We had a short and early morning train to Zagreb. We found our hotel mid-morning, a quick five-minute walk from the train station. And we soon after discovered that the rest of Zagreb was just as walkable.
I wasn’t expecting much from Zagreb, given that Croatia is mostly a coastal country and that’s where the tourism lies (Zagrab is about two hours inland and not a popular tourist city). But it was a convenient stop on the train route and broke up a much longer trip, so we opted for a one-night visit.
And I have been IMPRESSED! Zagreb is very cute and mostly accessible with almost 100% modern sidewalks (aside from a few side streets still covered in cobblestone). There is a large hill on the edge of town, where we took another funicular up to the top of the hill. Here we started our exploration at the Museum of Broken Relationships. It is, I must say, one of the most interesting museums I’ve been too. It’s filled with items that people have sent in over the years in remembrance of a past (broken) relationship. There were stuffed animals, and shoes, and figurines, and bicycles, and letters…you name it, even some of the most oddball things, and it is probably there. It was a sad, humorous, and moving experience. I do think it is an excellent concept though – if you have something you’re hanging onto from a past relationship that you just don’t want anymore, but can’t bear to throw away, think about sending it to the Museum of Broken Relationships. Then it will have a home with all of the other broken relationship memorabilia…
As we spent the next few hours walking around the city and down the giant hill, stopping for some hot wine and tiramisu, we began to notice that the city was filled with love. There were hearts hanging from the sky, and restaurants dedicated to love. The whole city was surrounded in romance. We still don’t know why, but it was a very clear theme.
The hotel receptionist had told us that Zagreb is essentially one giant Christmas festival around this time of year, and he wasn’t joking! In fact, they’ve won an award in past years for the most festive city in the world. Every street was lined with vendors serving drinks and snacks and selling gifts and decorations. The sidewalks were packed with people shopping and eating. The restaurants had tables with heaters surrounding them, pouring into the streets; there wasn’t enough room inside to serve all of their customers. And unlike our experience in very cold Ljubljana, we found ourselves seated by an open fire on the street in Zagreb, sipping on local beer and eating risotto.
The people in Zagreb have been incredibly helpful, especially when it comes to finding accessible options. In addition, I have found their English to be impeccable! Tony had commented on the hotel receptionist’s (who was probably 18 or 19) English and asked if he had spent time learning it in The States (it was accent free and the grammar was perfect). He said, “No. I just watched a lot of Cartoon Network growing up.” It’s a realization that the world really is a small place, and children all over the world are smiling and connecting in a unique way.
Please feel free to read Tony’s perspective of our trip at http://www.whereistony.com.