KANE on Tour #2 - Croatia

KANE on Tour #2 - Croatia
For this month’s feature of KANE on Tour we travelled to Croatia – land of crystal waters, picture perfect pebble beaches, and quaint historic coastal towns. Our first time in the country, we spent a week driving along the coastline from one beautiful city to the next. All the while, our Silver Steel Mesh casually hung out the window sparkling brightly on the driver’s wrist. Hands up, sunray dial out, primed to take in as much as possible in the seven days along the way.
We flew into Zadar from Airport Weeze near Düsseldorf, a wayside location for many budget airlines travelling to popular holiday destinations in Europe. Remember, you don’t need a lot of money to do cool things! In line with the Kaizen mentality that drives KANE, we believe in making the most out of what you have. At Zadar Airport we rented a car and began our drive South.
The road from Zadar to Split, and on down to Dubrovnik is lined with high medieval walls of fortresses and castles, topped with even higher bell-towers, all sprinkled with the salt and sun of the Adriatic Sea. It is easy to understand why Weiss and Benioff chose parts of Croatia to film the hit series Game of Thrones, and we marveled as we drove past one beautiful sight after the next. The bright color of the limestone used everywhere is mirrored by shine of our Silver Steel sunray dial and the polished stainless steel Silver Mesh strap, gleaming in the sun.
Armed with a fresh white shirt, mint Adidas Stan Smiths, and of course our Silver Steel, we spent our first night in Zadar walking the tight alleyways of the Varoš area in the old town. Things we decided to check out along the way were the Trg 5 Bunara (Square of 5 wells), the St. Anastasia Cathedral and the Church of St. Donata. We ended at the Sea Organ (Morske orgulje), an art installation of a series of piped blowholes carved into large marble stone steps placed just at sea level, so that as waves roll by wind is pushed through the holes and a sound is played. A definite must see! But even the rushing sea wind and the roaring of the ocean cannot drown out the echoes of laughter and music emanating from the surprisingly lively nearby bar streets such as the Varoška. Croatian wine is good and has been flowing for a few hours, and after our own helping to a glass of Graševina, a local white wine, we head up to a garden lounge called Ledana for a last drink and a night-time view of the harbor city.
The next morning we woke up early, and I mean 5:45AM to see the sunrise on our way to Plitvice National Park to go hiking and look at the waterfalls. Due to its specific geology and hydrobiology, the park is made up of bright Jurassic limestone and calcite barriers, or tufas, which separate the park into a series of lakes and waterfalls. Covered in beautiful moss-green bio-cultures and water lilies, the limestone and calcite formations also purify the water so that it is crystal clear and perpetually cool. Before our 2 hour drive back to Zadar we stopped at a busy roadside grill-house just at the end of the park and tried the local speciality “janjetina na ražnju”, which basically translates to lamb cooked whole on a spit for hours on end. I know we should try to minimize the amount of meat we consume, but if you are going to cheat on a rare occasion, do it with this!
The next part of our journey took us across the Adriatic Sea on a ferry to the island of Dugi Otok, which is renowned for it’s beach Sakuran. One of Croatia’s lesser-known beach gems, Sakarun is not easy for tourists to get to. Once disembarking the ferry at the port, the island’s sparsely dispersed public transport only passes the stops rarely. So for those who are too late to rent one of the few bikes from one of the few open shops in off season, an hour long hike across to the other side of the island ensues. Although there are spectacular views of the island along the way, the path is rocky and steep, and slightly tedious for ill prepared beach-hunters. However, our Silver Steel pulls us upward and onward like a compass of hope, and once arrived all seems worth it. Shallow and clear, the turquoise blue of the ocean inlet greets you as the path opens up from the brush and a scimitar strip of sand emerges. If you are looking for your own quiet seaside secret, Sakarun may be the perfect beach for you.
Highly motivated by the stark realization that we only have a few days of holiday remaining to see as much of the country as possible, we get back in our car and embark on our drive down to Šibenik and Split. Along the way we pass Pakoštane, a cute seaside village built around a small center square and church tower, where we enjoy a coffee with milk, or Kava s mlijekom as locals call it. Be warned: Ordering the coffee you want in Croatia is a deceivingly hard skill that took us many unsatisfactory Nescafé creations to learn. Many small coastal towns on the way to Šibenik have little more to do than to drink coffee and perfect the art of doing nothing, as true Croats would say, but not Pakoštane. Sitting there we strike up conversation with two German tourists who have driven day and night, arriving only that morning, to begin a 4-day high sea Tuna finishing adventure. With an abundance of Bluefin, Swordfish, Mahi-Mahi and many more large species, the Adriatic Sea is considered anglers paradise for big-game fishing. So if you are a bit of a thrill seeker, snap the triple security buckle on your mesh strap closed and battle one of these big boys out of the water.
