We moved down to Pakostane which is a very small coastal town midway between Sibenik and Zadar. Camping Kozarica is a very upmarket ACSI site and when we arrived they suggested we have a walk all around the campsite and we could choose any available pitch. We walked right down to the seas edge and chose a pitch right on the coastline. Along with beautiful birdsong we had the constant, gentle noise of the waves lapping against the rocks in front of us as the background noise. We could quite see that Pakostane is a very popular holiday destination in the summer months because there are lots of nice looking beach front bars and restaurants but it was quite quiet whilst we were there. There are lots of boats for hire of all different sizes from jet skis to large motor launches. We did see schoolchildren all wearing life jackets waiting around a boat hire office. Later on we saw them in lots of small sail boats going back and forth whilst someone did lots of shouting at them from a motorboat that circled around them constantly. It made for a very colourful scene.
We caught the local bus into Zadar the next morning. Zadar is the 5th largest city in Croatia and the 21 mile journey took about ¾ of an hour. The bus station is right on the outskirts of the city so it was quite a walk to get to the old city centre. When we got down to the Most Bridge which crosses the Jazine between the old city an d the modern thriving city we entered the walls through a small, very old looking, city gate.
There are a lot of ancient things to see around the city and the Romans were here in the first century BC.
Unfortunately, all we saw were bits of Roman buildings and cleverly some old ruins were on show under some thick glass that you could walk over in the middle of an old square. This city has been ruled by Venice for almost 4 centuries and it was under them that the city was transformed into a powerful, Venetian fortress. Since then it has been ruled by the Romans, the Italians, the Austrians and then under Napoleon’s strict rule. So the architecture is quite mixed and before the Second World War the Italians ran the city and it suffered catastrophic damage because of constant bombing from the Allies. Even so there were lots of places to see that were of great interest.
The old gates around the city walls were fascinating especially the “Kopnena Vrata” (The Land Gate). Just around the corner from there is quite and ornamental garden that was supposed to have an ancient piece of Roman architecture at the top of it according to the tourist map. So up we went. We got to top and there was nothing there. There wasn’t even a decent view, because of all the trees that were growing in the garden. After that things got much better.
We made our way to the cathedral and while Elaine sat on an upturned Roman stone pillar I climbed to the top of the cathedral tower and got some great photos of the impressive set of bells near the top of the tower.
Right at the top the views were well worth the energy I had used getting up there. I think I must be fairly fit as I got to the top quite easily in comparison to the others I met going up and down who were all puffing and panting. One young chap said he was never going to pay to go up another tower unless there had been a lift installed.
We walked along the sea side promenade to the far end of the city then went into the Franciscan Monastry. The cloisters were a little disappointing until I spotted a lot of tortoises roaming around the central garden.
I used to have one as a pet when I was a child and I haven’t seen any of these little chaps since. The St Francis’s church that was attached to the Monastery was quite interesting but now we were churched out so we headed off to find a restaurant for a midday meal.
We explored the narrow streets and found most of the landmarks we were looking for. We then headed back to the bus station but instead of catching the slow local bus back to the campsite, we caught the express Zagreb to Split coach and travelled back in style all the way down the main roads. We got back in no time. Later that evening there was quite a decent sunset which was the best one I had seen for quite a while.
We were the only English on the campsite itself but the Dutchman from the caravan next to us had some interesting travel suggestions and we did get to talk to another Dutch chap who was hobbling towards his caravan. He had dirty knees, scratches and cuts on his hands and he was carrying his fold up bicycle in two separate pieces. It had collapsed whilst he was riding back throwing him to the ground. I offered to carry the broken bike for him but he refused my offer.
13th-14th May……. Trogir
We drove 60 miles and some of this was over quite windy roads that took us over some mountains and in some places the views were outstanding. The last few miles were really spectacular as the road was cut all along the side of a mountain. You could see Trogir and the sea way below us which would have made a spectacular photograph but the two stopping places we passed were both on the other side of the road and it was too dangerous to cross the carriageway. Further down the road we did a sharp turn back on itself for the last part of the descent but now there were no stopping places and that spectacular view had gone anyway. Once we got into town we suddenly hit very slow traffic.
We passed an old castle and lots of interesting looking buildings and an old gate going through the city walls. We had to cross over a narrow bridge to get onto the Island of Ciovo and just before we took the turn there was a thriving looking fruit and vegetable market. Everywhere we could see large groups of tourists following umbrella wielding guides and we knew, even as we sat in the slow moving traffic that we had come to a fascinating place.
Just under two miles down the road we came to our campsite and we parked up with a nice view of the sea and despite the many trees on the site we managed to find a spot where our motorhome was bathed in sunlight for most of the day instead of in deep shade. We didn’t even wait for the bus. We were soon walking back up the road so we could enjoy the town. Wow!!!!! Elaine and I have visited some incredible places on our tours over the last two years. I do not think I have said wow so many times about a place that covers, relatively, such a small area. I am now finding it difficult to find different superlatives to describe this wonderful place.
Along the water front are lots of fabulous old buildings and all along the water’s edge there were wooden, high masted, small cruise ships designed for island hopping and they all had lots of luggage piled up on the dock waiting for the next embarkation. We have looked into some of these cruises and here in Trogir and in Split are popular centres for travelling around the many Croatian Islands.
In 1997 Trogir was put on the UNESCO Register of world cultural heritage. The cathedral is beyond description.
The carvings on the on the portal shows the birth of Christ and the journey of the three kings in such intricate detail. Inside the cathedral is the chapel of Blessed John of Trogir, XVth century. My fascination for places like this is for the exquisite artwork and not for any religious connotations.
The ceiling has the head and shoulders of a man coming out of the roof of this chapel. The carvings have such detail. How on earth was this all done all that time ago. There can surely be no art produced today that comes anywhere near what we were seeing here. I have climbed lots of church and cathedral towers over the years but the climb up this tower to get the view over the city was the most arduous and difficult ever. In the health and safety culture of the UK this climb would never be allowed. The first part was fine and it gave you the view of the St John’s Square with all its magnificent buildings. The next part of the climb was up narrow steps and then the climb became more difficult. Up a narrow set of metal steps to a stone slab that was supported by nothing. Then up again to the next unsupported slab and so on. Look down and all you could see was the stone floor a long way down. The last short climb was the worst of all. The climb was up an almost upright set of metal steps and then through the smallest of square entrances to get to the narrow passage around the top of the tower. The view was magnificent over the roofs of this ancient city.Down at ground level we went off for lunch in a lovely restaurant in a very narrow street just behind the cathedral and then started to wander around the narrow streets and every turn of a corner brought us to another sight to wonder at.
We went to another set of cloisters at the church and monastery of St Dominic X111 century which we had to enter through what looked like a shop selling tourist type goods. The presentation here was all wrong! There were all sorts of bits of broken statues perched on the cloister garden walls in amoungst some old cupboards and bits old wood.There was a really odd atmosphere in the church itself which we both felt was a really creepy place to visit. Everything was dank and dark but downstairs were the vaults showing in cabinets all around the large room all the treasures of the monastery.
Despite all the signs saying that no photography was allowed, I couldn’t resist photographing the wealth behind such a poorly kept building. Back at ground level in the cloister gardens there were lime trees and, under them were tortoises and some of the babies were only as big as the circumference of a tea cup.
The narrow streets of the town, the perfect way everything is kept, the neatness and cleanliness everywhere and all the fascinating squares and old buildings make this a must place to visit if you are ever in Croatia. The many tourist parties going around the town just go to prove what a popular tourist attraction Trogir is and in the sunshine, as we had that day, there is not a finer place to go.