Love and Mourning in Zagreb

This will be the last post about our Croatian honeymoon in 2010.  I’m almost wistful about this.  It’s been so nice reliving the trip.

Pete and I had the good fortune of arriving in Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb, in time for All Souls’ Day.  We found out about this while waiting for a bus in Plitvice, when a park employee let us know that the next few days in the capital would likely be very busy due to the holiday.  This information would come in handy.

When we arrived in Zagreb we walked from the bus terminal to the train station (it’s a long story) and we were greeted by this amazing sign.

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Croats do not appreciate handguns or ice cream on their trains.  They are serious about this.

We spent a night in a hotel near Zagreb’s downtown core and the next morning we wandered into the city centre.  It was a stunning, sunny, 15-degree day.  This was such a relief after our chilly few days in Plitvice.

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We were told by the man in Plitvice that the Dolac fruit and vegetable market would be full of people buying flowers for their departed loved ones.  Everyone in Zagreb would then travel to Mirogoj cemetery, north of the city, to pay their respects together.

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We were also told that we should absolutely visit Mirogoj cemetery, which is often called the most beautiful in Europe, but that we should be prepared to walk, since the buses would be packed.  Again, invaluable advice.  There were long lineups for all the buses, which were all crammed full of people clutching flowers and candles.

So we walked there and we were not disappointed.  Mirogoj cemetery is breathtaking.

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It was also a much more celebratory atmosphere than what we had been expecting.  People were milling about, talking together, buying items to lay on gravestones and eating roasted chestnuts.  They were taking pictures, and even having picnics and lunches among the graves.

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In all, we spent three days exploring Zagreb.  Both of us were completely taken with it.  I’ve been to a lot of European capitals, and so has Pete.  Zagreb has a lot going for it.  It has a lot of what we were looking for in a European city without being enormous or completely crowded with tourists.

It has a gorgeous town square.

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It has a clean, efficient transit system.  In fact, tram rides within the city centre are free.

It has beautiful achitecture reminiscent of what you would find in Vienna.*

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It has an impressive art gallery, with a collection donated to the city by a very, very wealthy benefactor.

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A benefactor who had this incredibly creepy death mask made of himself.

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It has beautiful parks with equestrian statues.  There are a lot of really gorgeous green spaces that we really enjoyed, especially after being so cold for the previous few days.

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Zagreb also boasts St. Mark’s Church, a 13th century building with Zagreb’s coat of arms on its roof.

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And, nearby, there is the Museum of Broken Relationships.  A perfect place to visit on a honeymoon!

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Also, there are these impressive mutton chops.

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The world’s shortest funicular.

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Nikola Tesla.  I’m so sorry, Croatia, that I always thought Tesla was Czech.

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Europe’s tiniest bathroom.

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And last but not least, giant, delicious kebabs.

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So, Pete and I spent our last day soaking in these sights and wishing we had booked a longer honeymoon.  A week is definitely not enough time.

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We were thrilled to discover, after a few days of terrible food in the nearly-abandoned hotel we stayed at in Plitvice, a great little brew-pub in Zagreb’s old town.  If I could remember its name, I would share it with you.  But I can’t, for the life of me, remember what it was called.  I do know that it was on Tkalčićeva street, which is a very charming and chic part of town.  They had good food, at a very reasonable price, and their beer was so, so good.

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We ate there a few times, and made sure we sampled all their varieties of beer.  Just to be thorough.

On our last night, in a mostly empty restaurant near the airport, we drank mistletoe rakija and toasted to a wonderful trip.  If you ever get the chance to go to Croatia, then absolutely go.  But maybe skip the mistletoe rakija.

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*Please note: I know nothing about architecture.

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4 thoughts on “Love and Mourning in Zagreb

  1. No ice cream in Zagreb…got it. Those pictures are breathtaking. What a wonderful experience that you had.

    Stopping by from SITS

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