|We left the national park early and drove towards the seaside town of Zadar. We were listening to a Croatian pop music station on the way there. Croatian pop/rock music is really not bad. I figure a Croatian pop star is one funny/stupid viral video away from becoming an international superstar. It's entirely possible that the next "Gangnam Style" or "What Does the Fox Say" could come from Croatia. If you don't believe me, here's a sample. It's called "Hladno Pivo" ("Cold Beer") by a band called Fotoaparat.
We arrived in Zadar and after finding a place to park, we walked towards the Sea Organ. The Sea Organ is sort of makeshift "musical instrument" that the City of Zadar has installed in the waterfront sidewalk. Every time a wave (they are small - this is the Adriatic Sea, not the Atlantic Ocean) goes underneath the pavement, it forces air through the "Organ", which produces a semi-musical noise. As far as I know, there is nothing like this anywhere else in the world, and if the idea was to attract tourists to Zadar who were curious about it, they have surely succeeded. The locals seemed to like it as well. Men and women of all ages were laying on the concrete, sunbathing.
What was more impressive to me, however, was the Adriatic Sea itself. The sea was calm, and clearer than any other natural body of water I've ever seen. We could see schools of fish swimming several feet down.
Because this isn't the USA, where the overriding consideration for every single public policy decision is protecting stupid from themselves even if it means ruining life for everyone else, there are no guard rails or fences on the sidewalk to stop you from falling into the Adriatic, or jumping in for a swim, which is what a lot of people were doing. Who could blame them? It's incredibly hot out. The water is perfect. It's the clearest water you'll ever see. The water is deep enough to just jump in and swim around in. There's no sand to get in your swimsuit (or in my case, the folds of body fat)...
I decided I had to jump in. I didn't care that I didn't have my swimsuit with me, or a towel. I had shorts on, and with the hot summer sun beating down, I would dry in no time after getting out. So maybe my underwear would be a little soggy on the drive to Split. What's a little soggy underwear when you can swim in the nicest water perhaps in the world? The Adriatic Sea practically begs you to jump in, and I who was I to refuse?
(For some reason, I can't download the video from Facebook on to my iPad to be able to repost here. You'll have to find it on my Facebook page)
So, as you can see from the video, I did it. And it was wonderful.
We arrived in Split in the middle afternoon, and it was relentlessly hot. In the 90s. The owner of apartment reminded me that least year during the summer, Split got into the 100s.
What is Split like (besides hot)? Try to imagine a city that combines Rome, Monte Carlo, and Tijuana, and you'll get a pretty good idea of Split. Like Monte Carlo, It is a city on the water, with a stunning waterfront lined with restaurants, gelato stands, and lots of people. How is it like Rome? Because the city on the waterfront has been built in and around the partially restored ruins of a Roman Emperor's palace. (Diocletian, to be precise) The new concrete (brick) construction has given the City a very Roman feel, with narrow alleys and corridors and cobblestoned streets leading to small public squares. Old ladies still hang their laundry on clothes lines that run from building to building.
Why is it like Tijuana? Because the economy of this town is derived 100% from the tourist trade. It's crammed with people from the early morning until late at night (in fact, in seems even more crowded at night), and they are there to eat, drink, and party. (Mostly drink and party). The streets outside the Palace area are also lined with merchants selling their Croatia-themed tchotchkes to the tourists. It's also a major cruise ship port.
In short, it is a crazy crazy place. Today we got a taste of it, but tomorrow, we'll be taking a walking tour.