That time we went to Zagreb
Sometimes the best vacations are in places you haven’t planned on ever visiting. Couple of summers ago, we spent two weeks on a lovely European tour. We started in Amsterdam then went to Berlin, then Prague and ended up in Croatia. We really wanted to see Dubrovnik, but since there were no flights to Toronto from there, Zagreb was the closest thing.What did we know about Zagreb? Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Definitely not Dubrovnik
I don’t think Zagreb is necessarily a place that ranks high on the destination lists for European cities. Other than being the capital of Croatia, our knowledge of it was lacking. I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t want to spend too much time there. I mean, why hang out in Zagreb when we can spend more time in Dubrovnik?
Sometimes, though, things don’t always work out they way you plan. We ended up spending two and a half days in Zagreb instead of the few hours we intended on. It was probably one of the best unexpected places we ever visited, starting with our amazing Airbnb apartment.
We stayed in a one of those old buildings that was covered in decades of grime and soot. Despite the shabby grey outside, it had good bones, gorgeous wooden floors and locks that could rival a vault. Our host told us it used to part of some long-gone bank. Back in those days, apparently many of the bankers lived in this building. Pretty cool.
Love at first sight
From the moment we arrived, everything about Zagreb drew us in. It is an old city, with its roots going back to medieval times. There is a wide range of architectural styles all the way from Gothic to the Austro-Hungarian style of the 18th- and 19th-centuries and everything in between. As most of other cities from the former Communist block, many of these wonderful buildings have fallen into disrepair from decades of neglect.
Zagreb is full of charm no matter where you go. It is very walkable and has lots of pedestrian areas, and tons of patios. Did I mention patios? They’re everywhere. There are streets literally filled with them, and all are packed with people. We felt like we hit the jackpot.
One of the evenings, we stumbled upon a really cool wine cellar. With arched ceilings, brick finishings and small windows covered with bars, it felt like we were in some sort of a speak easy. Since I don’t drink wine, I opted for a local beer. According to Alex, the wine was outstanding.
A museum like no other
In addition to numerous coffee shops, restaurants, bars and shops, Zagreb also has wonderful museums and galleries. The most unique place we visited was the Museum of Broken Relationships. It is dedicated to failed love stories and many of the items are donated by average people who wanted to share their pain. Some are funny, some sad while others are really heart wrenching. It’s definitely a must go.
There were two view points in Zagreb that we had a chance to check out. One was on top of a hill and the other on top of a view tower. As it turned out, both were spectacular and made me really appreciate the small things. We felt very comfortable here even though we didn’t speak the language nor knew much about the city. I think that was the effect this place had on us. We really wished we had more time here.
Bringing it all together
As I said, we didn’t spend a lot of time in Zagreb, but the time we did was amazing. We loved it and would definitely visit there again. I think we would even consider living there if such opportunity presented itself. It was that good 🙂
What was the most surprising place you have ever visited? What made you love it? Let me know!