Saturday, June 7, 2014

Zagreb

June 3rd - Our last morning in Piran, Slovenia – we found the local bus to Koper, and then took a bus back to Ljubljana to catch a train to Zagreb, Croatia. All our connections worked smoothly – yeah! We booked an airbnb in Zagreb that was within easy walking distance of both the train station and the bus station. It was a great apartment with coffee and tea and shampoo and conditioner – little perks we have missed while traveling here.


After settling in and perking up with a cup of coffee, we headed toward the old part of Zagreb which is divided into Upper Town (originally the religious area surrounding the Cathedral) and Lower Town (originally the more secular area). 

Zagreb is both the capitol and largest city in Croatia with 800,000 people. While it is 90% Croatian, and super Catholic, there are more and more immigrants settling here as well according to Wikipedia. We are beginning to get a better feel for the break up of Yugoslavia as we travel, but still have a very incomplete understanding of it and the impact on the people. Reading the history of any place in Europe often seems like a constant changing of the guards - who is control at any point in time - and is overwhelming. When that change is as recent as the early 1990's, it is surreal.

Zagreb appears thriving to be thriving in the historic part of town, but other parts show signs of neglect. It is overall in worse economic shape than Slovenia.

Mindy and the Egg
We started in Upper Town and caught the sun setting on the cathedra. Note that one of the towers is being renovated.
Cathedral - note the clever drape over the renovation area
We found a place for dinner and had goulash. It was good but not as spicy as we imagined it would be, or as spicy as we would have made it. Maybe we need to cross the border into Hungary and pick up some paprika! But, after dinner as we walked to our airbnb, we came across a dessert festival. We chose a dessert to share and it was some magical combination of a German chocolate cake and a pecan pie!

Entrance to Dessert Paradise!
I went out the next morning looking for some sights we had missed. Including one that was just hiding behind the tent above at the dessert festival - a meteorological post that has been here since 1889, showing temperature, air pressure and time.

Meteorological Post
I also found St. Marks - a Romanesque church dating from the 13th century, but sporting a new roof from the 19th century. Most churches have features from different time periods as they get renovated over and over again.

St. Marks sporting a new roof
I toured the Museum of Broken Relationships, which began in Croatia, but now has mementoes from all over the world recording the demise of relationships. People have sent a symbol from their relationship along with some notes about it. They can't display all of them but have a huge variety from losing someone to war, another person, changing times. They also document parent-child relationships that ended and some of those were the most painful to read. Overall, though, the museum was more cathartic than depressing. The gift shop had pillow case sets that zipped together. So you could have the two pillows apart or together - whatever worked for you at the time!

Happier Museum than you might guess!
Our stay in Zagreb was short, so I can't give a solid impression of the city. We are off to Dubrovnik in the far south of Croatia next...

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