For almost a year I had seen Ryanair flights advertised to Zadar in Croatia but in all of that time it was impossible to find available seats but then suddenly there they were and only £20 return which seemed like an absolute bargain that was not to be missed. It cannot possibly be financially sustainable to offer flights at even less than the current UK taxation levels (at that time) so I have reached the conclusion that this period of unavailability must have been a time when the airline collected data on numbers of potential passengers and then used this to negotiate subsidies with the Croatian authorities to bring a guaranteed number of tourists into the country. We flew on 16th April 2008 and unusually for Ryanair there was a delay of about an hour for which no explanation was offered but at least it prevented them from playing the awful ‘landed on time’ fanfare on arrival at Zadar.
It was dark but the drive to the nearby village of Šukosan just outside the city was easy with a nice straight road and with just a little difficulty in the dark finding the location of the Apartmani Vilma, which was tucked away behind the main road on a quiet residential street. This was a curious place, not really a hotel at all but more like somebody’s house with some rented rooms attached. The owner had been waiting for us to arrive and showed us immediately to a clean and adequate room. Her English was quite poor and our Croatian was non-existent but she managed to provide directions to a restaurant and because it was getting late we rushed back into the village to find it.
Luckily we got lost and missed it but eventually chanced upon an alternative establishment, the Kod Guste, that was full of local people all enjoying substantial plates of food, mostly of fish. It was located on the side of the harbour and was catering for working people who were consuming large amounts of alcohol and smoking heavily. Being used to smoke free restaurants these days this seemed unusual and after an hour or so inside it needed a brisk walk along the waters edge to try and remove the smell of stale tobacco that was clinging on to our clothes before returning to the room.
Breakfast was a really bizarre experience that was served in the owner’s own living accommodation under the attentive eye of her man mountain son and various other members of the family who kept popping by to watch us drink cold tea and eat an uninspiring continental breakfast. This was a very self-conscious experience and feeling like a specimen under a microscope we finished quickly, returned to the room, packed, checked out and set off for the city of Zadar.