That is, I’m assured by Google Translate, ‘hello’ in Croatian – and since no-one has attacked me so far for using it I’m going to assume that they’ve not screwed up.
Since I’m (eventually) joining a roadtrip started by a couple of very contrary people it only makes sense to join in the fun so things began in suitable fashion by eschewing the recommendation to arrive at the airport two hours before my flight in favour of about half that time. After all, airport termini are tediously dull places. In the end, thanks to my procrastination in leaving home and the slowness of the Piccadilly Line, I arrived less than 30mins before scheduled departure. Just about enough time to subject myself to the inevitable security theatre, visit the ladies and call the necessary banks to let them know I’d be using my cards in foreign places so please don’t decide to cancel them on me.
“When are you leaving the country, Ma’am?”
“In about 15 mins.”
To get a better flavour of the place I’d chosen to participate in what everyone but Frances refers to as the ‘sharing economy’ and found myself a room via AirBnB in what turned out to be the area referred to by the locals as the lower town. Certainly none of the buildings in the area could be described as new and the exteriors where often quite shabby and decorated at the lower levels with graffiti. My room (and the apartment in which it was located) was though perfectly acceptable given that all I wanted was a place to sleep.
Armed with a map and a few suggestions on places to visit (and eat at) from my hostess I set out to explore the city. The goal was to wander around and pop my head through the door of anywhere that seemed interesting.
This turned out to involve looking around the Archeological Museum, including admiring the somewhat out-of-place 3D printer amongst the Copper Age exhibits that was pumping out replicas of one of the pieces for sale in the shop; admiring the architecture of the cathedral; spotting what I assume to be the local equivalent of blue plaque for Nikola Tesla; and the Museum of Broken Relationships – a home for those pieces that remind you too much of former relationships (family or romantic), good or bad.
Dinner (and this has to be mentioned given that the gastronomes I’ll be joining up with have barely written about anything else) was in a place that was certainly popular with the locals – something which I always take to be a good sign. Unlike them, I chose not to troll someone who will remain nameless (waves at Andy) by taking pictures of each course but I will say that both the pastry stuffed with cottage cheese which I started with and the slow cooked veal which followed it were absolutely lovely.
Thursday dawned cold and wet so, in the absence of all common sense, I went for a walk around the Botanical Gardens. Since I know about as much about flora as I do about art, this didn’t involve a lot of stopping to admire particular plants – but since none of them are in flower yet there wasn’t a lot to admire.
A bit of research had unearthed the fact that Zagreb apparently has a mushroom museum so I decided that was a quirky enough to warrant a visit once I’d had breakfast (croissants and a hot chocolate that was more melted chocolate than warm milk and cocoa powder) seen the cathedral on daylight and been inside. Sadly I didn’t manage to find it, even having looked it up on Google Maps and asked at the local tourist information office. Instead I depressed myself by wandering around the Torture Museum and its reminder that sometimes all that has changed is that we’ve become more sophisticated in our methods of inflicting violence upon our fellow ape descendants…
Next stop: Split.