A full day excursion to Krka National Park and Šibenik was the order of the day today and we all clambered into our minibus and met our guide, Sandra. Throughout the journey to Krka she chatted to us at top speed in a mixture of English and Croatian imparting huge amounts of information about the area we were passing through and the places we were about to visit. At Krka we took the trail through the woods and past the myriad waterfalls and rapids, up and down stone steps and along boardwalks, taking in all the beauty of this wonderful natural environment. An encounter with a large, knobbly toad gave us one of our first opportunities to contemplate the language we are all trying to master. In Croatian, the word for toad is krastača not to be confused with krastavac, which means a cucumber! These seemingly unrelated entities on closer consideration are more similar than you might think, when you consider that ridge cucumbers are actually covered with the same kind of knobbles as a toad. And what does the word common to both in Croatian, krasta, actually mean? Scab or crust. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. What a wonderful language. Just don’t get your toads mixed up with your cucumbers next time you visit Konzum!
After lunch we drove on to Šibenik and took a walking tour of this charming old town. Sandra was now well into her stride and in the beautiful cathedral she told us all about the different styles and influences that had contributed to the building, which had been over a hundred years in the making. Starting off in the Gothic style, it had transitioned through Renaissance-Gothic into pure Renaissance and she pointed out these different styles which were evident in the fabric of the building. A gentle stroll through the old town took us along cobbled streets past windows filled with flowers and Sandra stopped to point out the earliest street light powered by electricity in Europe and some little stone drinking troughs at ground level. These had been incorporated into the construction of the streets ostensibly out of the ‘amori di carni’ of the erstwhile residents of the town. However, as is so often the case, there was more to these than met the eye and it was the residents’ way of keeping tabs on any animal showing signs of developing rabies, otherwise known as hydrophobia. As long as the dogs and cats kept drinking, all was fine but watch out for any animal who shied away from the water troughs. Things are not always as altruistic as they seem and this looked like a jolly good early example of enlightened self-interest! Back on the minibus, Sandra made sure that we had been paying attention by asking us questions in Croatian about what we had seen. Mercifully we seemed to acquit ourselves to her satisfaction. And so our latest adventure begins.