OK, so we’re a bit behind on our blogging as we went to Zagreb three weeks ago, but finally I have found a moment to write about what a wonderful time we had in Croatia.
When we booked the trip to Zagreb we really had no idea what was there, but the tickets were cheap and we figured, why not! We also didn’t realise that it coincided with our 1st wedding anniversary, so it was nice to figure out a few weeks before that we didn’t need to organise anything as we already had organised something.
We took the long journey to Copenhagen Kastrup airport (about 3 hours) and then flew only 1½ hours before we landed in the capital of Croatia. It was an easy task to get from the airport to the main bus station, but we were a little surprised to see billboard signs with “Harvey Norman” and then something in Croatian written on them…..surely not we thought (more on this later). By the time we got to the hotel it was somewhat late, but we tried a few local Croatian wines (not too bad) before heading to bed.
joining the Zagreb Blue Bike tour. Zagreb can be divided into two sections – the Upper (old) town and the Lower (new) town. As our bike tour was to mainly focus on the old town, we started the morning exploring the new town. We wandered up through one of the many parks in Zagreb til we got to Trg Josipa Jelačića, one of the main squares in Zagreb. There was a big market happening with big white tents and we discovered the main item of sale inside was food – meats, cheeses, fresh produce, cakes etc. After that we found a café where Dan tried his first Croatian beer (that got the thumbs up) and I had a somewhat underrated cappuccino……I think I have been so spoilt with good coffee that we can get in Australia that I have not yet found a good cup (except in Assens at Café Cupcake of course).
We then wandered past the beautiful old yellow Croatian National Theatre building and found the Mimara Museum building which was meet-up point for our bike tour (so we’d know where to go later). We then backtracked more towards the centre and found a restaurant serving a
mix of Italian and modern food. I had risotto and Dan had a hamburger.
At 3pm sharp we met our wonderful guide Alida and her husband Bruno (who sorts out the bikes) and two American ladies who were to join us on the tour. Well, I had expectations, but this bike tour far exceeded them. It was so easy riding around the mostly flat city and we saw the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (with one of its spires under repair – apparently the restoration is continuous and even our guide has never seen it without any scaffolding), The Stone Gate, Lotrščak Tower (where a cannon has been fired at midday every day for the past 100 years – we had heard a huge bang earlier that day and wondered why no one seemed startled by it….that’s why!). Near St Mark’s Square and Church, we stumbled across numerous brides and grooms having their popular Saturday weddings and saw the Funicular built in 1888 making its way between the upper and lower towns. We stopped along the way at these and many more places for Alida to tell us about the history, culture or to answer
any other questions we came up with. Interestingly, we came across another Harvey Norman billboard and asked Alida what the Croatian writing meant....."opening soon" was her answer. Funnily enough she'd been wondering what "Harvey Norman" was so we had to tell her all about Jerry Harvey and his computer and furniture mega stores.
After the bike tour, we found a street café (there are a lot of these in Zagreb) where we had a wine before dinner. Here we got accosted by a lady selling bunches of flowers….we caved and bought some, then managed to get approached by every street beggar so decided it was time to make a quick escape to the restaurant that Alida had suggested to us for dinner. The food at Vinodol was amazing. We quickly agreed it was one of the best restaurant meals we’ve had this year and ended up returning on Sunday night to try some more traditional Croatian food.
After getting a feel for our surroundings on Saturday, we spent Sunday exploring the Upper Town in more detail. We checked out the Dolac Markets, climbed the Lotrščak Tower and saw the cannon and the amazing views of Zagreb, wandered
along Tkalčićeva Street that is crowded with bars and restaurants () with the old buildings reminding us a little of the main street of Assens. We also visited the Museum of Broken Relationships, probably not the most inspiring place to visit on your wedding anniversary, but the museum is an interesting concept where people can donate an item and their story about lost love in an effort to move on. It got a little depressing after about an hour so we left and decided we never wanted to be donating items to it.
So, that is Zagreb in a nutshell! Basically we loved it there and now it comes in second place of top cities we’ve visited: 1. London 2. Zagreb 3. Oslo 4. Helsinki 5. Copenhagen (although this is probably unfair seeing as we spent most of it at the hospital – I’m sure it will move up on the list when we get a chance to visit again without injury). Dan promises to write the blog on Malta, so it’ll be on its way soon.
PS, don’t forget to scroll down when you read the blog…..more photos are below.
The lands that today comprise Croatia were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the close of World War I. In 1918, the Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes formed a kingdom known after 1929 as Yugoslavia. Following World War II, Yugoslavia became a feder...more info