Zadar is a remarkable town with wonderful public places. The Forum is a public square which presents the Roman town layout with artifacts of its Roman ancestry. Columns and capitols sit on the paving, evoking the lives of people 2500 hundred years ago.
The alleys offer shade in the hot Croatian summer sun and the Trqs or Squares offer a sunny seat on winter days. There are gardens and small harbours just outside the old town which sits on a small elongated penisula.
Sadly after a few good days in Zadar, Lesley left us for better gelato in Ancona and a beautiful Umbrian Hill town, Gubbio, for truffle laden delicacies. Jealous much? We are already plotting to get Lesley back next year, such a excellent traveller and great friend.
Our crew size hasn’t diminished, Claire Frost has joined Mercier for a bit of island hopping. going south back down towards Dubrovnik. We will be visiting Murter, Brac and Hvar while Claire is with us.
We had a good evening in Biograd, which is fairly resorty. It has been stormy & raining in Murter but we are cozy in Marina Hramina, which is a very nice marina.
Happy Birthday to my cousin, Sandra Riner. Hope you have a lovely day!
We left Sali after a beautiful dawn and we thought we would go to Iz. No not Oz, IZ.
We thought we might get a swim in on our way and we sailed into a beautiful uninhabited bay, called Vodenjak. There are moorings, the water is so deep, but we can see the block of concrete and unchafed lines. Perfect. We have lunch and a swim and we read about Iz, which sounds very nice but Vodenak is perfect at the moment.
There are a few boats on moorings but many smaller boats are leaving, the perfect little bay is getting quieter and more wonderful by the minute. A quick vote, Vodenjak – 3, Iz – 0.
The water was clear. The clarity was such that you could see sea cucumbers inching around on the bottom 4 metres down. Lesley had brought some ingredients for Thai Green curry sauce, so we made a wonderful dinner and enjoyed the stars.
The next morning, we motored over to Zadar, through the Prolaz Veliz Drela passage. It was very calm and there was just a bit of current.
We sailed into Zadar and we were met by the ferries going in and out and by the traditional ferry man of Zadar.
Alex Crevar, in the NYTimes, has a great headliner, “After 2000 years, a Croatian Port Town Still Seduces” and he has some great facts. There are Roman ruins, the main being a large area called the Forum and various columns throughout the town, Zadar is home to the oldest university in Southeast Europe – over 600 hundred years old.
Probably the bit we enjoyed most was the Sea Organ and Salute to the Sun, both designed by Nikola Basic. Wikipedia describes the Sea Organ, as an architectural object located in Zadar, which uses the sea waves entering tubes underneath the large marble steps creating a musical instrument played by the wind and sea. The music was sonorous and clearly made children happy. Dogs weren’t as lucky, many dogs were clearly unhappy with some of the sounds.
While parents are happy to sit and stare off into a sunset, children aren’t always happy to be so still. With Basic’s Greetings to the Sun, children and adults were interacting with the sunset and then dancing on the photovoltaic solar modules with no need to stop moving.
More on Zadar tomorrow, Alex Crevar picked the right title, Zadar does still seduce.
It sounds like the weather is divine everywhere, but we have had a week of beautiful weather here, after only two days of rain last week. We are swimming every day, as the days are still warm but the nights are beautifully cool. Frosty and Louise, we try to convince Lesley that we melted on those hot August nights, she hardly believes us.
There was no shop in Mir and we were shy of a few things for dinner, including bread. However, no sooner had we finished our swim, the fruit and vegetable man came to visit us. Toni’s supermarket visits us just before we start dinner, so his timing is impeccable. It is a whole new meaning to ‘having the groceries delivered’.
We sailed the full scope of Luka Telascica, a large natural harbour at the Southern approach to Dugi Otok. We moored at Mir, very close to the entrance and we wanted to see the whole harbour so we went on a tour of the whole bay. We sailed past one island with wild donkeys, who became very alert when we yelled out “donkeys”!
To get to Sali, we had to go through a narrow passage between Dugi Otok and Otok Kornat. The Prolaz Proversa Velachannel is 2.2 metres at the shallowest point with an east going current. The Thompsons pilot book says never to be attempted in a bora which blows strongly here or a sirocco, which creates big seas.
