I guess the simple lesson is, you have to give things a chance. At first I was really put out by Zadar, but once I found my bearings, and a new room closer to the sea and center of town for the same price with a sweet old lady and her son--whom she referred to as an invalid--I really took to Zadar.
It had old stone walls and wide streets for the air to flow through plentifully. If the old town got too claustrophobic with its pigeon filled squares, I could go to the open, seaward side of the old town and fill my lungs with the strong wind coming off the Adriatic. Down at the far end of this side I could find real peace by Zadar’s sea organ that plays like a pipe organ powered by the passing waves. Maybe it was the blisters on my feet, but I was learning to slow down.
And then I let curiosity take me into a little courtyard restaurant. Closed in by four walls and flowering trees, I sat down for a dish of shrimp risotto and tomato salad. Quiet music was playing and the few customers provided a quiet lull of foreign languages.
At the end of the meal I asked the waiter to tell me about the different liquors on the menu, including the sweet one I’d read about made from maraschino cherries. He started to tell me about off menu items, the home made stuff. He brought me a type of rakija called trevevica made from wild grasses and berries. It was like plum or grape brandy, but slightly aromatic. It was smooth and I told him it was fantastic. I actually couldn’t hide my smile at how good it was.
When I went in to pay the bill, he told me the trevevica was on him. I don’t know for sure, and I never will, but I want to think he didn’t charge me because, maybe, he felt he had shared something unique from his culture, something he was proud of.