Split, Croatia 🇭🇷
Murray Smith

Zadar, Croatia 🇭🇷

Murlayna Travel: Yerp 2016

Saturday, August 13

It was about a 2 hour drive from Split to Zadar so we decided to listen to a Radiolab podcast whose topic had peaked my interest on the plane: tree intelligence. I had brought this idea up to our roommates before but was scoffed at then, so here was my chance to get some validation and solid science to back up my claims! It was exactly that, but unfortunately it ended just about where we had previously left off in our discussion, so Laynie and I spent the remainder of the trip debating, philosophizing, and exploring things ourselves. Mix in the dying sun and coastal views and anyone who knows me would believe that I was in a state of bliss.

Laynie suggested we stop to watch the rest of the sunset so we pulled over and hopped out. It’s kind of become our thing — randomly stopping and finding little havens wherever the trails lead. This rocky beach was totally deserted and we spent a lovely half hour watching nature’s own laser light show.

When we arrived in Zadar we were surprised to find that our apartment turned out to be much more of a hotel. There was a restaurant attached to the hotel lobby with large glass doors which opened out onto the parking lot. On one side of the lot was a brick house and chimney that looked like an oversized pizza oven; inside was a huge wood fire with a full pig on the rotisserie — just like in the movies!

The smoke made the entire area smell of wonderful campfire and we were both immediately taken in. The hotel staff were very polite and the front desk lady even walked us right up to our room to make sure everything was to our liking. Too tired to even bring ourselves to eat, we spent the rest of the night introverting on our phones — writing this blog, for instance.

Sunday, August 14

The next morning we had to head straight to the hospital. The UTI Laynie had been struggling through for the past week wasn’t dissipating — quite the opposite. None of the usual treatments were working, so Laynie got some thorough directions from the understanding lady at the front desk, and we made our way to the small Croatian-only-signed hospital campus.

Unlike the hospitals we’re used to, this was a multi-building-spanning outfit, and I’m pretty sure you had to be a local to know where anything was — even the emergency triage was in the middle of the cluster, far from the main parking lot and behind plenty of smaller boarded up buildings.

A few waiting rooms later, we arrived at another vestibule for what seemed like the doctor herself. Here were maybe a dozen people and in the 20 minutes we sat there another couple dozen arrived. At one point a man gesticulated to another in a foreign tongue that he had to wait his turn, since ‘this person, him, her, etc.’ were here beforehand; this told us it was a first-come first-served kind of deal — which we hadn’t previously understood (we assumed the doctor would call our name based on the info and vitals Laynie had given in the other departments). It proved to be a stroke of luck since we would have sat there obliviously for who knows how long if we hadn’t caught wind of that man’s announcement! A couple more people entered the office, then when no one jumped to their feet, we figured it was Laynie’s turn. She consulted with the doctor in broken English, and got her prescription. Now we had to fill it — on a Sunday.

We drove back towards our hotel and saw a sign for “farmacia” (not actually the Croatian word for pharmacy) with it’s Europeanly-ubiquitous green cross so we pulled into this Costco-like complex to pay the pharmacist a visit. It was indeed open, unlike the others we’d seen/passed, but it turned out it didn’t actually fill prescriptions (it was a holistic pharmacy… basically a glorified vitamin shop).

Back at our hotel, we hoped to catch the last few minutes of breakfast (since our booking said it was included). We got there with one minute to spare at 10:59 and helplessly asked if there was anything left to eat; the man seemed surprised and said “of course, please sit!” So it wasn’t your usual continental breakfast, we got a fully served meal at the fancy restaurant attached to our hotel!

The waiter listed the offerings to us: “eggs, eggs with ham, eggs with cheese, eggs with ham and cheese, eggs and ham, eggs and cheese, scrambled…” Okay, we ordered some eggs with/and things. Neither of us really like eggs but they are healthy so we both eat them if needed. We did so, alongside orange juice and fresh bread with jam, then finished checking out.

We asked the same helpful lady for advice on a pharmacy and she delivered again: the only one open on Sunday was in the center of the old city, though she wasn’t quite sure where specifically it was. She gave us a map with a bunch of potential locations and we began our mission to get Laynie’s urinary tract loaded with antibiotics.

It took a while to find the right one (ironically it was just off the main square), but that had the fortuitous side-effect of us touring around Zadar’s cultural center, which was similar to other Croatian hubs, but not quite as established or impactful or beautiful. Basically, it was Split/Korčula, Jr.

We grabbed some gelato and sat on the stone-walled shore next to a young man practicing guitar. He played new Coldplay and old Queen and others we recognized; he was neither performing nor distractingly dissonant, rather, it was a perfectly suited soundtrack to the azure-hued views and greater-perspective-on-life conversation that we ended up having there.

For some reason this for-all-intents-and-purposes minor hospital scare had got us both realizing how we are aging and the changes that are happening and will soon accelerate in happening around us. We talked about how we are personally changing, how are friends are changing, how our interactions with those friends are changing, and how we’re likely verging on a brand new phase of life. It’s corny to write it now, but at the time we really congealed a lot of the stuff that’d been floating around with us both for a while.

I went for a swim to seal it off then we departed the city and headed inland for the world renowned Plitvice Lakes.