Having never been to Croatia or anywhere similar, I had quite a crude idea of what it was it going to be like.
Whatever that initial idea was, it was wrong. The days we spent in Croatia were some of the most charming, beautiful and interesting I’ve ever had while travelling before. It’s one of those places that makes you feel at home from the moment you step off the plane. At least, that was how Hamilton and I felt.
From what our friends had said, our route (from Zagreb – Plitvice – Split – Hvar – Dubrovnik) would take us from our least to most favourite places, hence I was expecting Zagreb to be, well, a bit disappointing. Again, I was wrong. All my expectations did was augment the speed at which I fell in love with the place.
All of the places we visited had a different appeal; Zagreb’s was that it felt like somewhere I could see myself living – I could move there tomorrow and be incredibly content. This is in part because it’s not very touristy, walking around there isn’t anyone trying to shove tours or trips in your face, in fact, everyone just gets on with their day.
We did our best to draw as little attention to ourselves as possible, but were let down by our intolerance to the weather. Aka, it was hot. We’re British: we are not used to hot. All I brought with me was one pair of shorts and one pair of ripped jeans (as well as tops and dresses), so most of the time I wore shorts. Most people there were in coats. Every morning we’d look out the window and wonder what temperature it was, see people in coats and expect cold. In reality, we would get outside and immediately be overcome with heat, want to lie on the ground and take off our jumpers – which is exactly what we did.
It was only late April, so it wasn’t even maximum temperatures at any stretch. But considering the weather in England at the time, we didn’t fare too well. Though in earnest, we did spend every day walking around (according to my fitbit we tended to walk an average of 10k a day).
Needless to say, people stared at our bare legs in confusion and bewilderment, pretty much everywhere we went. They knew we didn’t belong as soon as they saw the shorts.
Getting back to the matter at hand… Zagreb!
We got an early flight to Zagreb, and were there by midday to check into our hostel (Funk Lounge – we were sold at ‘Funk’). We got a bus and then a tram there – both were easy and took us about an hour from the airport. The hostel was great – everyone was really friendly, we were given a room to ourselves with two bunk beds because it was quiet, and there were some hammocks to lay in.
We only had two days in Zagreb, so we slung our bags into the room and went straight out. It was about a half an hour walk to the city centre, then we grabbed a drink and went to the city museum. To get to the city museum, you have to walk up a lot of steps. In fact, to get to anywhere in Croatia, you have to walk up a lot of steps. We realised this quickly and soon had water on us at all times.
The city museum lady told us we were students when we arrived, so we only paid about £1.50/£2 to go in – all the museums are pretty inexpensive in Croatia in comparison to England, so you can see and do loads even if you’re on a budget.
It doesn’t look like much when you first get there, but you can just keep walking and walking through the city museum. It’s legit like walking through history. Especially as you’re actually allowed to touch stuff – or at least, no one told us off for touching stuff. There were huge gates and sculptures from old churches and palaces that had been lost during the war, as well as memorabilia from royalty, politics, television, theatres… even hundreds of bottles and cans of things that were made in Zagreb. And we only ever saw two other visitors in the whole place.
After this we had some lunch (pizza, of course – Croatian pizza is a rival to Italian, and there appears to be a fair amount of debate on the subject. ((We liked both)), wandered around and found some churches/other sights, then went to the Museum of Broken Relationships.
We both thought that it was going to be a slightly comical museum. Just a place filled with weird things that their ex’s had left behind and they didn’t know what to do with.
Not the case. I left the museum slightly broken, but also with a smile on my face. It was all round pretty emotional.
Each item in the museum had a story to accompany it. Some were comical – our favourite was a toaster with a description that pretty much said “How are you going to toast things now eh?” But others were heartfelt stories of long lost loves, not only boyfriends and girlfriends, but also siblings and parents. Some I couldn’t finish reading because tears were pouring out of my eyes.
It was a brilliant idea for a museum and extremely well executed. We left a bit open mouthed when we walked out, though neither of us knew quite what to say. It doesn’t take that long to go round, but honestly, it’s quite emotionally heavy so that amount of time is enough. Definitely worth a visit. Or two.
After this and travelling however many thousands of miles, we were both physically and emotionally knackered, so after some food, we wandered back to our hostel, jumped into our (top) bunks and went to sleep.
Zagreb is quite big, but it didn’t take us too long to make our way round the key parts of the city centre. Thus, on day two, we went further afield… (tbc in next blog post)
Abi and Hamilton
*This post is written retrospectively – the trip took place in April/May 2015, hence some information may be out dated.