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  • Writer's pictureLaura Lilly

Day trip to Zadar and Nin

One of the best things about the location of our cozy bed&brekfast in Tisno is how easy it is to get to so many cool places, like Zadar, Split, Krka, Paklenica, Kornati, etc. During off- season months, when those who look for cheap vacation rental find their way to Lilly's Cozy Cove, we take the advantage of the time we have and explore new areas of Dalmatia. And since we also like to combine pleasure with functionality, on this day we were taking our guests who were with us for 2 months to the Zadar airport, and decided to combine that with the Zadar/Nin/King vineyards day trip. Our furthest point was Nin, about an hour and a half away, driving on Magistrala - the scenic route, instead of the interstate, and following the speed limit. We didn't always follow the speed limit, but after being fined twice in one month for speeding, we learned our lesson. The second time was on that day, on our way to Zadar, and it was our dear friend who was visiting from the US, and was pulled over and fined for speeding. She made it into a fun event for everyone, asking the cops if she could take a selfie with one of them.

Nin is known for its location on a tiny island, connected with the mainland by two stone bridges. It also is a home to the smallest cathedral in the world (or in Croatia!!!. I know, big difference, but Croatians like to say that they invented everything and that they have something unique about everything).​​ Parking was easy, on a large gravel lot right outside of the stone wall surrounding the old town of Nin. The town also has the Museum of Nin Antiquities, a long, pleasant beach walk, and one of the rare sandy beaches in Croatia - Ninska laguna beach. On our town scroll, we saw how locals air dry fish.

From Nin, just a few minutes drive away is the Nin Salt Factory, with a neat gift shop, where we picked up a few gifts, small enough to fit in the carry-on luggage, and viewed the old salt carts and wagons. It’s also possible to visit a museum or take a bird-watching tour of the salt pools, offered from 9 am til 1 pm and 5 pm til 8 pm every day during July and August.

After being washed by the sea and sprinkled with local salt, we drove to another small town - Petrčane - to visit King Vineyards and its Konoba (an outdoor grill). The brown signs leading us to the vineyards were pretty clear, until the very end. The road that takes into Petrčane curves to the left at one point, and the entrance into the vineyards is straight ahead, on a gravel road, up a gently inclined hill, covered with grapevines.

We parked just outside of Konoba, and on our walk in through a dry stone-stacked gate, we stopped and “smelt the roses” (read lavander). The view to the other side - the sea, through the rows of grapevines was breathtaking, so we paused a moment and took that beauty in. We called ahead of time and arranged 3 wine tastings, but by the time we got there we were ready for lunch. The Konoba head host, an expert of his job, quickly reset himself to be able to meet our new needs. Tasting three of their wines with carefully picked bites in between was a much fuller experience.

The host was proud to tell us that they serve only the best local food, and our taste buds confirmed it. We started with a glass of rosé, accompanied by a platter of Drniš prosciutto (Drniš prosciutto is on the list of Croatian foods with protective designations of origin and geographical indications (GI) at the EU level, the same protection as the Parmigiano Reggiano, Tuscan olives, etc). Our main course of grilled meat, fish and vegetable platters came with a glass of their white Pošip wine; to finish our dining experience with a platter of Pag cheese (another product with the EU GI designation), fig preserve and a glass of their Crljenak red wine. It all was spiced with the story of the 1,000 year old history of the land. At the end, for those of us who love the coffee drinking culture of Croatia, we finished with their kickass espresso that was served with a small pitcher of milk on a side. If traveling with small children, there is a wide open area for them to run around and have a blast.

With full bellies we left the vineyards and drove into Zadar, to visit the amazing sea organ and greetings to the sun. Once there, we couldn't leave without having another refreshing drink to cool us off. We picked the bar called Gray Bar, located on the People’s Square as the great people watching spot. A glass of bitter sweet bitter lemon by Schweppes and freshly squeezed lemonade was enough to energize us enough to get back to our car and drive home.

On our way home we did an egg errand, visiting a friend in the village of Vukšić. Here, the hospitality of the Croatian people was at its best. Our friend Svjetlana had us taste her homemade rose petals liquor and freshly picked mulberries. We were home by 7 pm, re-charged by the richness of the day events and the beauty of this place we call home.

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