September 2nd, 2009 – by: cneoridium
Long trail to the swap meet, across farms and fields
It was Wednesday, Swap meet day! After Zvonka went to work I headed out on foot to Hrelic, where a massive swap meet is held on weekends and Wednesdays. She was getting off at noon today, so I had to hurry. It's about a 2 mile walk, out of Novi Zagreb, through the suburbs, through corn fields, and out to the edge of town, between the dump and the steam plant. The only way I could find it again was to follow the scattered old folks with their shopping bags winding their way through the alleys and corn rows. Finally after poking through a hedge, the swap meet. It wasn't as good as on weekends, this time almost all used clothes, faucets, and chain saws. I mean, all 200 vendors had the same things, old clothes, every kind of faucet and valve, and old chain saws.
Used clothes, faucets, chainsaws... same thing at every stand this time
I like it though, like every swap meet there are people there from every walk of life and plenty to see. Not many photos because every time I took the camera at someone scolded me. I think all those faucets and valves may have kind of questionable origins... : )
I'd worn the wrong shoes and after four hours of walking, crap, my feet really hurt and it was time to run to meet Zvonka to climb a mountain! A few trams and busses later we met and headed for the mountain. Medvednica, and it's 4500 foot peak Sljeme, is a great place. It borders the city to the north, so from any point you can walk out of the edge of the noisy city and be in a wooded wilderness, seemingly miles from anything. A network of unsigned trails lead through the woods, the trails that confounded me last climb and sent me to the wrong peak.
...except for some old books from Yugoslav times
This time I fared better with Zvonka as a guide, she's been climbing it all her life.
In California when you climb a mountain, there are sweeping views of the countryside. On Medvednica, you're in a tunnel of trees, so you can walk for an hour with no real sense of direction or location. At rare intervals, an opening allows a view of tree covered ravines and slopes, probably similar to the canopy you're peering out from under. It was a hot, humid afternoon and we burned through our water near the top. Fortunately there's a tiny ski resort at the peak and we split a Velebitski beer and refilled our water.
Well, also on the peak is a little mountain house with food, and we were starving, but decided to risk hiking to the other peak where there's a better mountain house, really hoping that it would still be open, as the day was ending.
There seems to be more eating and drinking of beer and coffee at the swap meet than buying...
After a long hike through denser and darker woods (even without the setting sun), we found it. The owners receive cream from the farmers in the rich agricultural valley behind the mountain and make a Zagorje specialty, fresh cheese with homemade sour cream. It's a cardiologist's nightmare, a huge bold of creamy cheese covered in thick, rich sour cream and generously sprinkled with salt, but it's really good, especially after climbing all day with no food. I don't know why, but I really like the big bowl of salad that comes with it too, fresh finely shredded cabbage with cucumbers and vinegar, then some coffee while we rested before the trip down. We were going to be in the dark anyway, so why hurry. We took a different route down, the last segment by flashlight, at the end of another good day.