Well, you see, Zagreb is one of those cities that you get pleasantly surprised twith to the point of say “I have to return with more time.” It is a European capital but with less than one million inhabitants. That’s why it has the charm of a big city without the drawbacks of overcrowding.
I went to an event, Coworknet, a European coworking event being held in the city that hooked me into one of those times when you have so much work that does not give you time to prepare the luggage properly, much less the trip.
The taxi from the airport to the city center cost me 240 kunas, about 35€. On the way back and following the advice of some friends I discovered that I could have caught a “Ekotaxi” through Uber, which would have cost half or less (important: gray cab = dagger in the back, white Ekotaxi = your best friend). Uber is not working in Spain although it’s rampaging in Europe. It’s not come, or better said, they have allowed it to come.
If there is something in Zagreb, like in most big cities, it is history. Attacked by Romans, Ottomans and Nazis, to end with the Bosnian war in the nineties, history and culture breathes everywhere. Do not talk about Bosnia in Croatia because the conversation can be extended. I’m not going to talk about it. War. The f*cking war.
I loved the idea of walking the streets Nikola Tesla also walked once. There is even a technological museum that bears his name. Some say he was Bosnian, others Croatian. Apparently, the mother was Croatian and the father Bosnian or opposite. As stupid as the canarian discussion about the Mountain of Guía or Gáldar.
still I don’t understand how society has not given the tribute he deserves as one of the most influential men in the history of mankind.
On the back of the Street of the Swanky Hostel, there is an uphill where I saw people enter through a bad looking door in a park. It was something quite unique: a tunnel built after World War II to take refuge for possible bombings, which was never used for that purpose. Moreover, it was closed until after 90’s for, things of life, hold a Super (never better said) Underground. Rave Party. People remembered as something mythical. I believe it.
The tunnel had been opened just two months after the rave 20 years ago, so even guidebooks didn’t talk about this new spot in the city.
Apparently the council is considering converting the refuge into an art gallery. What an irony, considering that art is a refuge.
After about 800 meters mysterious journey, deep echoes and silences, we ended near Josip Jelacic Square, where the statue of a hero on horseback who abolished slavery, gives its name to the main square of the city.
There is also a clock. Apparently, here is where the local people meet with other friends. It is curious to see hundreds of people under the clock. So many people that sometimes you can not even see the person you’re meeting.
Hence we climb stairs to reach the Dolac Market, where a kind of farmer cooperatives sell their fresh and totally organic products. As in all markets, the explosion of colors and smells is amazing.
Nearby is the Cathedral. It’s something like the Croatian Sagrada Familia, and not by its neo-Gothic style, but because it has been more than 20 years in reconstruction and they have not finished yet. Both the cathedral and many other historic buildings were built by Hermann Bollé, a German architect who lived in the city. Although, I must say, the guy did pretty well, I guess that hiring professionals from outside rather than betting on local talent is something common everywhere.
From there we moved to Tkalčićeva to have a couple of handcrafted beers. Tkalciceva is a busy city street that used to be the street of the prostitutes. There is a metal statue of a woman leaning out a window. I invite you to take a picture… of her back!!
In case you didn’t know, it is said that the tie was invented in Croatia. Women of soldiers put their husbands a moored neckerchief, so they could recognize their side and not kill each other in battle. In addition, returning the neckerchief to his wife used to be the last request of a dying soldier. Nothing to do with the role that plays today a piece of cloth tied around our neck.
Nearby is the church of San Marcos, probably the symbol of the city by the colors of the roof with the flag of Croatia. It is said that in this square, criminals were tied to a pole to feel the humiliation of people watching them there. There are also some lanterns that once a watchman used to lit at night. Today the tradition is preserved and a gentleman pretends doing it every day making the lights, although they are electric.
Turning round there is a downhill which leads you to the cannon tower. Halfway is the Museum of Broken Relationships. Apparently stupid, but in the end I stuck a good time there reading stories about other people’s donations made to the museum. I’d take the ax as curiosity and the tale of the dominatrix.
There are several versions of the story of the canyon. I´ll keep my favorite one: It is said that the Ottomans were at the gates of the city to invade it. From the tower, at noon, a projectile, which is said to have fallen into a chicken dish that would be served the invader Pasha was launched. “What a marksmanship” said the Pasha. “Better if we leave this place.” And the city was saved. Since then, every day at noon a fictional cannon shot is fired.
There is a beautiful view of the city from the tower of the canyon.
There is also the funicular of Zagreb, which takes only a minute to move from the top to the bottom, but it is worth taking as it brings you to a restaurant that I liked quite much, the Njummy. I discovered it thanks to my friend Marin. Having dinner together, he told me he wanted to leave his job as a sales manager at a major automation multinational company and to pursue his true passion: fitness. I encouraged him to do so and go to California to learn from the best ones. To do what one likes.
The main street has plenty of shops. In one of them I bought a gift, classic Dubrovny design earrings in a veeery old jewelry. The street crosses the main square and has a lot of side recesses in which you can make curious discoveries as a retro vintage shops, declining or closed businesses like seventies’ photo developing shops.
You have to leave the center as well. And I did, in all directions. Walking through Marticeva, I found a design shop where in the second floor is a coworking space for designers. A little further there is the Zlatna Školjka where the food is good and the dishes are quite generous.
In the ancient theater there was an exhibition of Giacometi which I left quite impressed. Not by the figures of the “walking man”, who are very well and never leave you indifferent, but also because they projected images of Syrian refugees who left me quite shocked. I do not know who the author of the videos was but eventually I left satisfied with the 2×1.
I can not say the same of Mimara Museum, which was quite disappointing, except for a Renoir I could see up close and even touch (I am worse than a child) as there was absolutely no one in the museum, even not security.
Otherwise, I was wandering around. Many damaged buildings full of tags and graffiti, but did not see much urban art. Many ancient and modern facilities, from video stores to vinyl shops, hair salons through design or alternative clothing.
I would have liked to see a little more of the life of Zagreb. Probably I will pass to see again my friend Petar in Splitz and enjoy the Adriatic coast. Until then, I’ll await with a good memory of it and keep on drawing sounds.
“A no bigger than a watch cheap instrument will enable its bearer to hear anywhere, on sea or land, music or songs, or a speech of a political leader, taught elsewhere, distant. Similarly, any drawing or printing will be transferred from one place to another”.