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Croatia- Part 4: Zagreb

4.17.2014


This next morning we awoke & prepared for another long day on the bus as we made our way to the capital city, Zagreb.  We grabbed a quick breakfast & boarded the bus.  We said goodbye to the coast & headed inland, making our way across the Bosnian border again.  We made another pit stop in Neum, Bosnia where we worked to spend our last remaining kuna since we knew we would soon be heading to Slovenia where they use the Euro.  We made it to Zagreb just before dusk & arrived at our stunning hotel for the night, The Westin
I think it's safe to say this is the nicest, most luxurious hotel I'd ever set foot in, much less spent the night.  Perhaps this is why the tour company only arranged for us to have one night there?!?  Thanks to my research before leaving the States, I knew there was a LUSH in Zagreb.  Knowing the Croats tendency to close up shop early, I told Brad it was our first stop.  We checked in to our room & threw our bags down before we made an outright sprint down to the main square where we found my Mecca.  Imagine my surprise when we found it didn't close for another 3 hours!
such a happy camper
After loading up my bag with more goodies than would fit in my backpack, we made our way back onto the chilly streets to check out the city.  While I generally don't care for big cities (particularly capital cities) when traveling, I found Zagreb had so much to offer.  It wasn't the usual hustle & bustle, unfriendly big city one would encounter.  There were so many interesting parks & museums throughout our walk I wish we could have visited.  I was disappointed to know that we would be leaving the next afternoon after our walking tour.  As we walked we came across a small restaurant with a variety of sandwiches & salads.  After feasting on countless cured meats, cheeses, & breads, I informed Brad I was dying for some fruits & vegetables.  We settled into the small shop & enjoyed a delicious fresh meal.  The restaurant, Good Food, was 'fast food' & probably equivalent to a Quizno's back home but it was so good after all the carbs & meats we'd eaten!  After a bit more wandering through the crowded streets, we made our way back to the hotel for the night. 

The next morning we had breakfast in the lobby where I feasted on lox & fruits til my heart was content.  Afterwards we boarded the bus with a local guide.  Our trusty driver, Drajon (or as I liked to call him- Dragon), shuffled us around the streets while the local guide pointed out several buildings & parks.  Shortly thereafter, we left the bus & began wandering the streets of the city for several hours.  The guide started us off in the upper, more affluent part of the city before taking us down through the former red light district.  This area now houses several cute cafes & restaurants & is considered the place to be on the weekends. 
 
 
 
 
the tiled roof showcases the Croatian coat of arms & flag of Zagreb
a wall of prayers near a shrine to the Madonna
several of the prayers were thanking Mary for various blessings
"Hvala" means thank you in Croatian
the former red light district
It now houses several cafes where people gather on the weekends to socialize & catch up on the latest gossip.
We concluded the tour in the main square where we found yet another open air market.  This one was huge!  It covered several blocks in the city & had everything from produce to flowers to meats & cheeses to locally made goods.  It was spectacular.  I only wish Customs would have allowed me to bring all those goodies home!  After the tour concluded we had a bit of free time before meeting back at the bus to make our way to the next stop: Slovenia!
the market even had coolers set up for vendors to bring meats & cheeses
 
 
locally made honey & jellies
the main square
a model of Zagreb displayed in the main square
there were several street performers near the square
a beautiful cathedral overlooking the square
 
 Stay tuned for the conclusion of our journey: Slovenia



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