Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Zagreb is surprisingly cool

I expected Zagreb to be like Sofia, but was pleasantly mistaken. Although it is about the same size, it has a distinct appeal. BH described it as a mix of Prague and Sofia; while it had some ugly Yugoslav-era structures, there was also a beautiful old town and, my favorite, a large pedestrian-only area.
The tourist brochure for Zagreb states that “(t)here are very few places where the present and the past coexist as harmoniously as in Gornji grad- Zagreb’s Upper Town.” To support this argument, the pictures in the brochure show people dressed up in Victorian era costume as if it is the daily routine. Of course, we didn’t run into anyone in military regalia or a layered dress (it was very hot) but the city did have a special feel.
We started out our tour near the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  We wandered through some allies, passed a bar named after JRR Tolkien, and ended up on Tkalciceva; a wonderful street full of bars and restaurants. Since we didn’t know precisely where to go, we headed up a stairwell and found ourselves in Markov Trg. ‘Trg’ means ‘square’ in Serbo-Croatian, and is really fun to say. The square is dominated by St. Mark’s Church, with its patriotic roof decoration, but is also home to the parliament. At around 8 pm on a Tuesday, the upper town was empty and pleasant­— it felt similar to an October evening in the castle district of Prague.
St. Mark's Church

The Main Square

Before heading home, we went back to Tkalciceva Street for a drink, but then ran into a group of Deaf people from Croatia, Italy and France. They were all in Zagreb for the World Deaf Poker Championship and were happy to invite us for a drink.

We sat, chatted, and drank maybe a bit too much for a Tuesday night. When you drink on a Tuesday, of course you need to have one of these for a late-night snack.
Deep-fried Hamburger

It is unfortunate that we only spent one evening in Zagreb, because I think there is a lot more to explore. Like most tourists, we are jetting off to the coast. But we have one stop first: Plitvice Lakes Park.

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