Birthdays in London have not been that great for me if I’m honest – I used to really love birthdays. In fact growing up I basically had a party every year right up until my 18th. But now that I am firmly entrenched in adulthood and looking at a life that today looks completely foreign to what my life looked like 10 years ago – its just not the same as it used to be. But I guess this is one of the downsides of travel and living abroad, you make plenty of friends along the way (often fellow travelers) who have a tendency to just up and leave to go and well..travel some more. This constant influx of friends coming and going coupled with my past habit of changing jobs semi frequently means that when my birthday does come around it’s just another reminder that I don’t really have very many close friends over here. Which is fine and I have accepted the fact that this is more of a loner stage of my life, I cope with this by throwing myself into work which zaps most of the energy I would’ve used being sociable.
Which brings me to the reason why I decided to up and leave for my 30th birthday rather than sit at home in rainy old London and sulk over how many Facebook friends would or wouldn't post on my wall.
Croatia has long been on my list of places to visit so when we found cheap flights (might I add cheaper than alot of train tickets within the UK) it was settled. We were going to chase the summer sun all the way to Croatia. Surely it was far enough from London that we could escape the Jeopardy which is London in the Summertime?
Our hearts sank when we landed in Pula airport which is in the north of Croatia. Not only was it overcast like London, but at this stage it seemed to be pouring with rain. I guess the only consolation was that it was decidedly warmer.
After a bit of a kerfuffle trying to sort out payment for our hire car (a sign of things to come) we were driving along the highway at about the speed of a grandma’s pace due to the increasingly heavy rainy overhead. I was leant forward in the drivers seat trying to make out the road in front of me all the while the radio blaring out a mashup of Croatian and Italian music as it struggled to find reception. The rain teetered off, then came back, then stopped again, then came back. Wait a minute I thought we had left London?
We were all tired and hungry as we had been up since 4am to catch a cheap flight over. After taking a few wrong turns as I was confused by the GPS we ended up pulling into a restaurant by the side of the road just outside of a small town. We ordered beers straight off confident that the establishment would take a card, we were then informed by the shy waitress who spoke little English that the nearest cash point was in the town about 200 metres down the road. So Roberto left in search of money to pay for our meal and after he was gone a while she inquired as to whether he drove down. Then sheepishly said she meant to say it was 2 kilometers away not 200 meters and that he will need a car. To which point I ran after Rob as we had no way of contacting him should he get lost – it also occurred to us that he didn’t know the name of the restaurant so how on earth would he be able to make his way back?
I found him straight away as he had started walking back as soon as he realized, and he and Carlos drove the car into town. The guys decided to order a 1.5 kilo burger each which was larger in diameter than my pizza, of course they didn’t finish it and the burger got wrapped up and sat in the back with me on the drive to Zadar, where there it would sit in the fridge for the two remaining days. The stench of that burger will forever remind me of Croatia now. It wasn’t a particularly unpleasant smell but the sheer amount of meat in those burgers smacked you right in the nostrils and managed to linger even after the burgers had been removed.
Luckily the sun decided to come out by the time we had finished lunch and Croatia began to show it’s true beauty. Beautiful lush forests, wildflowers (including lavender) grew everywhere on the sides of the road and were dotted with red poppy flowers. The fragrance was lovely as i hung my head out of the car window like a dog. The water on the coast sparkled in the sunlight and there were loads of beaches dotted along the drive some absolutely tiny, but with the clearest waters begging to be swam in. Unfortunately we had a deadline and so the coastline became glorious mountains and long tunnels reminiscent of Madeira.
When we finally arrived in Zadar we were greeted by a lovely German couple at our apartment who didn’t speak an awful lot of English (Running theme) but just kept repeating ‘Hello, you are welcome here’ we were delighted to find we had a sunny terrace that looked out across the ocean and an adjoining verandah with a table and chairs for our use also. Rob went downstairs to settle the bill with the owners and disappeared for quite some time. I found him drinking coffee and asking the Germans advice in broken English so they could understand on what to do in the area. I was treated to a pedicure by the owners friend that Rob bought for me, and drank coffee and ate homemade Burek. Which is basically a savory Turkish pastry. The sunset that evening was incredible, that night we dined in a nearby restaurant and then drove into town to go and hear the sea organ that I had heard about online and was anxious to go and see/hear. When we arrived we were disappointed when we didn’t hear anything – we weren’t the only ones either as we witnessed tourists going up to the holes in the cement and stamping on them in a futile attempt to hear something.
Below is what we were hoping to hear – it’s the only one of its kind in Europe. We’re not sure but maybe the sea has to be a certain way to make the music work as the water was no higher or lower than in the video below. We went back on three separate occasions and never heard a thing.