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  • Writer's pictureKaren O.

A Summer Afternoon in Zagreb.

The birth country of Nikola Tesla, the Republic of Croatia, part of former Yugoslavia, is a country in the Balkans, bordering Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Hungary and Italy across the sea. Its capital is Zagreb, with its architectural influence from the Austro-Hungarian eras of the 18th and 19th centuries.

I am spending my afternoon exploring the city of Zagreb and it is worth a visit. The city is relaxed and the locals are warm and welcoming. A lot of people speak English so getting around or asking questions doesn’t pose a problem. This is because their educational system allows them to study English and any other language.

Getting to the city center from the airport is hassle free. There is a shuttle bus at arrival and it is about a 30 minute ride. You can also request an Uber ride if you are really tired or you arrive very late and want to get to your accommodation faster. I have paid 95 HRK (Croatian Kuna) which is approximately €13 from the airport to my accommodation at the city center.

Zagreb has an efficient transport system and you can take a bus or a tram to get anywhere within the city limits conveniently. They also have the Zagreb pass which gives you access to all public transport with free or cheaper entrance into tourist attractions including museums. A 24 hour card costs 60 kn which is roughly about €8. That’s a give away if you ask me, especially if you want to see a lot in one day, considering the sun doesn’t set until 9pm in the summer.

Zagreb is a safe city but It is always important to watch out for pick pockets as this is very common all over Europe and try to avoid very lonely places in the parks or the suburbs at night especially when it is dark.

The Lower Town or Donji Grad is Zagreb’s city center with the Ban Josip Jelačić square as it’s bustling center. Most hotels are also found at the lower town as well as the main shopping street Ilica, where you can find both Croatian and international brands.

Wait!!! My favorite part, Zagreb has free WiFi in most tourist areas, how cool is that! You can live record your experiences, post photos and not have to worry about internet data.

The lower town also boasts of an exciting night life and you can treat yourself to bars, restaurants and even night clubs. Even at 11pm, it is still busy and you have bar hoppers drunk singing, lovers holding hands, foodies getting their late night groove and the dog walkers going about their business.

Tkalčićeva street is popular for bars and wine and there’s an interesting bar on the street called “Confusion bar”. Right now I am confused and turning around in circles as confusion bar has me really confused because trying to find the location of All Saints restaurant which I have now realized is up the stairs inside confusion bar. This is truly confusing lol.

The Lower Town has some interesting attractions such as the Zagreb 360 observation deck, The Technical museum which focuses on science and technology and displays works of Nikola Tesla, the Croatian National theater which has been in existence since 1895, the Gric tunnel which was once used as a bomb shelter during World War II and is now a pedestrian tunnel, to mention but a few.

To get to the Upper town or the Gornji Grad, you can either walk from the city center but where is the fun in that when you can ride the world’s shortest funicular opened in 1890, on a 66 seconds journey up town. The ride cost 8kn one way which is €1.10 and I don’t suggest getting 2-way because you somehow find your way back in the Lower Town without even realizing it.

Up the funicular and you have an amazing view of the city and the Lotrščak Tower which blasts a cannon daily to signify its noon. It is so peaceful up here… Of course there are people and lots of tourists but it has such a calm and quiet vibe to it compared to the Donji Grad.

Now I am going to explore the Upper town which holds most of the historical sites and museums, beginning with the Museum of broken relationships which costs 40kn to get an entry ticket. This museum collects and displays personal effects of former lovers all over the world, with a brief write up on the objects. It is quite interesting and sad to me at the same time. I never really understand how one moment we are so in love and the next moment we can’t stand each other. This will always remain a mystery to me.

The museum also has an interesting website;

Before I lose my appetite from all the sad synopses, I am heading to my next historical stop, St. Mark’s Square, which also proudly houses the St. Mark Church with its uniquely designed roof.

What I am loving most about touring the city on my own right now is there are arrows pointing in the direction of the tourist attractions everywhere you go which makes it really easy to navigate whether or not you have a defined destination or it’s just freestyle movement.

I’m walking to the stone gate which according to my online research (thank God for free WiFi) is a 13th century stone gate with a Virgin Mary shrine where people stop to pray. Looking at it right now and yes people do stop to light candles and pray at the shrine. Well the gate no longer looks like a stone gate as a face lift was given to it in the 18th century. Since I am doing my exploring without a tour guide, I research my history on the go. Located on the exit of the stone gate is a statue of St. George paying tribute to a slain dragon. What I like about this statue is the green around it especially how the grass envelopes the building behind the statue. I really want to know what that building is but I am out of luck so if you find out, let me know in the comment section.

As i walk pass the statue, I approach Dolac Market. Dolac Market is Zagreb’s main market where farmers, florists and several different merchants sell the fresh produce and hand-made goods. It has been in use since 1926 and you will find a lot of locals here. A little birdy told me it is also the best place to sample authentic Croatian delicacies like Kotlovina and Štrukli, Zagreb’s signature dish which has many variations.

My next stop is Kaptol where I found the tallest building in Croatia, the Cathedral of Zagreb. In front of it is a fountain with the statue of Virgin Mary and 4 angels. The current Cathedral was opened in 1906 but is not original as the original structure was damaged during the Tartar attack and then the great fire in the 13th century. It was also severely damaged by an earthquake in 1880 and was later restored to what we see today in 1906. Interesting to also note is that its organ is said to be among the top ten finest organs in the world.

What all this walking does to me is get me really hungry. Yea Yea fitfam, but what’s a cityscape without food. I am heading to Kaptolska Klet for a nice meal to reward myself for this solo tour.

The ambience is nice and cozy and I am ordering a duck breast in Prosecco sauce. The food tastes as good as it looks and I’m quite satisfied with my meal. Time to head back to the lower town.

I am in the mood for dessert but I decide I want something outside the restaurant so I proceed to find a dessert cafe.

Voilà!!! Vincek, a dessert cafe on Ilica with a lot to pick from their cakes, cookies, ice cream and my favorites, macarons. I am settling for a scoop of Plazma (a Serbian biscuit) flavor ice cream (need to watch that waist line still). It’s as yummy as Lotus which is also one of my favorite ice cream or tiramisu flavors and of course the biscuit goes great with tea or coffee.

I am walking in the lower town to find me a grocery store and I come across the metrological post at the Nikola Šubić Zrinski park and square. The metrological post was built in 1884 where the citizens back then can get information related to weather, temperature, etc. Imagine having only one spot that can provide information on weather conditions – boy am I lucky to be in this century.

It has been a lovely experience but I am tired and I have an early day tomorrow to explore Ljubljana in Slovenia.

Until next adventure.

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