Pozdrav Hrvatska (Hello Croatia)

Overlooking the Old Town of Šibenik and the waterfront

Overlooking the Old Town of Šibenik and the waterfront

One of the most interesting sensations I experience when coming into a new city for the first time is how new and different it looks from any other city I have seen.  My eyes try to take in as much as possible.  Are the streets straight or winding?  Is the town flat or hilly?  Are the buildings interesting to look at or quite plain?  Are there sidewalks, and if so are they wide or narrow?  Where do people shop, eat and stroll?  And perhaps most important, is it clean?  There is so much you can tell about a city based on these initial impressions.  For me, all of these questions lead to the ultimate question, would I want to live here?

St. James Cathedral sits on the largest plaza in the old town.

St. James Cathedral sits on the largest plaza in the old town.

When we first visited Šibenik, Croatia, I saw only the main streets.  It was hardly enough to make an impression.  I spent a whole day on a boat tour to Kornati National Park, a chain of islands twenty miles up the coast from Šibenik.   Florence stayed in town with our group and got the all day city tour.  She loved it so much that when the opportunity to live in Croatia presented itself, Florence proclaimed, ‘Let’s go to Šibenik!’  Since there are few places in Croatia that I would say no to, I said, ‘Okay.’

narrow-passage

Passageways winding through the old town are worn smooth from centuries of use.

There are many stairs leading up the hill of the old city.

There are many stairs leading up the hill of the old city.

Šibenik is different from any place we have lived.  The old city was pieced together over nearly 1,000 years.  What they call streets I would call passageways.  These passages wind and weave in a seemingly random way.  Some of them lead to a small plaza with shops and restaurants.  Others dead end at the steps of someone’s apartment building.  All of the buildings are three or four stories high.  There is no way to spot landmarks except to become familiar with the shops on any given passageway.

At the top of the hill is the largest cemetery in town.

At the top of the hill is the largest cemetery in town.

All the stairways and passages are paved with stones the size of cinder blocks.  They are all worn smooth and shiny from the footsteps of countless thousands of people over hundreds of years.  At first, I feel like a lab rat in a maze trying to figure out where I am and how to get back to my own apartment.  Then, something special happens.  The streets and passages no longer look strange and unfamiliar.  I begin to recognize an intersection, a café and a shop.  Now I know where to go when I need to purchase groceries or a gift. 

We found the ice cream shop in our new home town.

We found the ice cream shop in our new home town.

Šibenik is not a big city.  If I wanted, I could walk from one end of the old town to the other in about ten minutes.  However, I would never do that.  It is too beautiful and interesting.  All the strange new sights I remember from our first day in town now look familiar.  The comfort comes in getting to know someplace new.  I can only describe it by saying it feels good to be home.

 

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15 comments on “Pozdrav Hrvatska (Hello Croatia)

  1. dfrantz1953 says:

    I’m so glad your priorities are in order … finding ice cream! That is one of the things we look for in a new city!

  2. Sibenik sounds wonderful!! I so wish we could visit you guys there. Celeste 🙂

    • Mike Lince says:

      The feeling is mutual, Celeste. There will come a time when our paths will cross again. Even though I do not know when and where, I have no doubt it will happen. In the meantime our blogs and emails will keep us connected. 🙂 – Mike

  3. jhornmex says:

    Wow, what a surprise! You gave up Scotland early and moved already to Croatia!? The town looks beautiful but if you can cross it in ten minutes, will there be enough to hold your attention? Do you plan on six months or are you changing your plans? Sorry for all the questions. Perhaps I missed something. Good luck to you both.

    • Mike Lince says:

      Florence detailed our Scotland episode on her new blog, Reflections.

      The old town of Šibenik is fairly compact. However, the new city spreads out much further to take in the hotels, malls, theaters and surrounding neighborhoods. We plan to see as much of what we missed during our September Discover Croatia tour, places like Rijecka, Istria, and some of the nearby islands we did not visit. We are rounding out this six month period with three months in Croatia. We are then heading to Spain in January as originally planned. Scotland was so expensive that we could not afford to take all the excursions we wanted, like a visit to the Orkney Islands. Croatia is much more affordable. Thanks for asking and for staying in touch, Jim. – Mike

  4. reocochran says:

    I am very happy when you tell us the details that make the town “come alive” and when you mention what makes it feel “like home,” that makes me happy for you both! This is a lovely place, with so much history! I cannot believe it is over 1000 years old! That is amazing. Seeing the smiles and ice cream in your hands, makes me smile back at the computer screen. Wonder if the people on either side of me at this library, notice? Take care and keep those interesting stories and history of places coming…

    • Mike Lince says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Robin. It is quite different to live in a place with history dating back to the Roman Empire. The Romans were excellent bookkeepers and historians. Their records show one of the Roman Legions was based just a few miles up the Krka River from here. The Krka River meets the sea at Šibenik. There are also two medieval fortresses overlooking the old city, one of which is being renovated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, St. Michael’s Castle. The photograph of the cemetery was taken there. I obviously have more to write about Croatia! 🙂 – Mike

      • reocochran says:

        I always like it when you add more history and facts, Mike! The renovation of the castle into a UNESCO site is very interesting and teh fact that there is another medieval fortress to see there is awesome too. I think that the cemetary made a great photograph, Florence!

  5. I had to say it, but I am loving Croatia so much more! LOVE it. Ice cream is just icing… or something like that. 😉

    • Mike Lince says:

      Indeed, ice cream seemed an appropriate way to give this chapter of our story a happy ending. Soon we are off to explore more islands and cities including Medjugorje in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, where I hope to learn if there is substance to the many reported sightings of apparitions of the Virgin Mary. – Mike

  6. Welcome home Mike and Florence – you look so happy! And of course, ice cream doesn’t hurt. 🙂 Your description of the layout of a Croatian town is so perfect. I haven’t been to Šibenik (yet), but when we visited Dubrovnik I’d never experience a city laid out that way – except for trying to find my way in the Souk in Marrakech. Wishing you a great 3 months. I’ve been wondering, how do you pronounce Šibenik? ~Terri

    • Mike Lince says:

      Thank you, Terri. Now that we are comfortably settled in Šibenik (SHEE beh nick), we are ready to do some more exploring. I will contact you offline for your suggestions about Mostar and Sarajevo. Then we head to the interior region of Slavonia before doubling back to the north coast region of Istria. We also have some local islands to check out, too. – Mike

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