July 23, 2023: We had time for a quick Zagreb Rerun this year. Though short, it was a nostalgic stop, like visiting an old friend.
Our Croatia Trip in 2021 was our first outside of “western culture”. Our limited awareness was a 1963 James Bond flick. The Slavic tongue was difficult (were are the vowels?). The body language and customs seemed unfriendly. UN Peacekeepers had been in the region just 30 years prior trying to avert the worst horrors at the end of communism in the Balkans. And gang tagging marred many old buildings as we taxied into Zagreb from the airport on arrival.
Yeah, we were nervous.
But trepidation slowly warmed into delight (see Zagreb Impressions from 2021). The people are friendly and happy to have us. The city was clean. The food was good. Croatia has become one of our favorite places. And a Zagreb rerun fit perfectly into our 2023 Central Europe trip.
Long Train Runnin’
Our train from Budapest arrived in Zagreb about 10:30pm. A hot (windows, no a/c) seven-hour journey behind us, we were exhausted and chose sleep over another Zagreb Saturday Night. From the station we stumbled across the street to Hotel Central. Our reunion with the city would wait for morning.
Jean was up early to revisit the Dolac, Zagreb’s city-center produce market. She keenly observed the grandmothers with hand-trolleys. This is the easiest way to identify the best vendors, and best produce. Just as the grandmothers did, Jean counted out exact change for the bell peppers, onion, cucumber, and peaches that were to be our lunch.
While Jean shopped, I started a “rerun” of Bundek Park, nostalgically repeating a long route from 2021. A careless step changed the plan before I reached ½ mile; a loose cobblestone sent me to the ground with a badly sprained right ankle.
After muttering and massaging it for 15 minutes, I stubbornly decided to continue, with a much shorter route through Lenuci Park in Donji Grad (downtown). The alternate route was a gift; locals celebrated a folk festival in the park, complete with costumes and excellent vocal music. Pausing to listen helped my ankle and my mood considerably.
Jean and I soon reconnected, pleased and a bit nostalgic about our brief reconnection with Zagreb, where our MnJTravel2 international travels had begun. We collected our Renault Clio from CarWhiz, and were off to Slovenia and new adventures.