After an espresso in the Šibenik Marina, we decide to have lunch at Pelligrini’s, a world-renowned restaurant that is only slightly short of Michelin quality. Offering the choice between three or five course meals, both of which include a series of dishes that mix traditional Dalmatian classics with modern flair, the flavors are excellent and the price affordable when considering Western European comparables. After our meal, we headed through the old town up to one of Šibenik’s four fortresses after the next, starting at St. Michael’s, onto Barone, and lastly St. John’s. All held increasingly spectacular views of the Luka canal, that in Medieval times, served as the only way into the bay, making it easy to defend against Ottoman invaders. Feeling like Silver Steel Knights, guardians on top of the city, we make our way down the hill to the car and continue our journey onward to Split.
Arriving late in Split, we are just in time for the sunset and manage to secure a spot to sit near the pier. For just a moment, we purposely neglect our sunray dials, as we watch the sun dip into the ocean and the sky burn in colors of red, orange, pink and amber. When the cold bottle of Ožujsko is empty we ask locals for a dinner tip, and boy are we glad when we listened.
“Freestyle Food” is says on the front of the comic and manga menu of Corto Maltese, and that is exactly what you should expect (although everything is unexpected at Corto). A refreshing and modern take on Dalmatian cuisine, integrating elements of Asian and Fusion to their beautiful seafood and meat dishes. All ingredients are sourced fresh and locally from the nearby fish market or delicatessen butcher across the road every morning, and what the team of chefs does behind the open kitchen counter is simply magic. Everything that our friendly waiter brought to us not only looked spectacular, but was also an explosion of finely selected complimentary flavors, that we regretted not having more space in our stomachs for. Try the Ragu Against the Machine or the Funky Fish for a really exciting culinary experience, and sample something from the witty drinks menu, that is written in such a way that even an alcoholic would feel flattered.
The next morning was once again an early hustle, because as the saying goes “the early bird catches the…Ferry”. If you consider yourself a genuine beach hunter then you must be ready to do some island hopping in Croatia, as this is where you’ll make the nicest finds. For only 7 Euro per person you can catch a ferry to the islands Brač and her larger more renowned sister Hvar, which both take just over an hour to get to. If its tourist filled bars along the promenade and guided tours from beaches to lagoons you’re after head to Hvar. For all quiet, nature-loving travellers in search of striking sunsets, quality conversations with locals, and a small selection of family-owned restaurants head to Supetar on Brač.
From there a bus takes you to Bol which arguably has the prettiest and longest pebble beach in Croatia – Zlatni Rat, also known as the Golden Cape. Spend a day back-lounging on the sun-baked stones and go for a long as you can stand it swim in the cold deep sea currents that flow past the southern end of the island. Feel free to leave your KANE on when sitting in the shallows (as all our watches are 5ATM water resistant), but we recommend taking it off for proper sea adventures as the salt water damages any coating over time.
We caught the ferry back to Split early the next morning after a quiet evening in Supetar, filled with good food and drink at one of the small family-owned Marina restaurants, and set off to see as much of Split in one day as possible. From the ostentatiously over-decorated cathedral, the limestone alleyways with marble floors, the ancient Roman pillars, to the amazing 360° view from the dizzying height of the church-bell tower, Split came to be our favorite Croatian city within 2 hours.
As daylight faded and yet another indescribable sunset loomed on the horizon, we ventured back into the maze of old town passageways to end our last night in Croatia with a drink at Akademika Club Ghetto. Built into the courtyard ruins of what used to be the large medieval home of a wealthy baron, this eccentric cocktail oasis offers refuge to anyone seeking a strong drink. There is no place for judgment or credit cards here, as the potpourri of strange and wild-looking, slightly intoxicated customers happily welcomes anyone into their midst.
We leave Split before noon the next day after breakfast at Corto Maltese, who do their own Croatian twist on poached eggs, and although delicious, the delight of the food is only a short lived and small consolation as we look down and our KANE Watches tell us that we have a plane to catch. After the 2 hour drive up to Zadar Airport, we jump back into the Ryanair Jet and are whisked away faster than we can say “Good-bye Croatia. We will miss you!”.
Before we knew it, we were back in our Amsterdam office in the Kerkstraat going through all the pictures, and trying to process all the wonderful experiences we had shared during our KANE on Tour trip. Our Silver Steel Silver Mesh made a stylish, trustworthy companion and really helped us catch the light (as well as seemingly bring it back too), because since our return, Amsterdam has also had stunning summer days above 25°C. So the next time you go on a trip somewhere nice, remember to throw your KANE and some extra straps in your bag, so that you can share your KANE on Tour moments with us via #kanewatches for a chance to get featured.
Don’t forget respect. Leave only footprints. Take only memories.
And most of all, Keep it KANE.
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