We had a swim at a little island before lunch and then sailed into Sali. Lesley, James and I went for a swim again later in the afternoon, but there were a surfeit of black sea urchins (read stingy urchins), so I held back. James went back to Mercier. Lesley and I continued around a wonderul seaside path until we found a rocky beach with a handhold and no sea urchins. We were swimming and talking and the lady next to us asked where we were from. Her name is Marijan (spelling?), she was born in Sali but emigrated to the US with her parents in the late 60’s. Her parents have moved back to Sali. She lives in New Jersey and loves to visit them and swim here. We had a lovely chat, and she showed us the way over the hill into town, past her parent’s bouganvillea covered home.
On our travels we passed a tiny chapel, so beautiful dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary who looks after fisherman and we hope, sailors.
Sibenek (pronounced Shibenik) is noted as the first Croatian City, because it was founded by the Croats in the 10th Century. We left Trogir with a 4 hour sail in front of us. There would be a stop in Primosten for lunch and a swim. With the exception of a day near Hvar, we hadn’t seen so many boats sailing and motoring, as we saw between Trogir and Sibenek.
We moored stern to on the Sibenek town quay and went wandering around the medival city. As with many towns there are a large number of churches. We really related to the Cathedral of St James. It was beautiful, with a gorgeous statute of Micheal the Archangel over the entry. More remarkable are the 74 faces on the Apse, who are said to be the realisation of the common man but ‘My Croatia’ says were the collective faces of the 74 prominent Sibenik citizens who refused to contribute to the building fund.
Lesley, James and I climbed to the Monastery garden of St Lawrence, which was very lovely. A classic medieval parterre garden, with herbs and medicinal plants in the shape of a cross. It was beautiful and peaceful.
We walked through a cemetery to get to St Michael’s Fortress, we had followed a monk in brown robes, but he disappeared and we couldn’t see how he entered the Fortress – the Da Vinci code sprang to mind. Sibenek was heavily bombed in the 1991-95 war, but it is recovering.
We were up early for the short trip to Skradin, through the beautiful, narrow channel which winds up the River Krka. Much of this part of the river is covered in mussel and oyster farms. See the photo for an idea of Eating Local.
Arriving at Skradin, we were left without a doubt that we were in the right place.
There has been a change in Croatia; the weather is changeable and the crowds seem to be diminishing as well.
Its been busy, Milna was very quiet but enjoyable, but we were too lazy to blog. Split was busy and our friend, Lesley joined us for the next sector of Mercier’s Voyage.
In Milna, we stayed at Marina Vlaska which is at the mouth of the harbour going into Milna. There were several benefits to staying here. Great showers, beautiful swimming beach right around the corner ( there could be no swimming in Milna Bay, too dirty) and the Illyrian Restaurant, which along with Croatian food, did a great Thai Curry and Sate. We did walk into Milna town, with its great chill out bars, but Marina Vlaska was the place to be.
From here it was an easy trip up to Split, which was a busy town but not as busy as the week earlier. Italian schools went back on Monday and we haven’t heard nearly as many Italian accents since then.
We motored over to Stari Grad; it seemed quiet. The only sign of activity are the yachts moorning on the quay. It was midday and taciturn Stari Grad seems to go home for lunch. We walked along the bay in the heat. The town is scenic but the walk toward the ferry quay is enticing. We wandered towards the shade of a pine covered path, we witnessed picnics virtually in the water.
We found a very nice cafe, under fragrant pine trees, with great music. You could jump down a few stairs and go for a swim, come up and have a shower and sit back down to your piccolo latte.
About 4PM, the town came to life and you could see its vitality return and Stari Grad became vibrant. Children, dogs and their minders were walking up and down the handsome white stoned Novo Riva, with yachts in the center of small fishing boats and giant day tripper boats. Music coming from boats and the chatter of friends enliven the atmoshpere, hard to believe that it is the same town we landed in four hours earlier.
Up at the top towards the Trig Stepjana Radica, we walk along the bay towards the market.
At the market, all the fruit and many of the veggies are covered in bees. The stall holders are stoical and set up sacrificial watermelons, so the bees will leave everyone alone but we think it is just successful in attracting more bees. Bees come back to Mercier, drunk on grapes. We take the grapes outside and send the staggering bees home.
Last night, we met up with the crew of Sarayu, Dennis, Bosjana and Caroline, the five of us went to a lovely restaurant, Jurin Podrum in one of the alleys parallel to the Quay. We talked about passages and directions, it has been great catching up with other Aussies. We are sharing the same experiences, it’s a powerful tonic.
Frosty and Louise have left us for a small Greek island, with a bar that you can drink at while your feet are wading in the water. After over 500 miles on Mercier, from Malta to Montenegro, another 10 hour drive with Rad through Albania, and a short taxi ride at 160Km per hour to Lefkada, we think they deserve a nice quiet drink with Marg. But we miss them. If you go into photo gallery and click on Kotor, you will see a few more photos of our stay in Montenegro.
