Zagreb? What’s not to love? Who wouldn’t love a city that has not only a Museum of Broken Relationships but also a Mushroom Museum? Of course, there are many standard museums as well as beautiful architecture, churches, and friendly people.
To reach Zagreb from Budapest, we opted to take a FlixBus as opposed to a train. The train trip was problematic; none of the schedules worked for us. We could leave in the afternoon and arrive late at night (a 6 hour jaunt), or leave in the morning and arrive 12 hours later. The bus only took about 4 and a half hours.
Although Croatia is an EU country, it is not part of the Schengen Agreement. Because of this, we had to stop at the border. Our passports were checked by a border guard as we exited the bus. We then had to wait about 20 minutes for all of the passports to be scanned before we could get our passports back and continue on our way. On the upside, it gave us a chance to use the toilet. There is a toilet on the bus, but most people preferred the opportunity to use a land-based unit.
When we arrived at the bus station, our usual taxi apps did not work. So, we used Uber instead. It only took one minute for our driver to arrive. For around $5 we were whisked from the bus station to our hotel; about a 15 minute ride.
We stayed at the Hotel Dubrovnik which has an excellent location and very nice rooms. We were pleased with everything about our stay there. It is located on a pedestrian avenue so you do need to be able to walk about 50 meters with your luggage, but I did not see any other hotels that were as centrally located. The breakfast buffet there is outstanding.
We only stayed in Dubrovnik a short time. We arrived on a Sunday afternoon and left Tuesday morning, so really just had Sunday evening and Monday to sightsee. Originally, we had planned on doing a walking tour, but after walking around town on our own on Sunday night, discovered that a walking tour would be unnecessary; this is a very compact city. I suppose I would’ve learned more about the history of the city if we had done the tour, but we really liked the flexibility of seeing the town at our own pace.
A couple of things that make Zagreb tourist-friendly, compared to other European cities we have visited recently, are that many people here speak English, and credit cards are widely accepted. We still picked up some local currency at the bus station; after our experience in Rotterdam last September, we will never again take the chance of not having cash on hand!
There are cafes everywhere. I don’t know if there are traditional Croatian dishes that we missed, but the menus are very meat-centric. Lots of steaks, sausages, and the like. Everywhere we have been in Eastern Europe has been like this; a carnivore’s dream! I love how this cafe lines up their chairs; easy people-watching here!
Mainly, we just walked and walked to see what we could see. One unique feature Zagreb has is that there are tunnels underground that you can walk through. These were originally built as a bomb shelter during WWII. After the war, it fell into disrepair. It was used for one of Croatia’s first raves during the 1990’s and was used again as a shelter during the Croatian War of Independence. Now, it is a tourist attraction. As we walked through, we were accompanied by a security guard. I don’t think we looked that suspicious! We exited the tunnel into an Art Park.
Much of the tourist activity here is center around Ban Jelačić Square, where there is a most excellent horse statue. Supposedly, the Mushroom Museum was located here as well, but I could not locate it. I followed the directions on Google Maps but ended up in front of a hamburger restaurant. Perhaps the fungi museum is no longer functional.
We stumbled upon a market in the early morning hours. Locals were shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables but there were also some souvenir stands setting up for the day.
Like every other city, Zagreb has a spectacular cathedral. This one is being renovated. It was struck by an earthquake in 1880 and there has also been some natural erosion. Renovations were started in the 20th century but stopped when the Communists took over. Now, the renovations can be continued.
This lovely building is the Croatian National Theater. There are several museums located nearby.
Tesla is a Croatian native son and is represented in artwork around the city.
After walking for several hours, we returned briefly to our hotel room. We could hear the sounds of shouting and sirens outside. I stuck my head out the window but couldn’t see what the fuss was about. I looked up on-line to see if I could find out what was going on and found out that 18 bus-loads of shipyard workers had been brought in to the city for a planned protest. Naturally, we had to go out to observe! The protest started in Ban Jelačić Square and we were able to see the workers parade through the square and up the street. They were chanting and blowing whistles. We had thought that the sirens we heard might be police rushing to the scene, but it turns out that the sound was coming from the protestors themselves. There were a few police at the back of the group but they weren’t too concerned; it started and ended as a peaceful protest.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in this charming city. Part of what made it so enjoyable was that we finally caught a break in the weather! The temperature stayed in the low to mid-70’s which is absolutely perfect for walking around. Sometime in the future, I would love to visit the coast of Croatia, which is supposed to be lovely. Zagreb is one of our favorite places we have visited on this trip.