Mega trip 2014: Part 7, Zagreb – the capital of Croatia

I didn’t know what to expect from Zagreb. Is it like a western Belgrad? Or like a southern Budapest? I didn’t know the answer. But when I saw this city I liked it.

Zagreb is located on the edge between a walley and mountains. An area on the map just north of Zagreb raised my atention and I decided to hike there just after coming to the city.

We arrived at the time of evening rush-hour, so it was even more tempting to get some food as fast as possible and to go hiking. Unfortunately we ended up with ćevapčići for the dinner. They can be regarded as a local food (actually they come from Bosnia), but represent fat and fried pieces of meat, which cause more health damage that happyness.

Outside of the center these nice old Tatra trams can be seen.

On our way we had to change to another line, which is a must-see for all tram addicts. It goes throught the countryside-looking neighborhoud and it’s served with even older Tatra trams.

Just a hundred of meters from the end station of the route there is another jewel – an old railroad tonnel, converted to bicycle and pedestrian way.

From the same place you can start touring across the Croatia.

Our plans were more modest :) We just decided to go until Strmopeć peak, located at 513 meters.

This sign is a standard marking for hiking paths in Croatia.

Needless to say that Maxim was excited with the mountain biking opportunities of the area.

When a cycling buddy is forced for some reason to walk, nothing can prevent him from imagining cycling and telling others how to properly pass this turn :)

I expected a splendid view over the entire Zagreb from that point, but you can see only forest. Anyway, hiking in Podsljeme area is worth doing it.

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Coming back to the city it’s hard to miss Trg bana Josipa Jelačića. It’s a wonderful square, with many tram lines intersecting there, full of people and surrounded by nice buildings.

Josip Jelačić looking over free Croatia. During his rule the abolition of serfdom happened in the country.

There are a couple of cozy pedestrian streets near Trg bana Josipa Jelačića (Ulica Pavla Radića, Ulica Ivana Tkalčića), where I was enchanted by the night life on Friday and where we had a HUGE lunch on Saturday. Ask for the size of the dish before you order something in Croatia!

Up from the square there is an impressive cathedral. We were in Zagreb just before the Easter and there were considerable queues for confession.

It seems that there are many places to visit in Zagreb.

We visited the Museum of Broken Hearts. Maxim didn’t like it and I liked it very much. What can be more interesting than reading other people’s love stories? They are so different, sometimes so bitter.

Here is the story of this caterpillar:

“I had this big, truly big love, a long-distance relationship, Sarajevo – Zagreb. It lasted for 20 months. Of course, we dreamt for a life together and with that in mind I bought this huge caterpillar. Every time we would see each other we would tear off one leg. When we ran out of legs to tear, that would be the time to start a life together. But, naturally, as is often the case with great loves, the relatioship broke and so the caterpillar did not become a complete invalid after all”.

The main street, Ilica, is nearly car-free at its beginning and therefore a nice place to walk.

Sometimes an inner yard with a character of its own tempts to stop a little bit and come inside.

There is a net of nice and green boulevards in the center as well. And some splendid buildings too.

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Zagreb and Croatia in general are clean places, people don’t stand the garbage. But they tolerate without any problem something that can be called carelessness about buildings. While most of the buildings are ok, some of them have a fleur of decay. This is also an important part of Zagreb.

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Zagreb is a not city with much order. It’s a little bit chaotic, bicycles and pedestrians are still not provided with good facilities. In some streets cars are the kings.

But comparing with rest of Croatia Zagreb it’s still a gem.

The area around Trg bana Josipa Jelačića is almost free of cars. Parking is still wild, but there are some nice exceptions like this one (notice unloading work done on the road, not on the expense of pedestrians).

It seems that some of the tram lines were rebuilt during recent years and this was a success.

Zagreb proves that public works can be done without cars.

Something is definitely happening in Zagreb and there are already people who know how to build a better city.

Some bicycle lanes are still looking like a joke.

Others are a little bit better.

But people (and dogs) keep cycling in Zagreb and this is nice!

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And in the end.

Perhaps not much with such a price for the vodka :)

Last glance to the mountains and our little trip to Zagreb is over.

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Part 6 can be found here.

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