Croatia by size (population is approximately 4,5 mln.), and by main confession in the country (88% Catholics) is comparable with Ireland, and the health resort Zadar, which we visited is quite similar to our native Pärnu (70 000 people). Zadar is located on the shore of the Adriatic Sea and just 6 hours way (on the steamship) from the eastern shore of Italy. We didn't book in hotel this time but decided to stay in private house instead (hotels there tend to be big and overcrowded). There were three people in the house: nice and friendly old lady, her daughter (with good English) and her daughter's son of 14-15 years old (lad spent all evenings in front of telly watching football and shouting almost non-stop: “Butsa, butsa! ”, apparently goal in Croatian). Very quickly we became friends with grandma and spent a lot of time in conversations about history of her country - she in the broken Russian- English, I in even more broken Croatian.
It is necessary to say that Croatian is very similar to Russian and learns easily, but sometimes could be very funny: for instance Hello in Croatian is "Бог" (Bog) but in Russian it's a “God”, Good bye in Croatian is "С Богом" (Zbogom), but in Russian it's "God with you", but next one is a pinnacle - WC in Croatian is "Заходи" (Zahhodi) but in Russian means "Come on in"!
In Zadar you can find the most diverse excursions on offer: on the sea or into the mountains. But one of them is absolute must go, it's one-day excursion to the Kornati islands, more than 150 of them actually, terrain is karst-limestone and they look like small craters under water. The price of excursion is just 30 Euro (children go half price), price includes elegant dinner on the deck of the ship and the bottle of wine! I was bemused by the scene which followed our dinner: people just threw leftovers over the board! Coming from green conscience country like Ireland such a carelessness! but then watching how quickly it all disappeared into stomaches of starving seagulls and different varieties of fish, I realized it might not be a bad idea after all! In the program of the day also the visit to donkey island and bathing in the very hot salt lake.
Well-known Irish writer and dramatist Bernard Shaw thus described these places: “On the last day of the Creation God desired to crown His work, and thus created Kornati islands out of tears, stars and breath...”
For the the lovers of mountain climbing I recommend to go to the national park “Paclenica”: the climbing season lasts from April to November and the big day is 1st May - "Big Wall Speed Climbing". All others can enjoy day or two of walking, it's beautiful and hot, but water is not a problem as along the routes one can find “pitka voda” water springs ("drinking water" in Croatian)
We took a day trip to Zagreb - the capital of Croatia, but were very disappointed: huge block apartments in very bad state and many places simply “riddled” by graffiti, public transport reminded us of our own Soviet time experience - "the assault" of trolley buses in the rush hours.
So a city-break is not an option but for nature lovers Croatia is a jewel!