John Stephens must have heard the sighs coming from Mercier and realised the loss of our playmates was causing us a bit of ennui, so he invited us to a party on Saturday night- a James Bond party. Well actually a Misahara jewelry launch* Hmm, what to wear? 35 degrees and sunny even at 6:00PM.
Porto Montenegro is glamourous and there were quite a few amazing dresses on the tall, slim local beauties. The violin & guitar duo added an air of sophistication to the event.
Conversations abounded about cruising in the local area and in Croatia with Aussies John Stephens and PM Marina Director Tony Browne. They are the fonts of local knowledge about sailing in this area.
Then came Bond – James Bond, he plummeted off the pontoon into the bay for a high speed chase of the bad guys. That will teach them to spike his drink. Too many photos to add to the page, but click on Photo Gallery and then Bond.
We sailed through the confused seas off of Capo Santa Maria di Leuca, the point where the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic Sea meet. It was confused for several hours and not terribly comfortable.
The large yellow moon was so bright that the stars were very hard to see. Louise and I thought we would take photos. All the caveats for photography of night skies were broken – what good is a tripod on a lurching boat. We could barely keep the moon on the screen, our cameras turned into game consoles. We were giggling and shreiking as the red globe careened over the camera frame.
Midday the next day, we sailed into the Port of Bar, Montenegro. It is a very picturesque harbour and town, mountains coming down to meet the sea. The biggest activity seems to be a passeggiata at sunset, the whole town is out for a walk. During the afternoon it was very quiet but by night Bar comes alive.
Yesterday we left Bar and sailed northwest for a swim in Uvala Canj and then lunch. It was a beautiful spot for a swim and Mercier makes it easy to get off and on the boat. The water is very deep, so has a beautiful warm float on top of a very chilly pond of water.
Frosty’s towel must have blown off the rail and you could see it so clearly, he thought he would just be able to swim down and grab it. He realised once he hit the cold water and was no closer that it was 9 metres below us. That towel is Frosty’s gift to Montenegro.
After lunch we sailed a few more miles to the most photographed island in Montenegro, Sveti Stefan. Financed in the 15th Century by reclaiming loot from pirates, a family was able to buy the island, fortify it and build a church. In 1952, the whole island was converted to a luxury hotel. No cajoling could tempt James into leaving the boat, but the resort does look historic and luxurious at the same time.
We anchored off nearer to the swallow’s island and had a lovely barbeque. Along the way near U Canj, we came across two different rock formations abutting each other, this is a visual record between the Triassic-Jurassic Boundary. (Crne, Weissert, et all)
Finally, to John and Jenni, so sorry to hear about your bingle, glad you are safe and sound in Italy. Recuperate quickly, enjoy being pampered and then enjoy Italy.
Travelling is wonderful. Even the problems you encounter are part of the journey. In Malta, you meet some some great Boating Technicians. The Beneteau dealers here provide excellent service. If you have Dock and Go issues, ZF in Malta are the only dealers we have found to diagnose the problem and quickly get parts in to repair and get us up and running. We can highly recommend Malta if you need boat repairs and supplies. They are qualified, helpful and personable; they speak English, which is a wonderful aid to communication for we language poor only-English speaking Aussies.
When your friends visit, you can put them to work, Frosty and Louise arrived on Tuesday after 38 hours of travelling. Let us pamper you: a shower, a bit of fruit and an icy cold mineral water. Next we had out them walking on the boardwalk to wake them up and absorb the sunshine. Lunch overlooking Valetta Harbour and then back to the boat to get their feet up and adjust to the time difference.
On Thursday, there was no more molly coddling. A leak sprung up and let 300 litres of fresh water into the bilge. Frosty and James had to get to work, drain the bilge and then determine where the leak was. It was like a methodical engineering process, otherwise known in Aussie as “productive men’s shed session”. Amazingly, no advice was given, calm reigned and the leak was found (in the foot pump), fixed and hurrahs went up all round. We keep checking to see that there was just one leak, but all systems go. Thanks Frosty, welcome to your holiday.
Thursday afternoon, we were free to go to Mdina and did some sightseeing.
We then heard our friends from C’est La Vie were back and when we returned they were parked right next us. We got together and compared notes about where we had each been between our last visit. They loved Ragusa, so it’s now on our bucket list for the next trip.
Ed Earl, you were on our mind and there were a few times during the day we celebrated for you. Glad you had a wonderful birthday.