The cold waters of the Adriatic Sea washed my feet as I sat on the wide cement stairs built along the shore. Crowds swelled. People spoke in hushed tones. The sun was midway through its evening performance. The sky turned crimson, yellow and orange in layers. I clicked several pictures till I decided to register the scene in my mind rather than in the camera. The sound of the waves crashing on the steps combined with the gentle metallic sound of the sea organ to produce a soporific effect. I closed my eyes and the sounds transported me to another realm. The bright red, orange and yellow hues of the setting sun danced before my closed eyelids tempting me to open them.
Was it a dream? No, I was in Zadar – on the Dalmatian coast in Croatia.
Nikola Basic is the creator of Zadar’s two most popular wonders – the sea organ and Greetings to the Sun. Several holes drilled into marble links thirty five organ pipes beneath the waves. These produce random sounds based on the ebb and flow of the water, which is soothing for a while. When it begins to get monotonous, simply move to the Greetings to the Sun.
Greetings to the Sun is a circular pattern on the floor depicting the solar system illuminated by photovoltaic cells in random but captivating colours and patterns as the sun moves across the sky. The place was packed with tourists from different parts of the world. I even met an Indian couple here! Children were overawed by the brilliance of the lights shining on the floor. Cameras of all sizes and shapes were out on display, selfies were taken and to say there was a festive air would be an understatement.
After an hour or so spent here, I walked to Stomorica, the town’s bubbling region of pubs and cafes, eager to try Zadar’s most famous liquer called Maraska made from maraschino cherries. Wines and liquers are not meant merely for drinking. They are to be savoured even while in the bottle. Maraska is poured out of bottles encased in hand-woven reed. Everything about wines and liquers here is about aesthetics. The bottles, the aromas, the pouring style, the glasses in which they are served – all contribute to a total sensory experience. I rolled the Maraska on my tongue and relished its sweet and sour flavour spiced with cinnamon that tickled my taste buds much to the delight of the achingly handsome waiter at Zadar’s well-known pub, Bar Rio.
Zadar has it fair share of ancient buildings, walls, cathedrals and monuments. Once the largest city fortress, Zadar is unique in that the impregnable walls made it a city that the Turks could never capture. But soon, the Maraska hit! A light head spin and a euphoria made me head to my apartment in the bustling city center where 2 am is the closing time for bars! My apartment host was kind enough to provide ear plugs. Tucking myself into bed, I fell into a deep slumber with the colours of the sky and the sea swirling before my eyes.