We left our hotel at 8:30 am, heading south to Zadar, where we will board La Perla, late this afternoon. We passed through a lush countryside dotted with tiny villages and churches, and farms. Stefan briefed us on our schedule for the next few days. He recounted stories of some Croatian inventors; the pen, the torpedo, and the parachute are Croatian inventions. He acquainted us with some highly regarded Croatian sports figures in soccer, basketball, water polo, rowing, and tennis. Sports are not related or affiliated with universities here; they are generally a function of local or municipal sports clubs.Â
Weddings here are big, often including 200 to 300 guests, including extended family. Usually, the event is planned in the groomâ€™s village. On wedding day, the groom with his family goes to brideâ€™s home, where the groom asks for the brideâ€™s hand in marriage from the brideâ€™s father. Then they all go to where the ceremony will be performed. In some areas Church is chosen as primary venue, but a civil ceremony is a must for the marriage to be recognized. The reception is usually held at a hotel, the only places large enough to accommodate a crowd of that size.Â The groomâ€™s family usually picks up the tab.Â Gifts used to be given to the young couple, but now the gift is usually envelope with money.
As we approached the mountains called the St. Roc, or Wall, we passed by the little village of Smiljan, where Nikola Tesla was born in 1856. It is a small village, and they have erected a billboard along the high speed road with a photo of him and proclaiming that he was born here!
We went through a six kilometer tunnel through the mountains and burst out the other side onto the Dalmatian coast, where the landscape is pure limestone with bushes on top. The aura or north wind brings cold weather; the south wind brings warm but wet weather.
We lunched at Zadar Jadera in Zadar before our walking tour of Zadar. Lunch started with marinated sardines with shrimp, local tuna steak with polenta and tomato sauce, and for dessert cream cake! Of course, accompanied by local wine.
Our guide for our walking tour was Tamara, who pointed out the sites and history of the area. The area was fairly quiet since it was Sunday but the sun felt great! The remains of the Roman era forum served as the foundation of many of the buildings. The forum had been the center of public life in ancient times. Zadar suffered much damage during the bombing of WWII. And this area is hodgepodge of ruins.
Just off the old forum is the Church of St Donat, a cylindrical church built in the 9th century. It has not been used as a church for several centuries, having served as a warehouse and museum. It is now used for concerts with its remarkable acoustics.
The Bell Tower of the Cathedral of St Anastasia is nearby, the cathedral itself has a pink exterior. It was founded by the Byzantines in the 9th century and was rebuilt in Romanesque style in the 12th to 13th centuries.
There is a large column, called the pillar of shame, where thieves and other miscreants were tied and exposed to abuse by the people of Zadar. Along the seaboard, Zadar has a Sea Organ, a musical instrument controlled and operated by nature. Nikola Basic designed the Sea Organ, where the white steps quayside produce musical chords as the waves push air up through tubes. Variations in waves and wind produce variations in the tones that are emitted.
Nearby is the Greeting to the Sun, set on the seaside it consists of 300 solar collectors which absorb sunlight by day, then release light patterns at night in a multicolored display like a disco scene. There was also a sea organ, pipes are placed in the sea wall and air escapes from the promenade and create a musical sound.
We met the group at 3:30 and boarded La Perla, our home for the next 7 nights. After we were escorted to our cabins, we endured a safety briefing and met the crew. Shortly, we left the harbor for our next destination. Under sail, at 7PM, we had dinner of Seafood Ceviche, Cauliflower Soup, Duck Breast or Sea Bass with Fondant Potato, Garden Peas Puree, and Butternut Espuma, Dessert was Chocolate Brownie with Chocolate Ice Cream.