September 16th, 2008 – by: nonna
our train - yellow stripe over the window means 1st class
The train leaves the station at 6 am so we were up by 4:30am. Itâ€™s going to be a long day. And yes, itâ€™s overcast and chilly again. All this should change in Croatia.
We had a first class reserved compartment to ourselves again. I love this train travel. The Customs people come to you and stamp your passport while you sit, there are no long security lines and thereâ€™s more leg room than you need. Also its much less expensive than planes, your station is downtown, you can see the countryside and food is often available. Iâ€™m converted, for European travel anyway.
I worked on my TravBuddy blog as we took the 6 hour ride to Zagreb, Croatia.
Along the way we saw a huge, long lake (Lake Balaton) bordered by shuttered vacation homes. We napped, ate snacks, enjoyed the countryside and then we were in Zagreb, Croatia. Yea! Its time to join the tour group and be pampered. After two weeks of carrying our own luggage around and having nobody but us to solve the problems we create, weâ€™re ready to be pampered. (Actually, weâ€™ve enjoyed being self-sufficient and have had a great time so far but thereâ€™s no reason we canâ€™t continue having a great time while having somebody else take care of us.)
the beautiful Zagreb train station
The Regent Esplanade hotel is an old 1925 Orient Express hotel that has been renovated into a modern luxury hotel. Itâ€™s right next to the train station. How perfect. Not only is the exterior of the station historic, the interior smells like warm bread. I bought some donuts and we walked to the hotel. Now we are being pampered and there was someone waiting just for us in the lobby.
Our room was already reserved and the local guide, Zinka, gave us recommendations for things to do until the rest of the tour group arrived. There are forty two of us on the tour and thirty had taken an early trip to Lake Bled.
embroidery in the Ethnographic Museum
We took Zinkaâ€™s suggestion and visited the Ethnographic Museum to see Croatian historical costumes and some old furniture. Strangely enough the lower floor of the museum was devoted to costumes from Zaire, Indonesia, Australia, Japan and Latin America. All the historic Croatian costumes with intricate embroideries were upstairs. Afterwards we walked for awhile and returned to the hotel for a welcome dinner.
The dinner was light and we met Bob and Shirley, Janet and Gail, Earl and his wife. All were nice people. Dino, a young attractive Croat, is the program manager, and Iâ€™m sure this will be a good tour group