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Published: July 25th 2015
When I returned from Ljubljana I thought a lot about possible changes in my plans. It was evident that I was running the risk of staying in Split (planned for the 13th
of July, return bus tickets bought in advance) for the whole day (or maybe the bus company would not have a return trip on the same day!) so I quickly decided to cancel the trip to Split and find a closer city for a half-day visit.
Having arrived from Ljubljana, I entered the bus station and asked whether it was possible to refund my tickets. Thankfully, they returned the whole money minus a 10%!w(MISSING)ithdrawal. I was perfectly happy with that and went to the hostel. I opened the Google maps and scanned the vicinities, reading about several nearby cities in Slovenia, Croatia, and even Bosnia and Herzegovina (not sure, probably I’d need a separate visa to go there). Of course, I did want to go to Split, but I’ll do it some other time. Finally I had to choose between Rijeka and Varazdin. Both seemed quite interesting and full of sights, Rijeka being farther and having more sights. I chose Varazdin for a half-day trip on the 13th
of July. The cost would be roughly 120 Kuna for the train tickets (the bus was more expensive but faster; I chose the trains).
Varazdin is 81 km to the north from Zagreb, the train journey there takes about two and a half hours. It makes a lot of stops in various settlements and villages. The bus arrives considerably faster. I departed at about 8 o’clock and soon found myself in this small and attractive town.
The first settlement here, archaeologists say, existed as far back as the Roman times. In 1209, Hungarian King Andrasz II made Varazdin, the first Croatian town, a free king’s town. Varazdin was Croatia’s main town in 1756-1776 under Empress Maria-Teresia; many palaces were built during that period in the baroque style. The capital was moved to Zagreb when the town burned to ashes in 1776.
When I entered the city’s centre I couldn’t but admire the beauty of its colours, the neat buildings, streets, and narrow passages. There were a couple of small squares with open-air cafes, already full of people, and many churches. A plate on a church said, as I understood, that the town of Varazdin was a winner
of the ‘European Competition for Towns and Villages in Bloom’.
I must mention that during this seven-day trip I paid much attention to captions in the local languages (and English!) on building walls, gates, and churches. I have certain limited knowledge of Serbian (it of course opens the door to Croatian, Slovenian, and other languages of the same group) and so I tried to understand what the captions say. I have no knowledge of Hungarian, unfortunately.
I then needed to find the Varazdin Castle (read about it while preparing for the journey). As I had no map I had, first, to recall the image of the map seen on the previous day, and second, to follow the sign posts for drivers showing the direction. I walked a lot, crossed a large square, saw a couple more churches, and even came to the city’s bus station, and then found myself at the very street where I began. However, I persisted in following the sign posts and finally found the castle. It was white with brown roof tiles in a surrounding of green hills and bushes, and beautiful. Varazdin Castle was built in the XIV-XVI centuries.
After the castle
I hurried back to the station. I bought a ticket and waited for about an hour. The train journey was anything but boring: I was enjoying the scenery during the whole three hours of it. I was alone in the compartment and even managed to fall asleep for a while.
When I returned to the hostel (it was about 3 PM) I worked with my translations for a while, and then at about 6 I went out in search of food products (I bought them at a supermarket and also at a small shop in the old part) and had a nice walk. What I saw in the evening is described in the entry about Zagreb.
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