Monday, October 6, 2014

Zagreb - the unappreciated city

If you ask anyone what kind of picture appears in their mind when you say Croatia, it will probably be an overwhelming response of "beaches and diving". You may also get a response about Plitvice Lakes. However, Zagreb has none of these and it is over 2 hours from the coast. Wait right there though and don't write off this city just yet, because it really is worth a visit and is a perfect base for exploring the surrounding countries.

Prior to going to Zagreb, I had visited the most tourist trodden places in Croatia. Dubrovnik, Split and Plitvice. The prices in these places were sky high and I didn't get a chance to say a word in Croatian because everyone automatically spoke English to me. When I went to Zagreb, people weren't fluent in English everywhere I went and I actually had to learn to say thank you in Croatian! The restaurants and general cost of everything was much cheaper, and I felt like I had arrived in "real" Croatia.

Although Zagreb isn't a hot spot for any particular attractions there is still quite a lot of interesting things to do and see. Walking through the city's old town is lovely, with banana coloured buildings and the architecture and atmosphere reminiscent of Paris, Budapest and Helsinki all in one.

St Marks Church is worth a look, with its brightly tiled roof or you can visit Dolac Market for a massive variety of fresh fruit and veggies. If you head down the escalators on the edge of of the market you will end up in the fresh meat section. Here you can also buy some other bits and pieces as well as try Cvarci. This is a variant of pork rind, and although not my cup of tea, definitely worth a try.

There are some very intriguing museums in Zagreb, including the Museum of Broken Relationships. It houses a collection of items from around the world with stories about the owners relationships and eventual break-up. Or if that's not quirky enough for you, you can always visit the Olive Oil Gallery.

If you think you have seen everything in Zagreb itself, you can head out to visit some neighbouring countries. After a 40 minute drive you will find yourself in Slovenia, and an hour after that you can be in the capital city, Ljubljana.

Or if you want to head to Hungary it's only about 1 1/4 hours to the border, and under 3 1/2 hours to Budapest. If both these options are way too mainstream for you, you can hop over to Serbia 3 1/2 hours.

Zagreb was one of my favourite places in Croatia, and definitely worth a visit. Although not visited as much as other places in Croatia, that's what makes it so much more authentic and special.

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