Tucked into the coast some two hours north of Split, Zadar is a city of about 75,000. It’s also a city with an illustrious past that was hurled one piece of bad luck after another in the 20th century. It suffered Italian and German invasions during World War II, and the damage sustained during the more recent Croatian War of Independence in the ‘90s remains evident. Shabby buildings covered in mortar pockmarks and graffiti lined our path as we made our way from a residential area to the historic section of town and towards the Adriatic, where we were in search of the famous Sea Organ. At this point I wasn’t expecting a whole lot, and to be fair, my head was mostly clouded with visions of Sebastian pounding away at some contraption made out of singing sea anemones. (You know yours is, too.)
Which, it turned out, was not far from the truth. The Zadar Sea Organ is, to put it mildly, magical. Like in a way Disney can only dream about. Unveiled in 2005, the Sea Organ is the brain child of Nikola Bašić, who turned a blah concrete coastline into a spectacular instrument that is literally powered by the wind and the waves. Tourists and locals alike gather on the plaza that is, in essence, the organ, and sit, staring transfixed at the horizon on one side and ancient Roman ruins on the other. The sound is at once discordant and harmonic. It’s beautiful, yet more than a little odd. In fact, it's not unlike Zadar itself. I’ve never heard anything like it before, and I’m confident I never will again. I’ll keep it in my head though, as my favorite Croatian souvenir.