Saturday, October 10, 2009


The mood of the Dalmatian coast makes me think of it as an enormous Manly (a beach suburb of Sydney). Zadar has a calm, chilled vibe, quiet except that there is plenty of life. I always base myself in the old, historic centre of each place that I visit, but there are very few hotels in Zadar’s old town. My hotel was a half hour walk away. Most tourists here stay 3km away in the newer part of the city where there is plenty of accommodation. High season in Croatia is July and August, the northern summer, but October seems pretty low-key.

Zadar is a very youthful place; there is an abundance of people under 25. If this is representative of the Croation population, reflecting on the possible reason is disconcerting: the “ethnic cleansing” of the Homeland War, as the Croats call it, took place when they were all children. But there is a distinct feeling that that is history now, and the place feels ready to surge into the future with the youth at its helm.

The harbour is busy with ferries en route up and down the coast, and the marinas are filled with fishing trawlers, sailboats, and runabouts. The place is very genuine. Few of the yachts are as ostentatious as the showboats in Sydney’s Darling Harbour. I strolled along the peaceful waterfront at night back to my hotel, and quietly envied two skippers on cabin cruisers moored alongside each other, chatting over the gunwales and looking out to the moonlit Adriatic.

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