This is a guest post by Peggy, Della’s mom, who joined us, along with Wayne, for 14 days in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia Herzegovina.
On September 13, two trains converged on Zagreb, the capitol of Croatia. One, coming from Hungary, carried Della and Eric. The other came from Vienna and carried Peggy and Wayne. Both train rides ended up including one bus segment and a change of train due to washouts of the tracks.
Peg and Wayne were thrilled when they found Della and Eric waiting for them at the train station close to midnight. It was a happy reunion.
The next day, we started our exploration of Zagreb in a park just south of Jelacic square. We stumbled onto some pan-Slavic festival with music and dance. Best of all there were booths representing regions /ethnic groups, each offering small plates of food or drink, all for free! We gathered this was a once a year event. The only bad thing was it poured rain much of the time.
From there, we embarked on a self guided walking tour, learning as we went from Rick Steves, well read by Eric. We started in Gradec, one of 2 medieval villages that combined to form Zagreb. The thing you see in all the guide books is St. Mark’s church with a great tile roof incorporating decorations including the Zagreb seal.
We were happy to find the Mestrovic Atelier open. Our guide book said it would be closed for restoration. Mestrovic was a prolific sculptor whose works remind you of Rodin. He spent the end of his life in the US having fled Tito’s Yugoslavia. Peg especially loved his weird John the Baptist. His most famous work may be of Gregory of Nin, a bishop who was a hero to the Croatians. The huge statue is actually in Split, (which we saw later) it was mostly covered up undergoing extensive restoration.
Della and Eric decided to climb the Lotrščak tower for some good views of the city and St. Mark’s. Peg and Wayne waited at the bottom with a small cup of coffee.
We also went to the Museum of Broken Relationships. Someone had a good idea: Ask people for a personal story and a memento from some relationship that has ended. The stories were mostly about romantic love, but some stories touched on parent-child relationships. Almost all had universal appeal, some funny, many very touching. Several stories came from Coloradans.
We then went to the second medieval village called Kaptol. The main attraction was the Cathedral.
We finished up with traditional Croatian food, including venison.
Our big struggle the next day was figuring out how to get to our rental car. We had one reservation for the correct days, but it was 4 miles away and we couldn’t figure out any transit options. The other reservation was for wrong days but we could get to on the tram. We opted for the tram and luckily could change the days to match our needs.
One final note re transit. The old towns were pedestrian only. The main square had no cars but many, many trams running through.