Nikola Tesla EV Rally Day 3: Sibenik, Krka, Smiljan, Plitvice, Zagreb

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The final day of the 2016 Nikola Tesla EV Rally on June 4, 2016 took participants on a journey of UNESCO heritage and natural beauty from the stunning Dalmatian coast to the main square of the capital Zagreb. 

There can’t be too many rallies in the world which start the final day from a UNESCO World Heritage Site in one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 destinations for 2016, then pass through stunning scenery to another UNESCO World Heritage Site before ending the rally on the main square of the capital city, but such has been the calibre of the 2016 Nikola Tesla EV Rally, that such highlights have come to be expected. 

After the first two days, from Porec in Istria to Opatija, and then from Opatija down the Adriatic coast to Sibenik, which included a public viewing of the assortment of electric cars taking part in front of World Heritage Site St James Cathedral, a leisurely breakfast in one of Croatia’s top hotels on the coast was the perfect way to prepare for the exciting day ahead. The breakfast views below and above.

It is hard to overstate the importance of the recently opened 5-star D-Marin Mandalina by the Turkish Dogus Group, with accompanying marina. Not only is it already one of the (if not THE) premier hotel on the Dalmatian coast, but it is also a major contributing factor in the rise of Sibenik as a destination. The historic coastal town, located north of Split is starting to come into the international limelight finally, and many tourism experts predict a bright future for both it and neighbouring Zadar. The opening of the nearby party and wellness island of Obonjan, as well as some innovative use of its fortresses and other heritage all point to good times around the corner for the city.  

The all-important charging of the cars took place overnight, and a sneak look at where the owner of Rimac Concept One parks his car at night.  

This Rimac Concept One car will be the first car imported into the United States ever, and owner Paul Runge was on hand to take part in the rally, and was clearly looking forward to the day ahead, travelling through some of Croatia’s most spectacular inland regions.  

It was a day of national parks. First up, just outside Sibenik was Krka National Park, one of Croatia’s top attractions.  

There was also time for a quick visit to Skradin, a small town on the water in a very deep bay, one of Croatia’s most exclusive destinations, and a favourite of the likes of Bill Gates. For wine lovers, it is only a short drive to Croatia’s premier wine tasting experience at the Alen Bibich winery.

And more glorious nature. And who thought Croatian tourism was just the beach and islands… 

It was a lovely day. Croatia has many national parks over the country, and the most famous of them is Plitvice Lakes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an attraction which has more than one million visitors a year, with each of the four seasons offering a totally different experiences.

Sadly our photographers were so entranced with its beauty that no photos of the lakes are available, but check out the video above for a great introduction.  

One of the many great things about the rally is that it introduces visitors to Croatia off the beaten track, allowing people to observe and enjoy real life in the country, far from the tourist brochures. 

And a visit to the place where it all began, the village of Smiljan, the birthplace of the genius that is Nikola Tesla. Many people do not know that Tesla is from Croatia, just as perhaps even more do not know that the original Zinfandel grape variety is also from Croatia. Two very important contributions to the world from a small country.  

And perhaps my favourite photo of the whole trip. Nikola Tesla, Concept One and the outstanding organisers of this superb event, Igor and Tina Kolovrat. With bureaucracy as it is in Croatia, putting on an event like this entails months of planning (indeed Tina confirmed that they have been working on it for 8 months), and the end result was not only one of the most innovative tourism events I have taken part in in Croatia, but also the best organised. A shining example of what can be achieved if excellent private initiatives such as this are given full support.

I wonder what Tesla would have made of it all, watching Rimac Concept One and a string of Teslas rolling up in his home town…  

It was just a great day to be alive. 

But all good things come to an end, and what better way to finish than on Ban Jelacic Square in the centre of Zagreb, before an overnight stay in the luxury Hotel Esplanade. 

An incredible few days, showcasing Croatia’s gourmet, natural, historic treasures, as well as promoting the possibilities of environmental solutions to pressing global problems. With so much sun available in Croatia, here is hoping that one of the outcomes of the rally will be the planting of seeds of ideas for further initiatives. 

Next year’s event will be expanding to Austria, Slovenia and Italy, while maintaining its Croatian identity. Look out for it on the official website – there can be few better or more relaxing ways to discover Croatia. 


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