We're slowly heading south on the Adriatic coast, taking our time to see all of the small towns along the way. We really have to thank the Pula Girls, Iva and Tajana, for organizing our route, they were invaluable in pointing out stuff that's not on the "Top Ten Things To See in ******" lists on all the tourist brochures and websites.
Everytime we book into an apartment, we make sure to pick up some groceries along the way. We've been making our own meals a lot more since getting back to Europe, since it's cheaper. But Neda loves cooking so much, so it's a win-win situation.
As we get closer to our destination, I spy a grocery store ahead.
"Let's stop in that one", I radio to Neda.
"No. That's a Lidl. It's German."
Just a Lidl bit picky? I don't say this out loud. Instead, I just agree, "Ooookey..." A bit later on down the road: "How about this one?"
"No, Carrefour is French."
CaresNot for Carrefour. Got it. "Okay. How about that one over there?"
"I don't know where SPAR is from, but it's not Croatian. We're in Croatia now. We have to go to a Croatian grocery store!"
I get reminded that Neda is a Pula Girl too...
Far from being a nationalist, Neda just likes going to a grocer that carries all the brands that she's familiar with from her childhood. What we've discovered while traveling is that you don't have to eat at restaurants to get the local flavour. Sometimes it's enough just to shop at the neighbourhood grocery stores and see what ingredients and spices the locals use.
What makes it more special is that in Croatia, I have a personal Croatian chef using authentic Croatian ingredients! :)
Arriving at our apartment outside of Šibenik
As usual, we are staying in a neighbourhood outside of Šibenik (SHEE-ba-nik), just an hour away from Zadar. Yes, we are redefining Slow Travel. But the Adriatic is one of Neda's Bucket List trips, so we are savouring it. And the weather is co-operating beautifully!
Edit: Neda says, "Please do not send me fish for Christmas."
Neda gleefully unpacks her Croatian grocery goodies like a kid at Christmastime. She's making mackeral with blitva, a Croatian specialty!
There's a ceramic stove/fireplace on the right behind Neda. I thought this was an interesting-looking appliance. It's called a Kachelofen, and although I've seen it in a lot of Croatian houses, it's actually German in origin. It's a masonry heater - the fire inside heats up the bricks around it, which is then insulated by the ceramic tiles and it stays warm for quite a long time to continuously heat up the entire house. Cool. Er... Hot!
After lunch, we ride out to a little-known spot that the tourists don't know about
Rather than just visiting the historic centre of Šibenik, we are going to hike a little (just a little - I was promised!) on a trail that's known only to locals called Šetnica (SHET-Neet-Sa).
Parking the bikes. Across the St Ante canal you can see Šibenik
Trail starts off low, but quickly climbs to get a better view of the canal and the town across from the trail
It's not a long walk and the trail is beautifully paved and winds along the ridge of a hill
The terra-cotta rooftiles of Šibenik are so Mediterranean!
Something I always do when I pass by these tourist pay-telescopes is to have a quick peek through them
just to see if anyone has left some time on it. It's silly, I know.
To my surprise, this one was still working. I checked and it *was* a pay-telescope. Sweet! Free telescope-time!!! I'm so cheap. I put my iPhone up to the eyepiece and took a picture. Because in addition to free stuff, I also like taking pictures.
Bah, my zoom lens takes better pictures
The days are sooo long here. Late aftenoon and still plenty of daylight!
The trail is frequented mainly by local hikers and bicyclists.
It was only completed a couple of years ago, and I think the city would like more tourists to know about it, but I'm glad all the literature isn't up to date yet. I like being the only foreign tourist around. Kinda hypocritical, I know.
The trail is 4.5 kms long one way and terminates at the St. Nicholas Fort, but we're getting hungry and want to make it to the old town before sunset, so we turn around before we get to the end.
Heading back for food!
Parking the bikes in the old town
Saint James Cathedral (or Katedrala sv. Jakova in Croatia)
The historic centre is not one of the best along the Adriatic, there are grander ones towards the south in Dalmatia, but we're actually here on a mission.
Iva is an avid foodie and she asked us to review this restaurant for her
It's taken "Best Restaurant in Croatia" awards multiple years in a row and since Iva hasn't eaten here yet, she's asked us to see if it lived up to the hype. We haven't been to a fancy restaurant in forever, so it was fun getting all dressed up and fussed over by the wait staff.
The food was good, but I don't know if it's the Best Restaurant in Croatia. We've eaten at better places. So we'll have to send a Skip-It review back to Iva. And then it's back to home-prepped meals for us.
Watching the sun get lower in the sky. So much daylight here!!!
While we were walking around the old town, this guy stopped us and asked, "Are you Gene and Neda traveling around the world?"
"Uh yes?", we reply. Dino is a local scooter-rider and is into anything two-wheeled. He and his girlfriend saw us pull up into town and he immediately recognized us from our blog! Wow! We were very surprised. That's so unexpected! We talked about motorcycles and our trip for a while. He wanted to take a picture with us and of our bikes. We felt like celebrities! We always find it fun to talk about our travels with people.
On the way out of town, Dino snaps some riding shots of us
And when we get back home, I found this in my inbox! Hvala, Dino!
If you are wondering how I take all those pictures while riding, here's my secret!
Totally enjoying this lazy pace through the Adriatic!