Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day 6 - Zagreb

This day was supposed to be a stop-over and half travel, half-explore day, but was actually one of the neatest surprises on my trip so far. Zagreb is so nice! I don't really know what I had expected, or why exactly there seems to be little hype around Zagreb compared to Prague or even Ljubljana, but it is a really nice town with loads to see and do - I nearly regret that I am not staying a little longer.
Firstly, the train ride was fine, I got my first stamp on the trip (exiting the Schengen-zone) and there was a funny man walking around the train, advertizing (I think) for the restaurant and giving out (or selling??) little cups of coffee. I didn't take any because frankly, I didn't quite understand what was going on. Arriving in Zagreb meant that I had to switch currency for the first time, getting Croatian kuna out of the Bancomat which worked fine with Mastercard - I was worried because in Italy, most bancomats only accepted Eurocard Mastercards with a chip in there like a debit card.. I didn't want to be stranded somewhere in Eastern Europe without any cash!
Stepping out of the trainstation, you just see one massive park with a museum or two scattered about and lined by more or less renovated, but still gorgeous old buildings from the time of the Austro-Hungarian empire and after. The main square was filled with stands, I literally wandered right into a folclore festival or something similar, because all sorts of traditional crafts were presented and sold on the spot. It was a nice introduction to the Croatian culture, which Croatians are immensely proud of. The city itself is divided in the Upper, older town with many narrow, crooked streets as well as the parliament and the seats of power, and the Lower town which is less cute and more majestic with long, straight alleys and many parts. There is an area called the Green Horseshoe because the parks are so close that you can nearly walk from one into the other in a giant C. I visited specifically the Botanical Gardens, which are free and small, but very well-kept and beautifully put together. After coming back to my hostel and successfully uploading some pictures (free internet, yay!), I went to dinner with some of the fellow travellers in an actually kind of fancy place (think linen napkins and candelabras) and paid 50 kunas for a pasta dish (around 7 Euros). Ah, the joy of Eastern Europe...

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