Croatia on the Road #2 – Flanking the Balkan Coast

Road Trip By Brian Norton |

When I started the story about my journey in Croatia, I left you wondering why we had to be in Zadar before the sunset, so let’s start from there, from the top of the Zadar’s must-see list: the Sea Organ and the Greeting to the Sun, aka the complementary sound and light effects of a beautiful sunset on the sea.

The Sea Organ is an organ played by lapping sea. We arrived there very tired, after 150 kilometres by car, and it was so soothing to just lie down on its big marble steps, meditating and enjoying the relaxing vibes underneath us. Concealed under these steps, in fact, there is a system of polyethylene tubes and a resonating cavity that turns the site into a large musical instrument, played by the wind and the sea. The outcome is a relaxing music, you can’t help but start breathing in and out the song of the sea, while the last sunshine of the day warms your face.

Then, when the sun is finally gone, everybody steps up and moves at the end of the quay few metres away, to attend the lightening of the Greeting to the Sun, which is an installation by the same architect who created the Sea Organ, Nikola Bašic. The Greeting to the Sun consists of three hundred multi-layer glass panels set on the same level as the quay paving, in the form of a circle having a diameter of 22 meters. The monument symbolizes the Sun, while the solar plates absorbs solar energy in daytime, transforming it into unusual light effects during the night. When the Sun goes down, the lighting fixtures built into the circle are activated, producing an impressive game of light to the rhythm of the waves and the sound of the Sea Organ.

Greeting to the Sun - Zadar, Croatia

Even if the Zadar quay was amazing and I could have lain there forever, it was time to eat something. We kindly asked our landlady for a where-you-would-go-eat-with-your-friends kind of place and she told us to go to a fish restaurant just at the exit of the city walls, upon the pier. Here we tasted the best of Dalmatian cuisine: thin slices of different kinds of raw fish, Dalmatian bruschetta, marinated seabass, fish tartare, fish soup, zucchini and prawns rolls…everything accompanied by a good Dalmatian white wine. Truly satisfied, we enjoyed a tour of Zadar by night walking by the Church of Saint Donat and across the town centre. The latter could seem an open-air shopping mall in the daylight, but during the night it gains back its ancient beauty.

Next morning, after a tasty breakfast with a greasy burek at the farmers’ market, we took the fabulous Balkan Road 27 to a little fishermen village named Tribunj. After a quick rest on the beach (the best beach in Tribunj is located beyond the town centre, on its left), we found a restaurant on a terrace – Pijero Restaurant – where I ate the best octopus salad ever!

Tribunj, Croatia

While leaving Tribunj we met the best travel-companion of the whole road trip: Road 8. From here on, we never parted. We went south along the whole Dalmatian coast, faithful to its rocks, its landscapes from Mediterranean to dry, its sun slowly landing on the sea, its bends, its wind, its reddish and yellowish vegetation, its smell of fish and fuel, saltiness and cattle, its rhythm, its character. But the best thing about Road 8 is that it allows you to fully admire the villages underneath you, and from this privileged panoramic viewpoint we opted for a coffee break in Brodalica, a village just in front of Krapanj‘s little island.

Unfortunately we didn’t have time to look for a way to reach the pretty little island, because we still had many kilometres to drive and we craved to lie for a couple of hours on a heaven on earth kind of beach. Again thanks to Road 8, we found our “heaven on beach” in Bilo, an almost deserted small inlet faced by two overgrown atolls. Here we just relaxed, reading a book and swimming until the sunset.

bilo2

And even if according to our original plan we were supposed to leave early in order to visit the Solin archaeological site, Bilo was so peaceful that we didn’t dare to leave until it was actually too late and we had to rush to our apartment in Split. But that’s another story…

Where is Zadar?

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Go to the previous chapter: Zagreb and Plitvice Lakes National Park

Go to the next chapter: Split, Brela and Dubrovnik

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