Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Last day of vacation. Tomorrow we catch our flight, but today we
explore the capital city of Zagreb. I let Tom sleep in, then we
went downstairs at 11:00 a.m. for coffee with milk, with a
leaf-pattern design in the foam. Very fancy. The temperature is
around 70 today and overcast.
We boarded a tram right outside Rooms Madison. Supposedly, you can
get tickets on board from the driver, but the driver was walled off
by glass and never acknowledged us. Then an official-looking person
boarded at a later stop and was checking to see that everyone had
validated their tickets, but he studiously skipped us. He probably
sensed we were clueless, and engaging us was going to be more
trouble than it was worth. Anyway, free ride! We got off the tram
at Trg bana Jelacica in the center of the city, next to the Old
Town, just after noon, welcomed by “Jana” signs everywhere. My
Warmly welcoming me to
Dolac Market is a huge, very cool, multi-level food market. The top
level is an open-air green market, with a fish market off to one
side, and beneath the green market, inside, you can get meat,
dairy, baked goods, and more. Everything is super fresh. I would
love to do my grocery shopping here.
We next made our way to the Cathedral of the Assumption of the
Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saintly Kings Stephen and Ladislav. The
locals just call it the Katedrala. Wow, it's gorgeous. The outside
is undergoing some renovation, but the inside is quite grand, not
tacky grand like some of them are, but more of a devout grand.
On the back wall to the right as you enter the Cathedral, there's
something written in a strange script called Glagolitic. Glagolitic
later morphed into the Cyrillic alphabet. In 1991, with Croatian
nationalism at its zenith, the country considered making Glagolitic
its official alphabet. I'm sure glad they didn't. We had a tough
enough time reading the signs as it is!
We picked up a snack at a specialty market in a big tent on
Governor Jelacica Square. Tom got a berry strudel, and I got a
domace pite, a savory, cold strudel with beef and potato.
The Kamenita Vrata (Stone Gate) is the only remaining intact town
gate. Under the arch of the gateway is a chapel containing a
painting of the Virgin Mary that miraculously survived a major fire
in an adjoining house in 1731.
Zagreb's Old Town is home to a ridiculous little funicular. At only
66 meters long, with an elevation change of 30.5 meters, it is the
shortest passenger cable car in the world. We'd actually planned on
riding the silly thing, but we wandered to the top before we knew
it, and there was even less need to take it down.
That's the whole
At the top of the funicular is Kula Lotrscak a/k/a the Burglars'
Tower, the only remaining tower from the 13th century
fortifications. The bells of the tower used to summon the townsfolk
to return to the town at sunset, when the gates were locked.
Presently, a canon is shot from here every day at noon for unknown
reasons. We climbed the tower and enjoyed the views over
Zagreb from Kula
Markov Trg (St. Mark's Square) is centered around the 13th century
St. Mark's Church. The roof tiles date from the 19th century and
depict the coats of arms of the Kingdom of Croatia, Dalmatia and
Slovonia and the City of Zagreb. On one side of the church is the
Hvartski Sabor (Croatia Parliament), and on the other side is the
Banski Dvori (Governor's Palace), which today houses the prime
minister's office. Croatia's seat of government is very understated
and not busy at all, quite a contrast from Washington, D.C.
One little news van at
the Prime Minister's office
Not a ton of tourists in Zagreb, but the streets and sidewalks are
filled with locals and expats, a great place for just wandering
around. We had a late lunch/early dinner at Tkalca Ozujsko Pub on
the very lively pedestrian-only Tkalciceva Street. I had beer
goulash, and Tom had cevepi, a kind of sausage popular in Croatia.
I reiterate: The food is MUCH better in Zagreb than on the coast,
and cheaper too.
Decrepit or character or
We decided to walk to our accommodation instead of taking the tram,
to see some of the new town and the “Green Horseshoe,” a line of
parks and green spaces in the city center, south of the Old Town,
ending at the Zagreb Glavni Kolodvor (main railway station). It was
a long walk, but we enjoyed the parks and ornate buildings.
Zagreb Main Railway
We got back to Rooms Madison about 7:00 p.m., buying snacks and
drinks in the shop next door first. No need for another meal
tonight. One of my go-to snacks of the trip has been kikiriki.
Sounds exotic, doesn't it? It means peanuts. We've also had lots of
pretzels and crackers, digestive biscuits, chocolate chip cookies,
often flavored with lemon (not a great addition), cashews, and
paprika-flavored potato chips. Several times for lunch we've
picnicked on leftover pizza or pepperoni and cheese.
Zagreb's ubiquitous blue
Around 10:30 we went downstairs to the bar for a glass of wine.
They're only supposed to stay open until 11:00 on Tuesdays, but we
were there till after midnight talking with Igor, the young owner,
about our visit to Croatia and his hoped-for visit to the U.S.
someday. At some point a friend of his arrived, and we spoke with
them about the Homeland War and Croatia's future in the EU. A very
interesting evening. Igor gave us samples of plum-honey liqueur and
walnut liqueur, both local and homemade. We should sleep good on
our last night abroad!
Screwin' around in
Sign our guestbook