Zagreb - getting ready to head east
Zagreb Travel Blog› entry 1 of 24 › view all entries
July 8th, 2008 – by: cneoridium
I was happy to be back in Zagreb. After being stuck there for a week last year after a missed flight, I'd become sort of attached to the city.
The plan was to start planning our trip around southeastern Europe there, but of course we immediately started traveling instead. We walked around the city for the afternoon before heading up north couple days up north near the Hungarian/Slovenian border to visit friends, before heading east, into the unknown.
We'd planned to go east, then to the north, maybe Romania or even the Ukraine, but east was the only certainty at this point.
Zagreb is a beautiful, clean city with almost a small town feel, despite being the capital. We even ran into people we knew walking around downtown - I might come across someone I know at random about once a year in San Diego... It's nice there in the summer, though hot - the city's nearly empty with most of the population apparently vacationing on the coast.
The layout is a well preserved ancient city at the foot of the mountains, surrounded by the river, surrounded by communist era high-rise housing, surrounded by farms. The streets are tree-lined, and bright blue trams are everywhere carrying commuters across the city.
The city for the most part escaped major bombing in WWII or during the Balkan War, so much of the old city is intact and has been kept in good condition. If you visit a cathedral in France or Germany, it's likely to have been rebuilt after the war.
Young people will generally know a little English or maybe some German, but expect to use some basic Croatian or sign language in a grocery store, buying bus tickets, etc. English or other foreign languages are not generally understood. One warning though, Croatian is really hard to learn! If you don't speak a Slavic language, it really takes some studying to pick up the grammar and pronunciation.
Prices are low, compared to the western European capitals, but would seem high to us by the time we returned from the eastern European countries we'd visit on this trip. Public transportation is great, and downtown is small, compact and walkable. One complaint that I have heard though, is that for some reason the hostels are relatively expensive, and there are few of them around. Expect to pay what you would in the EU here in the capital for a room.
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