I didn’t go to Hvar. A day trip would not have been enough. I moved my plans forward instead and headed to Zadar. I had heard it was a pretty town and that the sunset viewed from there was meant to be particularly stunning. Alfred Hitchcock and Hemingway had apparently also felt this.
Zadar is a small, pretty town, as I had been told. There wasn’t much to see there apart from wandering the streets and walking by the sea. Some of the buildings are pleasant and the view from the tower is worth a look but really it is the sea and the sunset that is Zadar’s big attraction. The water is a beautiful blue, changing hues depending on the daylight, but with every colour picturesque in its own way. In the late afternoon the sun beat down and the sea was light and full of reflections. Nearby, the ‘Sea Organ’ is a set of pipes built into the stone on the edge so that as the waves hit it, it plays its own musical notes. It is a captivating idea.
The Monument to the Sun is a circle made of solar cells and includes lights so that as dusk falls, it provides a modest light show. Reading up about it now, the Monument to the Sun is to symbolise a communication with light, whilst the Organ is to symbolise a connection with sound. It was by these two installations honouring nature that I meandered and sat, stood and idled, along with many others as we too honoured nature as the evening fell; as the sun set. It was strikingly beautiful even though I felt like it has been better, and could have been better, but it was still stunning. The colours from a light orange through to a deep amber and the sky darkening to an inky blue, an inky blue that would project on to the sea was how the evening of August 31st drew to a close.
Overnight there had been heavy rain. The street was wet in the morning and it began to rain lightly as I walked to the bus station although this eased off shortly after. The bus ride north to Zagreb gradually saw rainfall, and this increased the nearer I got to the capital. When I arrived it was heavy and the temperature had dropped. I arrived at the hostel wet. As I prepared to go out and explore the city I made a choice I hadn’t made for a long time, and for perhaps the first time on my travels. I would wear my fleece. It was a little chilly.
Zagreb is mainly split between an Upper Town and Lower Town, although there has been modern expansion around this, but these two areas are the older areas and where the main attractions are. Walking around the streets I felt like it reminded me a little of some of Munich’s streets mixed with Budapest’s. Some research whilst writing tells me it is known for its 18th and 19th century Austro-Hungarian architecture so I feel like I was mostly right. Zagreb doesn’t feel grand in the way Vienna does, or in a way you feel Budapest could have, but it does noticeably have some of the same aspects. It does have a grand theatre/opera house, it does have some pretty streets, and it does have trams that buzz down them.
The Cathedral is a notable landmark and worth a look inside, especially since it is free to go in. The stained glass windows are particularly pleasant and channel the autumnal light into the dark interior. St Mark’s Church is only a little way from the Cathedral and has a remarkably pretty roof that is really worth seeing. This Church is in a quaint square on a modest incline in the city that means that from nearby you can get a view over the Upper Town.
By the church are several museums but the one that excited my interest was ‘The Museum of Broken Relationships’ which is a mesmerising collection of donated personal items, each accompanied by a story of a lost love, or a failed relationship, a liar, a cheater, a marriage that is no more, and even of fractured maternal and paternal relationships. There are some fairly light-hearted stories of short relationships that were never meant to be and there are also many heart-breaking, moving stories. It is a Museum that is best visited in a sombre mood, for it will leave you that way anyway. I spent about two hours there, and it is only a small museum.
The leaves in Zagreb’s parks have become browned and fallen; there is a wind in the air, and the constant threat of rain. Yesterday it poured down. Today it has so far held off. What a contrast to a week ago.