

      June 26, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      I heard that as well but wasn’t totally sure so I left it out; thanks for adding that factoid. I’m tempted to just go straight back but the show must go and south is the next stop.

      I want to go to the “Garden of SHABL Perfection” on a regular basis.

  2. Rav Food

    June 26, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Thanks for a great article about Zadar. We left Zadar a few days ago after 1 week holiday. We also went there last year. We love Zadar and I can say, that everything that you have written is true. I couldn´t have said it better my self. We plan to go there once a year.
    Love the Croatians and love Ryan air for selling us cheap tickets.

    Kind regards
    kathe/ Denmark

    PS We also visited the chocolatier and tasted his home made chocolate. That was awesome 🙂

    • Rob

      June 26, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      Glad to hear you have been and can relate to what I’m saying, more people should know about this place. I just met a Canadian couple in the harbour here in Dubrovnik and suggested the visit as they are lucky with lots of time left in Croatia but no real itinerary.

      Once a year sounds great; don’t forget that garden next time. 😉

  3. Ryan

    June 26, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    I’ve been thinking of spending a month or two there at some point. Probably next year though. I’ve had Zagreb on my mind for a while (love that city!) but you’re making me think I should check out Zadar now. Do you know what the going rate for a decent one bedroom is in the city?

    • Rob

      June 27, 2014 at 1:53 am

      I just sent an email to two new friends of mine there for an exact quote. I do know that 4 bedroom apartments in the core go for ~60E a night or so which is unreal. I’m assuming well under 500E for the month but will update here once I get the exact number.

      I might end up there in a month or so.

  4. Agness

    June 26, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    I’ve heard Croatia is so beautiful, backpackers-friendly and extremely affordable. You have just proven that! How many days would you recommend me to stay in Zadar?

    • Rob

      June 27, 2014 at 1:54 am

      It all depends on you; can see it in a day or so but enjoy it for a month or more if that makes sense… My advice is always to plan loosely and just go with the flow.

    • Ron Zelencich

      April 10, 2015 at 5:54 pm

      2 to 3 months.

  5. Katie

    June 26, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Great photos. Great article! I was living in Dubrovnik for awhile and never made it up to Zadar, now I know I will have to go back!
    -Katie
    http://www.worldwidevegetarian.com

    • Rob

      June 27, 2014 at 1:55 am

      Indeed you shall and Dubrovnik is beautiful; writing this comment from Gruz Harbour. One of those places that is easy to get “stuck” but in a good way.

  6. SJ @ Chasing the Donkey

    June 27, 2014 at 1:42 am

    Fab write up of my new home city! I wish I had known you guys were going to be in town, I would have cooked you a great home cooked Croatian meal in our village! Have a super time on the rest of your trip.

    • Rob

      June 27, 2014 at 1:56 am

      How lucky to be from such a beautiful part of the world. What a shame we didn’t meet up and if I do end up renting a spot in Zadar, I am most certainly going to take yo up on that offer! 😉

  7. Nancy Freeman

    June 27, 2014 at 9:31 am

    My husband and I bought a place in Zadar 14 years ago. We share your sentiment. There have been dramatic changes since the recent war….all for the better. Now I just have to find that chocolate!

  8. Nancy Freeman

    June 27, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    My husband and I bought a place in Zadar 14 years ago. You have captured the town well in this article. Old town has changed dramatically since we first saw it shortly after the recent war. Where is the chocolate man?

    • Rob

      June 28, 2014 at 8:20 am

      Thanks and not sure of the exact address but it’s in the center of town; simply ask around and I’m sure you’ll find it in no time.

  9. patrick

    June 28, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Rob,

    What a great tribute to a great city. The stones polished by millions of feet before me really stood out. I haven’t been back to Croatia in fourteen years, but Zadar was one of my favorite places. When you head back, take the fifteen minute drive to Pakostane and ferry to Vrgada. Nicest little island in the world… And a sunset that seems to last for half the day. You just won’t be able to leave.

    • Rob

      June 28, 2014 at 9:45 am

      Thanks and I will keep that in mind for next time.

      Speaking of next time, seems like it’s time for you to make another visit, good sir. 😉

  10. Jon Dunn

    August 3, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    You’ve echoed my thoughts (again) Rob. I was only there for a few days earlier this year, but was utterly captivated with the place. Managed a half day visit to the ancient city of Nin and a ferry over to Ugljan island, where I hired a scooter and went all over.

    Dubrovnik blew me away last year – Zadar trumped it this year and I can’t look at photos or read reviews without getting wanderlust and/or goosebumps!!
    Within range for day trips are Kornati National Park, Paklenica N.P., Plitvice, loads of islands such as Ugljan, Silba, Pag and so it goes on.
    And after a hectic day, a stroll through the old town of Zadar, with a gelato, watching the ‘Greeting to the Sun’ and listening to the ‘Sea Organ’ really is just about as good as it gets!! 🙂

    • Rob

      August 4, 2014 at 1:47 am

      Indeed and you are right sir, such a great place to visit.

      Hopefully I’ll be back in Croatia sooner or later. I liked all of the Balkans and now that I’m left, I’m curious why I left so soon…

  11. Loz

    September 11, 2014 at 1:04 am

    The more I read the more excited am getting…. Thanks for all you bloggers that let us share your experiences… We leave for Zadar in 3 weeks for a whole week of pleasure thanks once again

    • Rob

      September 11, 2014 at 2:00 am

      Pleasure and you’re going to have a great time, enjoy! 🙂

  12. Ron Zelencich

    April 10, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    You should stay 6 to 10 weeks. ,I’m thinking of doing the same starting in August

  13. Anna

    April 22, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Wow, it sounds like you really loved it. How long were you there in total? We’ve only allocated about a day and a bit, do you think that will be enough? We’re trying to get to much into 16 days, it’s really difficult to know where to spend the most time and where to cut back.

    • Rob

      April 24, 2015 at 2:08 am

      It will be sufficient and if you’re on a trip to see everything, then don’t worry about staying too long anywhere. You can always go back to the places you like. 1.5 days or 2.5 days all the same so keep to your schedule.

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