Thursday, August 19, 2010


Plitvice Lakes National Park was on my must see list when planning the trip in Croatia, and it seemed the bus commute between Zagreb and Zadar was the only way to get to the park, so I gave up the Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the historic centre of Poreč and headed to the capital of Croatia, Zagreb. While waiting for a bus to Zagreb at the Plitvice lakes bus stop, I met a couple who were also going to Zagreb and the girl was half Taiwanese from her mother's side even though she couldn't speak Mandarin. Before any bus came, a minivan stopped at the bus stop and a woman asked if we would like to share the van with them, 3 Australians, to Zagreb, so we hopped in the van and enjoyed the nice company and beautiful scenery on the road to Zagreb.

The city is devided into the upper and lower towns; churches and historical buildings are located on the hilly park of the city whereas art museums and greenery parks are scattering in the lower town. The buzzing Trg Josipa Jelacica and the adjacent Dolac fruit and vegetable market are great starting points for a walking tour as they are located on the 'border' between the upper and lower towns. The colorful tiled roof of St Mark's Church makes it stand out from the surrounding buildings. Did the same architect design the roof of the St Stephan's Cathedral in Vienna as well, I wondered. Despite the emblem of Zagreb on the roof, somehow the color tiled roof church looked 'German-ish' to me.

"Zagreb doesn't do many markets, but those that it does do, it does well." The Dolac fruit and vegetable market (06:00-15:00; daily) sells freshly picked vegetables, flowers and fruits from all over Croatia and the antiques market (09:00-14:00; Sunday) on Britanski Trg is a treasure island for collectors. Hrelic (07:00-15:00; Sunday) is the biggest flea market I have ever seen so far. The market is located in Sajam Jakusevac, about 20 minutes away by bus (No. 295) from the city center. From hundreds of meters away, I could see goods laid out on the ground on both sides of the road, it's only when the bus had come to a full stop that I realized how big the market was. Almost half of the market was second hand cars and car parts. I saw CDs, underwear, kitchenwear, anything you can name, even a pig roast, all this in an area that looked like a big garbage dump or gravel pit. A man was having fun with his untopped umbrella, "it's perfect for anyone who wants to get a beautiful suntan in the summer", he said with broken English. That was the highlight of the market for me, charming.

Summer means fun in Croatia. I spent one night in the Park Ribnjak watching people fire dancing with the music; another night sitting in the rain watching Opereta Gala at Scena Gradec. Teenagers with great profiles, shirt off practicing flips while a little boy watched and trying to imitate them. The city is not only fun but has a lot of energy in summer, no wonder it is listed as one of the coolest places to go.

Useful info:
Zagreb has a well-developed and efficient public transport system that consists of trams, buses and trains. The tram network is an ideal transportation in the center of the city (routes and timetable in Croatian) while the local bus system covers the area outside the city center. The price of a single-ticket valid for 1.5 hours is 10 Kuna; a day ticket (dnevna karta) valid for both tram and bus until 4 am the next morning, is available for 25 Kuna at most kiosks. Buy a ticket and punch it in the little orange machine once you enter to validate.

Zagreb card grants you unlimited travel on public transport in Zagreb, discounts at virtually all of the city’s museums, reduced prices at many restaurants, shops, and service providers (discount details). The card is valid for 72 or 24 hours (90kuna or 60kuna) from the date and time entered on the card and is not transferable.

Zagreb tourist board:

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