June 8th, Wednesday
This morning we boarded another van, said a last goodbye to Donna and Dave, and headed for Zagreb. It was just a two-hour drive, the first part on good country roads and the last part on highways.
We will all just overnight here, so we dropped off our belongings at our hotel (The Esplanade) and set off walking to see the sights.
Our hotel is conveniently located at the bottom of a rectangle that encompasses a promenade to the right all the way to Ban Jelacic Square, then is topped by the two old towns, Kaptol on the right with the cathedral, and Grsik on the left with its hill. The left side of the rectangle gave us a look at the opera house and the university and ended up at the Botanical Garden, next to our hotel. This was the route of our walking.
We did not go into any depth during our visit; it was just a cursory walk. Along the promenade we ran into a fair of some sort – from the words we could decipher it was about community groups… There was a performance by a folkloric dance troupe, too. And musicians attired in traditional costumes.
Our tour of the old parts of the city began with the bronze relief map pictured above, and the Cathedral. From here we followed a fairly tortuous path, guided by contradictions of the imperfect walking map we had and “Google” (who really didn’t know where we were…), seeing along the way this fun statue:
We did have a great lunch though (are you sick of my food descriptions yet?) We got there walking through the famous Stone Arch, where indeed we found many people praying for miracles. (I did too but it’s a secret what I prayed for…) The restaurant was called Trilogija and the service was excellent also.
While we were in Croatia, the news everyday was that the government was close to falling. After lunch we walked up to see St. Mark’s Church, notable for it’s roof tile design. To the right is a large impressive building called the “Sabor” (“parliament” in Croatian). You can guess what its function is, I hope! On the other side of the church is the building where some important functionary of the government has his office and outside were camped all sorts of reporters with TV cameras, waiting for an announcement. Apparently, they had been there for a few days already.
We visited the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art. That was a nice surprise. I was prepared by the guidebook to understand that Naïve art is art made by artists who have no formal training. But don’t for a minute assume that means they have no talent! We saw some exceptional works. (Use the link to see some of the pieces.) I heartily recommend that you stop and see this museum, but do take a little time to read about the artists and the works beforehand. Your appreciation will be much sharper as a result. Like with all art, there will be pieces you like and pieces you don’t, (even I had my favorites) but you should take a close look at the works done on glass (a medium far more available to “peasant” artists than canvas) and marvel at the technique used to paint on it.
We almost stopped to see the sculpture museum of Ivan Mestrovic but we were really tired by this point, so opted to return to the hotel via the botanical garden. We briefly poked our heads into The Museum of Broken Relationships too – but perhaps it was the topic that made us decide to leave it for another day. Our walk took us passed the Opera and through the Botanical Garden on the way back.
This evening we had dinner with some Red Arrow parents! (For those of you who haven’t been with this blog all along, Red Arrow is the camp in northern Wisconsin where my sons spent almost 30 years collectively as campers and staff members). We had met these Croatian parents at the end of different summers that their son attended camp, and it was wonderful to see them again, and in their home-town! It was really great to be able to ask them questions about Croatia and get to know them better.
Tomorrow we return to Venice for two nights. Click here to read about Venice and see the photos.
As this is also the end of the time I spent in Slovenia and Croatia, I have written a page of my final impressions and comments. Click here to read those and I hope you will add your own comments.