Zagreb, Croatia! Halloween! And a Rough Ride back to Prague

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October 31st 2009
Published: November 14th 2009
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We woke up late today because of miles and miles of walking and traveling and sleeping on hard mattresses! Oh and snoring Australians (it was so bad, I had to wake the poor Aussie up). We got out around 9am and skipped breakfast! It is probably a good thing we got an extra hour or two of sleep.. because we had some unexpected surprised coming our way!

Last night we planned out our route, so we had a good idea of where were going. First we stopped at the market which was very overwhelming because there were so many people, but the space was not so big. We got some souvenirs and headed to the cathedral. At first there was a mass going on, so we watched the mass from the back and when it was over we explored the cathedral. In the back, there was a glass coffin, so you could see the body inside, but it was well preserved. But still a little creepy..

After the cathedral, we went to St. Mark's square to see the St. Mark's cathedral. It was very different than the cathedral, not as big, but more colorful. The nun at first would not let us in, but then I guess she felt bad and she changed her mind. Maybe it was because she knew my friend's name was Mark? It was a lot more interesting on the outside than it was on the inside.

After the cathedral, we climbed the look out tower. It was a great view only from one angle. Zagreb is beautiful, but not from an aerial view! We walked down the hill and into the main square again. The square was hopping. So many people were meeting, sitting, talking, eating, etc. It was the place to be. We headed down one of the side streets to the national theatre. Unfortunately they were sold out of the show later that evening.. 😞 We checked out some monumental buildings and even came across some old men playing soccer.. It was awesome. I think I took about ten pictures of the extravaganza! It just didn't look right.. it didn't look like they should bend that way or leap like that or run that fast..

We went to the Botanical garden which Zagreb is famous for and we enjoyed the nature.. We walked through another park near the cathedral where we ran into group of people with about 8 dogs. It was like in the movies when the leashes get awkwardly tangled and the people are trying to be as polite as possible, but underneath it all they are really frustrated. I enjoyed the awkward moment and took pictures.

Then we got some Greek food.. and it was Delicious. The servers were wearing white shirts and bright blue pants to match the colors of the Greek flag. I felt a little embarrassed for them, but I guess it added to the ambiance. After lunch/dinner, we found this cute store that sold hand made masks.. And it WAS Halloween, so we were both a little tempted, but not tempted enough to pay fifty dollars! But we took pictures with them anyway. We walked to the town square, where I finally got a hold of Mario (the man we met on the way to Slovenia a couple days before). He invited us to his Halloween party! This was a very pleasant surprise!

We decided not to get a hostel that night because our train left at 5am anyway and if we were going to a party we wouldnt get back
Vesna PusicVesna PusicVesna Pusic

Maybe the future president of Croatia.. And I have her email address.
until late, so there was no point. This was mistake number 1..Mario said he would pick us up at 11pm. SO we had a few hours to kill.. We got some coffee, and then headed to the main sq again. And what do we see? PUMPKINS! Pumpkins in Croatia? Not just pumpkins, but carving pumpkins! There was a table set up in the square for Pumpkin carving!

So, Mark asks if we are aloud to carve too and they tell us to go ahead.. "It's for a political cause!" So, we start carving our pumpkins. The Croatians think we are rockstars because we were so good and they had never taken a knife to a pumpkin in their lives. They kept asking for advice and stared in awe at our creations.

Finally a man asked us "So, do you know who that lady is?" He pointed to the lady in the orange scarf in the center of the table. He both shook our heads as we noticed that the same lady was on a pin on his shirt. "She is in the top two for the running for the Croatian Presidency." So, this is like meeting Hilary Clinton
Vesna PusicVesna PusicVesna Pusic

Vesna, Us , Our carved pumkins
or John McCain.. And then she heard us speaking English.. and that's when the cameras came out. TV cameras and Newspaper cameras were everywhere. "Are you two American?"

We talked to her for a few minutes with microphones in our faces and flashing lights. We were on TV and in the newspaper! We told her that we were studying politics in the United States and we told her what we knew about Croatia- that they were trying to become part of the EU and the struggle between the polarized parties.. She was impressed that we knew so much..

After our "photo shoot" and interview with maybe the future president of Croatia, we went to a pub with one of her students and talked for a long time about Croatia and about Politics. She told us that she supported Vesna Pusic because of her far left ideals. She talked about the struggles of the Croatian economy and it was mind boggling to hear about how hard of a time Croatia is having.

Finally, it was eleven and Mario picked us up. We were still kind of shocked that we met this political figure AND we got invited to
Halloween PartyHalloween PartyHalloween Party

There's Mario
a Halloween party.. what a random night. Well it doesn't end here! Mario picks us up in a really nice SUV (SUVs are extremely rare in Europe). His car is full of beautiful modeleque women in expensive costumes. Mark and I look at each other and are like "Wow, who is this guy?!"

We get to the party and it is very classy and sheek. We all received cards which were meant to keep track of your bill, and then you cashed out at the end. But we didn't end up paying for any drinks. It was a really cool experience. Everyone at the party was really interested in us and we made our rounds. We were definitely the youngest ones there!

FInally, it was time to get to the train station. We get there.. pretty sleepy! I sit down, trying to stay awake so we don't miss our train! A man sits next to me and vomits on my legs. And then he gets up and leaves. It wasn't a lot, but it was enough to smell for the next 12 hours of traveling! So, We make it on our train to Ljubljana where a train would
Halloween PartyHalloween PartyHalloween Party

Mario and I
take us to Salsburg, and then we would get a connecting train to Prague. DIDNT HAPPEN

We were so tired, that we fell asleep... And when the man came to check our tickets, we laughed and said Ljubjana.. 2 hour ago. "Do you have money?" Nope.. we didn't. He laughed and we assumed that maybe that meant he wasnt going to kick us off the train! We got off at the next big stop. We had already missed our train from Ljubljana to Salsburg, so we got a ticket to Salsburg in the nick of time to catch our connecting train.

13 hours later, smelling like vomit, we arrived in Prague. I was never so happy to be back in my Soviet-style Student Domitory.

Additional photos below
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14th November 2009

Unbelievable!!!! Don't know what else to say!

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