ZAGREB IN YOUR POCKET
You have arrived in Zagreb and you don't know what to do because there aren't really many guide books available about the city? Then go to the tourist information at Jelacic Square and ask for a copy of "Zagreb in your Pocket". If you are lucky they have one and like this you get the best guide to sights, nightlife and restaurants for free. Sometimes they run out of copies though. To be on the safe side you can also read it online here: www.inyourpocket.com/croatia/city/zagreb.html
Lower Town Grandeur
Zagreb is full of the impressive architecture that old European capitals are known for, so why don't more people visit? Hmmm. I have no idea why it's not a more popular place. From the church steeples of the Upper Town to the Habsburg-era masterpieces of the Lower Town, Zagreb is blessed with great buildings. This is a photo of the Arts Pavilion (Umjetnicki paviljon) in Strossmayerov trg, a square between the train station and the city's main square, Trg bana Jelacica.
Enjoy the great open squares...
Enjoy the great open squares that make the big city seem more a town with a great relaxed feel. I have to admit that I had never heard of Zagreb, let alone had any desire to go there, but when I was planning my last trip to Slovenia and Poland, I wanted to stop in Budapest, and Zagreb lay right in between Ljubljana and the Hungarian capital. Add to this, a VT friend, Goran, willing to put me up for a few days and show me the sights, and it was again, an offer I could not refuse. I arrived in Zagreb at noon and it was a glorious sunny day. I wanted to just check my bag and go on a photo shoot but I had made plans to meet Goran and knew he would be waiting anxiously at the next station so I got on the next train like a good boy, all the time thinking I would get back into town the next day. After a long day of what seemed a waste of time to me but an integral part of what was transpiring there, we did not arrive until nightfall, too late for photos. We did however get to the local brewpub, which was surprisingly good. With VTer Lionel and his girlfriend, we enjoyed a great meal and countless beers but eventually, they took off to leave Goran and I to enjoy a few more and what turned out to be a crucial discussion in our friendship. I had debated on coming to Eastern Europe after the terrorist acts of September 11th, not because I feared for my life, but that I would not be able to voice my opinions without looking arrogant. There were certainly some anti-American sentiments concerning our intervention in Bosnia and it was pointed out to me on a number of occasions that perhaps the US “deserved” this as a payback for our attempted colonization of the world. Obviously, that did not sit well with me, but I held my tongue to avoid confrontation. Fact is, I never paid much attention to politics. All I do know is I never heard of Bosnia prior to the war there. I am sure that none of my friends had either. Not one of us would have okayed our government sending troops there. Most people in the US would rather spend our money closer to home, where we have our own homeless problem and people starving in the streets. After a few more beers, Goran was giving me a political science lesson on how the US had been strategically “taking over the world” and I politely listened as he scribbled notes for what seemed like hours on the back of his paper placemat. We grew more and more intoxicated with the homebrew and a neighboring table of South American exchange students’ loud conversing only made our discourse more forceful and eventually heated. Part of his theory was the forcing of everyone to speak English with our lack in trying to speak any other languages. I had felt more or less inadequate on that part the last few weeks after hanging out with countless people who were multi-lingual so this didn’t make me feel any better about it. Finally and surely directly related to the beers we had drunk, I could take no more. I went off on a tirade in pseudo Spanish, mustering all of my high school studies and a four-year-old trip to Chile, which centered on the size of my new professor’s “cabeza.” Goran was caught off guard with my newfound passion and excited ramblings. It was short-lived and soon we were back to our beers and laughing a bit about my silliness but in some ways, he never treated me quite the same. I think he finally realized that I had some ideas of my own too and that I would not just sit and listen intently to his without voicing them any longer and I think he respected that and me finally. We had gone beyond mere acquaintances and become friends. The next day, I gave in and went to Plitvicka Lakes instead of going to Zagreb and was happy I did. I stayed an extra day and went into Zagreb on my own to take some photos. It was not what I had planned but sometimes the plans made for you are even better than your own.
The Stately Architecture
Zagreb is a city of stately European architecture. It reminds me very much of Vienna and it is not surprising that Zagreb was part of the Hapsburg empire prior to Worl War I.
This impressive corner building is just northwest of the train station.
The parks of Zagreb are one of its finest assets, especially the parks that run from the main train station to the central Ban Jelanica Square. My particular favourite was this little enclosed park just off the main drag in Kaptol. It's so small it doesn't even have a name on most maps. Here you can sit in the silence and shade of the trees looking at the houses as they tumble down from Gradec up above.