Apologies for the sparse updates in Croatia thus far. While things have been very good, work has been extremely demanding.
This update covers a Saturday in which we walked around the city and took in a few of the top sights. It was a self-guided walking tour on July 6.
We hopped on a bus/shuttle near our apartment. We learned after getting on that you can’t pay for a ticket on the bus. Thankfully the bus driver was friendly, didn’t mind at all, and waved us to the back. An older woman tried to explain that we needed to buy a card to do it.
We arrived at Groblje Mirogoj, considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in all of Europe. The cemetery is not affiliated with a specific church. Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, Latter Day Saints; irreligious graves can all be found there. For those in the Bay Area, it reminded us a bit of Mountain View Cemetery in Piedmont/Oakland. It was a peaceful place to start our day!
We walked into “Upper Town,” a part of the old city built atop a hill. To get to Upper Town, you have to hike up a lot of stairs or take the world’s shortest funicular (more on that in a future post) After a recharging cup of coffee (we had already walked about 8 kilometers) we continued our way through Upper Town.
We walked over to St Mark’s Church, which is our favorite landmark in Zagreb. The roof is bright and displays the coat of arms of Zagreb (white castle on red background) and Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia. The church is usually only open for services, but we lucked out that it was open for about 30 minutes while someone was playing the organ. We guess that the organ player was still learning because they were BANGING on the keys. Subtlety and nuance were not in their skillset yet. We included a video of this on our Instagram feed.
A few blocks away is Lotrščak Tower. The tower, which dates to the 13th century, was built to guard the southern gate of the Gradec town wall. A cannon has been fired from the tower since 1877 to mark midday. The cannon was to give the sign for exact noon for the bell-ringers of the city’s churches. The views were great! It helped soak in the town, which is MUCH larger than we thought it would be when we moved here. There were different levels as you climbed up that shared history of Zagreb and the tower itself.
After going down a lot of stairs, we meandered our way to the Cathedral of Zagreb. The outside of it is perpetually under construction as it was made with limestone which erodes quickly. The inside of the church was traditionally gothic.
After that, we grabbed a late lunch. Justin made friends with our waiter, who was a big NBA fan. That morning the Clipper signed Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George, so Justin celebrated by wearing his Clippers shirt and hat. Our waiter, a Bulls fan, seemed excited and shocked for the Clippers. We are too.
We ventured home. After resting for a bit and doing a bit of work, we grabbed Tessa and headed back into the city. We had now figured out how to buy metro tickets, and Tessa rode on a metro for the first time with us! We walked to a park near-by to get her some off-leash time. We visited a little space in the park that had chairs to lounge in, food and drink pods, and live music. It was filled with families, kids, and dogs.
We walked through the city and found a Croatian restaurant for dinner. As we still had Tessa with us, we were expecting to sit on the restaurant’s patio. We’ve learned that in Croatia, they prefer dog owners bring their dogs into the restaurant so that dogs walking past the outside patio won’t bother your dog or patrons.
After dinner, we ventured to another park which had live music and a big display set up. It’s part of a summer event series the city puts on hosting fun gatherings in parks throughout Zagreb with music, food, and drinks.
We walked around it for a bit, grabbed some ice cream, and headed home for the night. It was a great day of exploration!