Two Days in Zagreb

August 1, 2016 - 10:27 am 2 Comments

Spent a couple of days touring around Zagreb (ZAH-gdib) on my own. With its old world architecture and cobblestone and cafe culture, Zagreb could be almost any other city in Europe. It bears similarities to Budapest and Prague and Vienna. But from a tourist perspective, it doesn’t really seem like there’s a whole lot to do there. I was able to comfortably hit all the highlights in a day and a half.

The Zagreb Cathedral had scaffolding on it, of course. Is it a requirement for all my photo stops to be covered in scaffolding?

Zagreb Cathedral

One of the city’s most interesting and surprising highlights was the oddly named Museum of Broken Relationships. It’s an informal and fun collection of keepsakes that people have donated along with a stories about how they were significant to personal relationships in their lives. There are stuffed animals, articles of clothing, CDs, handwritten notes, each with a personal story attached to it. I found it charming, hilarious, and touching. Most of the exhibited items are not locked down or behind glass, perhaps a testament to how people respect the emotions of others. Neat idea. They should have a place like this in other cities.

For lunch one day, I had one of Croatia’s traditional dishes: štrukli. It’s a whole plate of baked cheese and noodles. I went to La Štruk, one of TripAdvisor’s highest rated places in Zagreb, for this specialty. You can get them “salty” (savory) or “sweet”. I went with the strongly recommended “salty” red pepper one, and it was quite tasty.

Salty Štrukli

One of my stops was up the Zagreb Eye, an ordinary looking office building with the top floor serving as an observation deck complete with full-service bar and DJ. The 80’s beats were fun, but avoid the strawberry smoothie.

Zagreb from the Eye

The people of Zagreb, or at least in the heavily touristed old town area where I was staying, seem happy and friendly and confident. They sit outside and drink coffee and smoke and laugh, and lots of PDA from the young ones. To me, this is all unusual for a Slavic country, as people from this part of the world are usually a little cold and unfriendly.

At lunch one day, I struck up a conversation with an Argentinian guy named Patricio, who moved to Zagreb to sell empanadas and other Latin American products. He did his best to convince me to move to Zagreb and do freelance web work. Hmm… And I met an Australian/Croatian guy named Ivan at Vinoteka Bornstein, a small but very cool wine bar and shop in a cellar on one of Zagreb’s side streets. His parents were Croatian, so he decided to move out this way to pursue his dream of selling wine. And

At night, aside from Tkalčićeva Street running in front of my hostel, Zagreb is eerily quiet. I spent evenings walking through parts of the old town without seeing anyone and hearing only distance church bells or the occasional car. There aren’t even any homeless people around. Seems that most of the young people in the city head down the coast this time of year.

I did a bit of bar-hopping one evening. At a hostel bar on the other side of town, I coincidentally met a girl from Nanaimo. The highlight of the night was when a group of 18-year-old Croatian girls joined my table and thought I was 22. Yes, the lights were on. I know I look young, but really?

On my last night in Zagreb, it was finally time to meet the group and out Chief Experience Officer, which is G Adventures’ fancy phrase for tour leader. His name is Gabriel, but he goes by “Gabo”. He’s from Argentina and speaks good English with a light Spanish accent. Like any good tour leader, Gabo was an enthusiastic and friendly bundle of energy from the start.

Our group is a good mix: few Brits, couple of Aussies, couple of Canadians, a Polish girl who looks a bit like Megan Fox, a Kiwi who looks a bit like Glenn Close, and three Americans, one of whom reminds me of my friend Barry back home. Coincidentally, one of the American girls is from DC.

The G List

This morning, we met up for our first orientation walk with Gabo. He told us a bit about the interesting history of Croatia and neighboring countries and walked us to a bunch of places I’d already explored on my own.

St. Mark's Church in Zagreb

Zagreb Love Lock

With a bit of time to kill before leaving town, I went with Antony, a tattooed guy from England, took advantage of the cooler weather and took a walk to Mirogoj Cemetery, a giant plot with rolling hills where many of Zagreb’s prominent residents are buried. The 40-minute journey and walk around the cemetery evoked some interesting conversation about relationships and religion and Donald Trump.

Mirogoj Cemetery

Mirogoj Cemetery

Man at Mirogoj Cemetery

Now on a bus to Plotwice (plit-VEE-tzeh), a national park with magical lakes and waterfalls and supposedly one of the most beautiful places in the country. Out the window, the hills and valleys are lusciously green, a sure sign of things to come.

    2 Responses to “Two Days in Zagreb”

  1. Kasia Says:

    Nice post, really enjoyed reading it… Though the Megan Fox made me laugh out loud in the middle of the street! 😉 I’m looking forward to checking out the next one already!

  2. Alice Lockett Says:

    Always look forward to your descriptive post on your adventures. I mostly enjoy the photos that accompany the narrative. I am learning more about you as I read your blog. It’s very hot here enjoy!

Leave a Reply