It’s pitch black and we’re zipping through one small town to the next. Outside of our headlamps, orange glowing churches scattered across the countryside are the only other sources of light. Another couple hundred kilometers and we’ll be in Vienna.
I woke up this morning cold free, chip free and excited. Yes, those magical Croatian drugs have healed my body. Fueled by eggs and a leftover slice of pizza, I was ready to get this day started. My best friend, Andrea, took the worst imaginable flight path to meet me in Croatia. She went through 24 hours of travel, which included stops in both Newark and Charles de Gaulle, true flying torture, to arrive in Zagreb at 12:45 today. Clearly she really loves me and I love her too.
We had a few hours to tour the city, so with Iva in tow, acting as an unofficial guide, we kicked off our afternoon with lunch at Sofra! Of course, it was delicious and just as good as I remembered. We ordered cevapi, stuffed cevapi in a creamy sauce, wine, Turkish coffee and finished it off with baked apples stuffed with nuts and whipped cream. Oh, and there may have been a salad. We stuffed ourselves past the point of being full and had no regrets. At least I didn’t; I convinced myself that all the walking we would do later would cancel out some of the damage.
With only a few hours to do Zagreb, we really had to keep moving in order to see the major highlights. This is something that we (meaning Andrea and I) struggled with. Between the two of us we were constantly taking pictures, selfies and asking Iva to take photos of us while we posed. From this, you can hopefully gather that there are so many picture perfect places in Zagreb, especially if you are treated to an abnormally warm, sunny day in October. You couldn’t blame two photo obsessed girls for wanting to take advantage of it- “Oh, look, a gnome in the window!” or “Lets make a hand heart with the city in the background!”
Luckily, Iva was able to wrangle us in and we made the most of our time. She was the real adult today. We chose to tour The Upper Town. Our first stop was Ban Jelacic Square, a major focus point in the city.
Next we took a hike up the hill to get to what I believe is the most beautiful cathedral I’ve ever seen. Currently they are doing construction on the outside but it’s still impressive. What really takes my breath away is the inside. We entered the cathedral just as Friday mass started and were quickly pushed out, no tourists allowed.
It was too late to see an active market but we walked passed the area anyways.
The stone gate was our next stop and there we saw the miraculous painting of the Virgin Mary. Miraculous because it was saved from a devastating fire in 1731.
We quickly swung by St. Mark’s Square, the Croatian History Museum and then on to St. Catherine’s Square. Followed by what was by far my favorite part of the city, The Strossmayer Promenade.
This place was so serene and peaceful, that is, until we arrived and turned it into the backdrop for our ridiculous photo shoot.
After receiving enough uncomfortable stares from onlookers, we went to see the view from Gradec. While there, I noticed locks with lovers names or initials on them. Iva called it a copy from Paris. Whatever, I still liked them.
Our last stop on our tour was Tkalciceva. This street was fun with all of its colored buildings and the youth of Zagreb flocking to the cafe bars. There, we tried some local brew at Pivnica Mali Medo which was so refreshing after all that hustling we did.
All I can say is that we did it! In a few hours, we saw so much of Zagreb and had enough time to take a few silly photos and enjoy some damn good beer.
With significantly fewer kilometers remaining, David is navigating Drea and me through the Austrian mountains. After such a fun day with my bestie, I can’t wait for the three of us to be waking up in Vienna.