Ok let’s be honest … How many people do you know have been to Croatia while visiting Europe?
LIA : I will tell you the truth, I never thought to visit Croatia if it wasn’t for my friend Luciane. She is my Brazilian friend, who acted like a bridge for us to visit Zagreb.
During the summer of 2009 we got our luggage ready for Europe and Zagreb was officially on the itinerary. We would visit for 4 days !
What a surprise! Zagreb is a really cozy city with lots of history. It’s a cute Old city that is now clean and renovated since their last war. When we went, we noticed some graffiti in some areas that hadn’t been cleaned yet. Also, my friend talked about the ringing of the bells in the morning which was linked to the recent war - not sure we understood its significance 100%. Zagreb normally has great weather during July and it’s all more enjoyable with warm and really friendly people! On the plus side, it’s an affordable city compared to other cities in Europe.
The amazing part to travel with a connection in the city/country is that they give us opportunity to do what locals usually do. Often we don’t bother taking the bus or venture in certain areas for fear of getting lost or not knowing if we are in a safe area. While in Zagreb, we were able to catch the local bus and taxis as we pleased (she was living around 15 minutes by bus from the city).
The bus stopped in front of the Cathedral of Zagreb which was our starting point. At the time, the Cathedral was undergoing some renovations which meant we couldn’t go inside. We still managed to around and enjoy the beautiful Mary statue in front of the Cathedral.
We continued our tour of the city of Zagreb with the Ban Josip Jelacid square which is a must see for anyone who is visiting Zagreb. Then we walked to the Park Zrinjevac which is a beautiful square with a cute Gazebo for the Promenade Concerts. I tell you, the city is really pleasant to visit and really well maintained with colorful flowers. It is also really resourceful with the nice clock and information about the geography and city weather.
Another great spot to visit by foot is in the Old city of Zagreb, Skalinska street to be precise. The street is surrounded with (newly renovated) what seems to be many miles of old medieval buildings and lots of pubs and restaurants with terraces. We were fortunate to experience eating on a terrace at restaurant Agava. What I recall is the steps to go up, which meant a really nice view of the street from up top. The restaurant has a great rating until today. Try this place when you are around, you will certainly enjoy the cute outside terraces to sit and one of the best most affordable meals in Europe.
We had a great time there and it was fun trying to survive with the local language. We received help from my (Lia’s) friend on how to get around but when we had to manage by ourselves, we hoped we were understood. At some point we tried to buy a simple ice-cream and believe me, it was not easy ! hahahahaha
The official language in Croatia is of course Croatian. For us sounded as mix of Latin & Greek. In essence it contains many words of Latin and German origin but many new Croatian words are created by combining and adapting existing ones. It is a South Slavic language spoken mainly in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Serbian province of Vulvodynia and their neighboring countries by about 5.5 million people.
To finalize our amazing Croatian adventure our friend took us to visit the splendid natural “Plitvice Lakes National Park”. It represents one of Croatia’s natural wonders. We were completely surprised and it was probably better that way. We didn't have any expectations and were quite pleased as a result. Just go and take our word for it !
We totally recommend Croatia as destination. If we had another opportunity we would include Croatia to continue to explore their beaches, cities and culture. Just googling natural wonders Croatia gives me the itch to visit again !
Zagreb is a small city. During the summer you could run into issues finding a rental car (as we did). Be sure to plan ahead and book a car before you leave.
Another solution is to take the train to Slovenia and from there rent a car. That was our solution actually. Looks crazy but the view from the traveling between Croatia and Slovenia paid off ! Amazing ! 🙂[cvmh-sticky]