Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Zagreb

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 kinda place.

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Warmly welcoming me to Zagreb!

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Too much information

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.

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Dolac Market outside

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Dolac Market inside

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.

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Katedrala

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Majestic interior

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Saintly scene

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!

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Translation anyone?

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. Delicious.

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.

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Kamenita Vrata

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Stone Gate Chapel

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.

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That's the whole funicular!

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.

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Zagreb from Kula Lotrscak

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Me again!

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Kula Lotrscak

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.

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Crkva Sv. Markov

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Hvartski Sabor

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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.

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Croatian naive art

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Decrepit or character or both?

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.

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Mushroom Fountain

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The Art Pavilion

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King Tomislav Square

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Zagreb Main Railway Station

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.

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Zagreb's ubiquitous blue trams

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!

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Screwin' around in Zagreb



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