Yesterday was sunny, the air smelled of spring, I had completed a big endeavour and I felt I deserved a treat! So I grabbed my camera and went for a walk! I used to do that kind of stuff in London very often, but here, at home, it seems somehow sillier, unwarranted… You’re just going for a walk? Just like that? No reason? wondered my mom… I knew what she meant, but I decided I wasn’t going to care. And once I was out, I caught myself wanting to take a picture of everything. Most of them will probably seem drab, grey, insignificant. But they’re scenes I know so well, scenes that are part of me on some almost biological level, and I couldn’t force myself to skip them in this tour I prepared for you. So get ready to see Zagreb, not only the Zagreb from postcards, but the everyday Zagreb, the year after year after year Zagreb, the grey and dull, the whimsical and impossible to understand, the loved Zagreb.
When I stepped off the bus at my tram stop, I decided to walk under a bridge to get directly to the river. Zagreb doesn’t really live around the river like other cities do, it’s more of an obstacle that needs to be crossed (which can get annoying at rush hour), and at most, people use its vicinity for jogging. As such, it’s not the most manicured of environments, and not a place I’d necessarily go to at night. So I was kind of surprized by how the structure of the bridge and the ubiquitous graffiti created what looked like a nicely arranged gallery!
And the city authorities have been working on making the river area more attractive. This park here used to be a big swamp full of dangerous waste… Now it’s a wonderful breezy space with a very elaborate (and well-visited) children’s playground, lake and cafe!
And off the bridge, a view of the river itself. Not terribly impressive, though it did show its impressive might a few months ago, when it flooded the area around my house. Luckily, it’s well within its bounds now.
When I crossed the bridge, I decided to skip a boring part of town by hopping on the tram. Trams are getting kind of outdated worlwide, but here in Zagreb we can’t imagine life without them. A few years ago the city introduced a whole series of super-modern new trams, but some of the old ones (like the one in which I knit yesterday) are still trudging along. The new ones are very smooth and shiny, but the old ones keep your bum really warm in the winter (yes, the seats are heated! I think they were imported from some really cold country!), so I kinda prefer them.
There are maps around to show you which tram to take, but, hmmm, sometimes they’re a bit tricky to read…
In any case, I know my way around! I hopped off the tram at a place I find very special. It’s a mark of the exact spot where the 16th geographical meridian crosses Zagreb. I never went to the prime meridian in London, but it’s still on my list. For now, here’s me standing on the 16th…
The spot it’s in isn’t anything special, it’s by a small supermarket on a very busy city intersection, but I kind of love that! From there, the meridian flows into the city…
And I went from there to the very centre – the most important place in our little town of half a million. This is the main square, where it’s all at, my friends! :) This photo shows the big clock around which people meet for dates. People simply say, “I’ll meet you by The Clock”, and everyone knows what that means. It’s one of those special things about belonging to somewhere. :)
The square is named after this feller. The Ban (sort of like a count) Jelačić. He used to face north, with the point of his sword showing the Hungarians (who tried (and succeeded) to invade us a few times) where they should stick it (erm, the official historic lingo is a bit different, but you get my gist), but in the nineties there were some other historic developments and we turned him the other way. (Ok, to stop you thinking that we’re crazy people who rearrange their main squares as often as some rearrange their living rooms, they didn’t just turn him around – the statue had been removed for a while during the Yugoslavia period, so when they were putting it back after independence, they changed the direction too.)
And finally, when you’re on the main square, you have to stop by this little fountain. It may be unimpressive, but it makes wishes come true if you flip a coin inside! ;) And there’s legends that the city was founded because of a natural spring that was in the same spot, and which made some travellers stop here awhile…
Have you made your wish? Good! I hope you liked this little tour, and I have a lot more to show you so stay tuned! :)
Great story! I really enjoy in every word and photo. You do have a gift for telling stories ;)
Thank you :)
Love this post! I particularly enjoyed the meridian – and the old trams with heated seats. Lots of fun to follow you around!
Thank you, I do love our meridian so… :) By the way, don’t know if I told you, but I have another friend with the same first and last name as you, and every time I see a comment from you I get a shock because I think for a second that she’s become a knitter too! :)
Quite fun to see some of the places, especially since I have pictures of me at the same places as well. :) I also discovered one very weird sign in Zagreb, maybe you know what that means: http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-17863.html.
hahahaha, lol! such signs are quite common, showing when dogs are not allowed in certain parks. someone must have added the gun for fun, i’m 100% sure it was an add-on by a high-school boy or someone similar :)
Aww, how lovely! It’s always nice to explore your home city – I love doing tourist-type things in London from time to time, even though I live here :) And learning about other cities is best when it’s from a native – guide books just aren’t the same! x
Weeell, London is a bit bigger (and dynamic), so there’s always new places to explore, but I know what you mean!
My husband and I visited Zagreb (just for a day at the end of a Croatia trip) two years ago–it’s nice to see the city again!
Ooooh, where did you go before Zagreb? :) Next time I travel in-country I’ll definitely make sure to bring my camera too :)
I loved your tour! Maybe it seemed mundane to you because Zagreb feels like home, but it was very interesting for me. I recently visited Moscow, where I’m originally from, and now one of my favorite streets looks a lot like the last photo. Let’s just say it wasn’t that colorful when I left, about 20 years ago.
Aaaw, Moscow is on my dream visit list… Some day…
Lovely! I’m sorry we didn’t have more time for sightseeing when we were in Zagreb. Perhaps next time :)
Next time indeed! Or maybe next time we do a tour of Belgrade, since my only visit to it ever was a total of 3 hours long! We did a (very) rushed tour, but I think I need to explore it a bit more! ;)
Hee, tramvaji koji griju guzu. Sjećam se kad sam prvi put sjela na jednu od tih stolica, u 13ici. Koji šok doživjeh! ;) Sad mi je to baš super. U Rijeci autobusi ne griju ništa, smrde i poskakuju po cesti na svakoj rupi. Živjeli tramvaji!
Da, nekad se znaju toliko zagrijati da ljudi ustanu jer ne mogu više izdržati :D ali generalno je super :)))
I’m a map freak, so I think standing at the 16th meridian is impossibly cool. Loved this post – got a geography lesson with my morning coffee. :-) My husband’s family is from northern and eastern Hungary and parts that are now part of Romania (though I’m sure they wouldn’t advocate anyone invading anyone else). I’ve never seen Zagreb before – it’s a beautiful city! Thanks for sharing!
Yay, glad to know I’m not the only one!
obožavam zagreb : ))
I loved the tour!
We have the same “let’s meet under The Clock” in Copenhagen, too. That’s just in the middle of the central station instead.
Oooh Copenhagen! All these comments are just giving me ideas for places to visit… :)
I really enjoyed your tour from here in Minneapolis! What a lovely city!
Thank you! :)
What a great tour! I really loved joining you on your walk:) I love how you said “our little town of half a million” !!!! I’d love to visit Zagreb in person someday.
awesome! i knew absolutely zilch about zagreb, and now i know a bit! fabulous.
You should be able to learn a bit more in a few more upcoming posts… ;)) Glad you liked it :)
You sure did a lot of walking :)
I really like how you included some of the not so pretty sights and problems that are there in any city, and some of the beautiful parts of Zagreb.