101 Things to Do in Dalmatia; Beauty and Hospitality Galore as Margaret Doherty Falls for This Idyllic Region of Croatia

Article excerpt

I HAD only been in Croatia for 10 minutes and already I was very fond of the place.They really know how to give visitors a warm welcome.

In that short time I'd cleared passport control, collected my luggage and had a cake in one hand and a cherry brandy in the other. And all to the sound of folk rhythms of local musicians.

Surely I must be dreaming. Well no. This incredible welcome is laid on for the first and last flights of the tourist season each year and I had just arrived on the inaugural flight from Edinburgh to Zadar, the ancient capital of Dalmatia in Croatia.

I finally dragged myself away from the fresh figs, walnuts, pastries, fruit juices and liqueurs to my hotel, the Funimation in Borik, about three miles from the walled city of Zadar.

With extensive facilities including swimming pools, spa and the kids' Funimation (Fun + Animation) programmes, there are lots of activities for all the family in the hotel complex.

When you're ready to explore further afield, Zadar is full of surprises.

Inside the walls of this peninsular city are the remains of a Roman forum and road layouts that still reflect the ancient grid system.

There's little left of the forum founded by Emperor Augustus in the first century AD but the walls of the adjacent St Donat's church, built in the ninth century and Croatia's largest Byzantine building, are constructed from blocks taken from the forum.

There's a strong caf culture here too which is worth taking advantage of.

Stop for a coffee in the main square Narodni Trg among the Venetian buildings and take time to relax and watch the world go by.

More modern attractions are to be found on the recently-renovated quay. An evening stroll here is a must.

In 1964, legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock stayed in the Hotel Zagreb which has an imposing facade looking out to the spectacular sunsets he considered the most beautiful in the world.

Nearby you'll find the Sea Organ, a set of underwater pipes with openings in an elegant set of steps at the water's edge.

The movement of the water creates the haunting notes that constantly fill the air.

And at night you'll find an extra splash of colour.

Last year, a solar-powered installation, Greeting to the Sun, designed by the same architect, was completed and comes alive after sunset when the rainbow colours dance in sync with the music of the Sea Organ to the delight of the children running around following the moving lights. …