It always pays to listen to the locals. I was wandering around the harbour of Moscenicka Draga early in the morning to get some photographs of this appealing little fishing village, where we were staying before driving down the Adriatic Coast. It was so serene and although I was looking forward to our journey to Split, I wished that we could have stayed here longer to enjoy the idyllic peace. I came across an elderly fisherman and his wife who were preparing to go out fishing as they were baiting their hooks.
His wife was meticulously cutting the bait as he (he did introduce himself but his name was unpronounceable to me) baited the hooks and very neatly plied the line around an open box and slotted the baited hooks into a groove on the outside. It appeared tedious and time-consuming work but it was neat and appeared to be tangle-free. He explained to me that he had been fishing for over fifty years and now the catch was very small and he had to travel further afield (or should that be “further asea”). He chattered away while he concentrated on the job at hand, baiting numerous hooks. He told me that I should visit the island of Krk, it was easy to get there he explained, as there was now a bridge that connected the island to the mainland. I asked him about Karlobag, as I had thought about staying there, he thought I was nuts, and told me there was nothing to see or do there. He also advised me not to stay in Split and that it was much nicer at Trogir, which was nearby. His wife was from Trogir and he told me it was a small, old town, which he maintained was more pleasant than Dubrovnik, our favourite walled city. He was surprised that we were leaving Moscenicka Draga after breakfast, as we had not seen the Istria Peninsula. I thanked him for his advice and wished him good luck on his fishing trip.
As I wandered along the jetties and along the beach I contemplated the fisherman’s advice. Trogir, well his wife came from there and he had relived with me his enjoyable courting days there so naturally he would like the place. Well worth some more thought before we reach there in two days time.
Over breakfast Farida and I studied the map and decided to take the fisherman’s advice and visit Krk Island, look at Trogir before going to Split and we booked another two nights at our Moscenicka Draga hotel on our way back to Vienna from Split so that we could explore the Istria Peninsula.
We drove along the coast through Rijeka and to the bridge to get from the mainland to Krk Island. We then drove to the southern part of the island to Krk town, which is a charming old fishing town set in a small bay. After coffee on the waterfront we drove back to the mainland and down towards Karlobag. Farida, like the fisherman from Moscenicka Draga could not understand why I had this obsession with Karlobag. I had seen some photographs on the Internet and I was impressed with this appealing fishing village. However, as we arrived the weather had clouded over and it had begun to rain, not a good start. To be honest Karlobag appeared to be quite bleak and deserted, it was nothing like the photographs I had seen and naturally I was disappointed. Anyhow Karlobag did have a memorable recollection to recall in our travels, at a small café we had the most outstanding grilled octopus in a garlic, parsley and olive oil sauce.
We continued south along the coast with numerable photography stops and as we neared Zadar darkness was descending so we decided to stop overnight. Zadar was a depressing town with expensive hotels and a small number of reminders of the Balkan war, which to be fair-minded to Zadar the war did last up to 1995. They are getting back on their feet and I am certain that with its Roman heritage and old town the tourists will be returning.
The following day we continued our journey crossing the spectacular Sibenik bridge and onto Sibenik village. Whilst in the village we went into the Tourist office and we were told the same information as the fisherman had suggested to me, that it is better to stay in Trogir than Split. Now that we had two different people with his or her own views, we stopped at Trogir and it was as the fisherman and tourist officer had described to us. A 4,000 year-old enchanting island town with a population of only 3,000, this UNESCO World Heritage town has Venetian mansions, Renaissance Palaces and medieval narrow lanes surrounded by fortifications. The locals call it, “the town museum” and how right they are as around every corner another historical wonder appeared before us.
It pays to listen to others, especially the locals, they will not always be right but when they are we are the ones who benefit. However, all the time I was in Dalmatia I did not see one Dalmatian dog.