The family makes it to Zagreb and SWMBO is thrilled to be back. The 1325 kilometre drive from Amsterdam is complete!
Some cities are charismatic. They have flaws, sure. But we are willing to overlook these because these cities take hold of us. Or in the words of John Legend, “all of me loves all of you, love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections.” Well, that is Zagreb.
I fell in love with Zagreb in 2006 when I arrived here with no expectations and discovered a centre of decaying architecture with a vibrancy that grabbed you by the ankles and wouldn’t let go like a crazy shoe-shine guy in Hanoi. In 2006, I declared that it was like a falling apart Paris with a buzz. In the past eight years, the city has had a facelift and the out-there youth culture has been toned down a bit. It is now more 23 year old than 16 year old.
And, can I just say that the city offers great value for money. You will find everything here (much) cheaper than another comparable European city.
From our apartment, we decided to make a little circular walk. The weather forecast was 90% chance of rain but we weren’t planning to go more than a kilometre or so. We visited the Dolac market. What an amazing farmers’ market – every day, all day!
Then we stopped for an ice cream. We had four takers and paid 28 Kunas ($1.20 per cone) right in the centre of Zagreb. And it was delicious. In Paris, they wanted 2 euros ($3) for a single scoop! We continued on our way but the downpour started. We saw an open church and sheltered in the doorway for about half an hour.
When it cleared, we carried on, taking the stairs to the Upper City. A lot of stairs. If we’re being truthful, we wanted to take the funicular up but we just couldn’t find the gosh-darn thing so we huffed up. It’s been many weeks in the car since our 6th floor Paris apartment.
Strolling there, I saw a plaque outside a beautiful pharmacy. I went in to ask and discovered that the pharmacy has been operational, on-going, since 1355!! The building dates from then but was renovated in 1902 and is a beautiful example of Art Nouveau (or whatever it was called in Croatia). I took a lot of pictures but I must have been really excited because they pretty much all turned out blurry. You’ll have to take my word for it that there were drawers labelled with all kinds of herbal ingredients and beautiful mirrors and counters.
We walked around a bit looking for the funicular. Along the way, we saw lots of interesting and nice things.
We continued on to the funicular. The funicular is over 100 years old and has taken 4000 people/day up and down the hill without an accident during all that time. The price is less than $1/ride and the station is full of weird signs like the price of a ride is 4 Kunas but the price of an “urgent ride” is 20 Kunas. Also, have your money ready. Validate your ticket. And so on, and so forth. For those who have seen the Grand Budapest Hotel or who spent time in Eastern Europe a while back, you’ll know the drill.
In the lower town we each got a HUGE piece of pizza. The price for seven slices of humungous pizza was 70 Kuna ($12). We headed back to our place for a rest before FIFA!!! We are staying right on the main square and every FIFA world cup game night, the square (doesn’t come alive because it is always crazy alive anyways but…) hosts a concert and then everyone gathers to watch the game on a giant screen. We were stoked. Well, I know I was! Then the power went out. Just. In. Our. Apartment. Bummer.
Firstborn had been out with a friend and came home to tell us she’d been everywhere man. Including the Museum of Broken Relationships, which she recommended! It is a small museum comprised of objects and stories donated by people who have experienced a break-up.
The FIFA game (Germany/Brazil) was set to start at 10 pm Zagreb time. We could hear people going ballistic in the square when there was a goal but we had no energy to join them and no electricity to watch. About 40 minutes in, we regained power and tuned in to watch the massacre. A shocking 7-1 win for Germany.