August 19, 2012

Sheryl Sousa, Day 4 & 5: The beauty of Hvar and Zadar

August 17

On the 17th, we traveled to the Island of Hvar. We departed from the port of Split and traveled by ferry, two hours each way.  Not unlike the trip to Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard, it was a large enough ferry to carry our tour bus as well.  When we arrived on the island of Hvar, we boarded the bus again and were taken to Hvar town.  It is a resort town that boasts chic bars and restaurants, upscale hotels, loads of yachts and celebrity sightings.  

We took one group photo when we arrived, and then we all went our separate ways to discover the island.  The coast - and especially the beaches - are very different from what I’m used to on the east coast.  There was no sand.  The shoreline was rocky.  People lay their towels on the end of the rocky cliff and swim.  We were able to find a place to rent a couple of beach chairs and an umbrella that was more comfortable than laying on the rocks. Well worth every kuna spent.  

A group including Associate Athletic Director Tom Rand and a handful of alumni John Saucier, Terrill Hollins, Kenny Small and Joe Coppens chartered a boat to explore the island.  Their skipper, Nick, took them to a beautiful location were Joey and Sauce were able to cliff dive. It’s all captured on video, so when we get home you’ll have to ask to see the footage, and hear the screams.  

The weather has been absolutely beautiful.  Sunny and in the 90s.  The sun is hot, but the air isn’t humid, so in the shade it is very pleasant indeed.  

August 18

On the morning of the 18th, we packed up from our hotel in Split and boarded the bus for Zadar, taking a the scenic drive along the coast. Our hotel in Zadar is more classic European in style. The rooms are much smaller and modest than our hotel in Spilt.  But the rooms overlook the Adriatic Sea for a spectacular view of the crystal clear blue water.  

Zadar is one of the largest cities in the Dalmatian region.  According to the guide books “the town has real soul – likely derived from all the hardships it has faced over the years”, having been bombed during World War II and held under siege during the homeland war.  Some architecture dates backs to the Romans, and then it is mixed in with Austro-Hungarian influences. Zadar is much more what I expected of Croatia than what we saw in Split.  Split was a more modern city: busy and metropolitan.  Zadar, on the coast, is more charming: the pace is very relaxed.  The downtown area, with lots of shops, narrow streets, old buildings and a lively social life, is what I imagined heading into this trip. 

Last night we went into the downtown area to witness a very cool art installation that the town is known for – “sun salutation” and the “sea organ”.  The sun salutation is a large circle in the public pavilion with cells that are powered by solar energy.  They heat up during the day, and at nightfall, burst into colors.  It looks like a large disco dance floor.  The sea organ is a large musical instrument built into the sea wall such that when the sea ebbs and flows, the water creates a musical melody.  

Zadar is a charming city and I’m looking forward to spending the next couple of days here.  

Sheryl