City of a million hearts.
22.05.2013 - 22.05.2013 25 °C
Even though we'd been warned that the weather would take a turn for the worse today, we woke this morning to a clear sky - and lovely weather. A 9-10 hour sleep had done wonders and after a late breakfast, we headed out on foot with a map of Zagreb walking tours supplied by the hotel.
Our day didn't start well. We walked to the train station to buy two tickets to Budapest which is our next destination after Croatia. We left the station and were walking through some gardens when Red realised that he didn't have his sunglasses with him. These are prescription sunnies. He thought at first that he'd left them on the counter where we bought our tickets, but when he spoke to the lady behind the counter she told him that he was probably the victim of a pick-pocket. Retracing our steps, we think we know where it had happened. There was a Fanta promotional stand that we walked past where there were heaps of people all waiting to get a free drink. That's the only place that it could have been. We went back there and Red asked a security guard - who did not speak a word of english. No luck there at all - we had to resign ourselves to the fact that his sunnies were long gone. Straight away we found an optical shop and spoke to a lady who spoke great english - yes! We bought some clip-on sunnies and continued on our way - putting that one down to experience and putting Red's wallet in my lockable shoulder bag.
For the next 6 hours we walked all over Zagreb. The city is probably about the same size as Perth and with a map is very easy to get around. Zagreb is a mixture of the old and the new, but in the centre of the city the focus is on old.
We passed many beautiful and important buildings, lovely gardens and ended up in front of the Zagreb Cathedral with it's twin spires. Unfortunately one of them is being renovated at the moment and has scaffolding and a wooden facade around it. Nevertheless, it's a beautiful cathedral. We'll get to go inside it tomorrow when we're on our tour.
We followed the black arrows on the map and found ourselves in a flower market. Up some stairs and it turned into a food market - the individual stalls are under red umbrellas. Consequently there are many, many red umbrellas. This market has been operating for about a hundred years - and because it is such a well known and popular place, Zagreb has become well known for red umbrellas.
After lunch we continued walking and made our way from the Kaptol area (lower town) to the Gradec area (upper town). We caught the funicular - probably the smallest in the world (it takes about 20 seconds). This is the political area of Zagreb, the parliament houses are here, and various embassies. There are a lot of black cars in this area, members of the military and police. Flags of various nationalities are displayed out the front of buildings. In the main square is a beautiful church - St. Mark's, it has a beautifully tiled roof - with different coloured patterns and the emblems of the countries around Croatia. They are ceramic tiles, so they glisten in the sun - spectacular.
We also walked through the Stone Gate which is the single surviving town gate still in existence. Once entering the gate you are in a little chapel, where people can stop for prayers and to light a candle. It is quite unique as there is a Shrine to St. Anthony on one wall, pews on the other side of the little alley way, and also a painting of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus which mysteriously survived a fire in 1731.
We kept walking - and ended up in the Botanical Gardens. They are small but beautiful and a haven for anyone wanting a bit of peace. There is a large pond in the gardens and we were surprised to find turtles swimming around happily - and coming up to the surface of the water to get some sun - charming.
We made our way back to our hotel, stopping at a bar/cafe on the way for a coffee and a beer - about $5 AUD in total. Perth is expensive!
There was another lack of communication in relation to the start of our Croatian tour - similar to our Turkey tour, but a different tour company. We went downstairs at around 7pm to see if we could find out anything about the start of the tour, and our tour guide was there talking to some of the tour group. We gatecrashed the meeting, received apologies from the guide (there was a problem with the hotel not passing on information to us - same as Turkey). Not to worry - we all got together in the end.
We had dinner with a New Zealand couple that we'll be travelling with - and shared some travel stories. Back upstairs to pack up our bags and get ready for our Croatian adventure.