Monday, June 4, 2012

Road Trip, Part I: Sheba & the Russian Sailors

At the end of the week, I started going stir crazy here in Zadar. This led to a minor meltdown, followed by an impromptu road trip down the Dalmatian coast. A little spontaneity is good for the soul, right?

We picked up our rental on Thursday evening and immediately hit the road. We had no particular place in mind (ha!), but knew that it would be challenging to head west (due to the Adriatic) or east (Dinaric Alps), so flipped a kuna and went south.

Instead of taking the interstate, we opted for the scenic route along the coast, cruising through towns and villages along the way.

The coastal road, somewhere south of Zadar
Approaching the city of Šibenik
About 50 miles south of Zadar, we hit a city named Šibenik (she-ben-eek). While the outskirts of town were , shall we say, communist chic, we were pleasantly surprised by the lovely waterfront promenade. We arrived just in time to catch another beautiful sunset:

Sunset in Šibenik
As we walked along the promenade, I spotted an old church in the distance and exclaimed, "That dome over there, that must be Old Town!" We weren't really sure what to expect, but being a sucker for really old buildings and pedestrianized zones, I insisted that we must check it out.

 Šibenik promenade with the domed church in the distance
As we got closer to the church, we came upon a large group of Russian sailors (the sailboat type, not the Red October type). They looked like they were going somewhere interesting, so we followed them up a set of stairs, where we found this:

video

What a beautiful little square! (And what a sweet party spot for those Russian sailors!) We were thrilled to discover this hidden gem. Go team!

St Jakov's Church at sunset
The most magnificent sight was St Jakov's Church, constructed in the 15th century. It's made entirely of stone, with no wooden supports. We later learned that the cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As I criss-crossed the square snapping photos, I made a new friend:

My new friend, Sheba of Šibenik
While I am admittedly more of a dog person, this little kitty was undeniably cute. Her big green eyes watched with great curiosity as I fiddled with the settings on my digital camera.

As nightfall set in, Jim and I wandered around the narrow, winding streets of Old Town:

Street in Old Town Šibenik
We were as giddy as school kids, gleefully exploring the maze of nooks, crannies, and alleyways. Since there were very few people in the streets, it felt like we had an entire section of Disneyland ("Old World Town"?) all to ourselves.

I'm going to leave you with my favorite photo from Šibenik, taken in the garden of the St. Lovre monastery:

Garden at the St Lovre monastery
The beauty of the manicured gardens, historic buildings, and twilight moon took my breath away. What a magical moment!