I’m just back from a quick, and fabulous, trip to Zagreb. Mr. Grace was there on business, and with a cheap plane ticket, I was able to tag along. Just so you know, I never miss a chance to go to Croatia these days – especially Zagreb, which was my home for four years before the war in the Balkans. In fact, I met and married the lovely Mr. Grace there. While having to leave as the war began and watching the place I adored descend into chaos was a time full of heartache, Croatia itself holds four years of amazing memories for me, and I consider it a major turning point in my life, the point at which I discovered the world at my door step and realized there was no going back to the insular way of life I’d grown up in.
Returning after so many years to find the best of Croatia still there, still vibrant, but even more so since joining the EU has added a new dimension to my life and given me the much-needed chance to heal old wounds and reconnect, the chance to make new memories and new friends.
Zagreb has always been a beautiful, fascinating city full of history and culture, but now, with a growing tourist trade and wonderful balance of independence and cooperation, the place has become a true jewel in Central Europe. The people, the location, the culture, the history make me want to go back again and again. Here are a few pictures from my last glorious visit.
Cheese Burek with yoghurt, delicious fast food in Zagreb. The two are traditionally eaten together, only because they are a fab combo!Burek is basically a layered thin pastry with a meat, cheese or fruit filling. This little place off the Dolac Market sells nothing but burek — cheese, meat or apple. And it’s the very best.
The Croatian National Theatre, a pilgrimage I couldn’t resist.
And this is why. I love Ivan Meštrović’s work and this is my very favourite piece, called the Well of Life. No way I could do it justice in a photo and no way I could resist the chance to sit in the sunshine and just take it in.
The most important pilgrimage I made, however, was to visit my old home on Goljak Street.
Strangely enough while almost the whole street has been renovated and is full of new flats and houses, my house was like stepping back into time. I got goosebumps just being there. It felt like I could just dig out my house key, walk right on in and make myself at home.
I created great deal of wonderful memories in this place on this very steep hill. I lived on the bottom floor, below where the laundry is hanging out to dry. I’m viewing it from the street below in this photo.
There were so many photos I could have taken, so much I would love to share with images, but this time, this trip, I spent most of my time in the moment, just walking and remembering and taking it all in while I shared my evenings and mornings with good friends. Oh! And coffee. There was LOTS of coffee shared with good conversation and laughter.
I was lucky enough to be able to be in the city for the opening of the Zagreb Festival of Lights. It was a wonderful warm night, perfect for walking about and enjoying the displays. This one was done by painting on small glass slides and projecting it onto the building. We were lucky enough to meet the amazing artists, Gordana & Zorislav Šojat from the Zagreb School of Light Art. This was most definitely our favourite display.
The second favourite was in Tuškanac, which is a gorgeous walking part of the city, green and full of trees and grass and parks. I had walked the area the day before in the warm spring sunlight. What a transformation night makes. This area is very near my old flat. You can see how hilly it is.
I would like to thank Melina Popovic, for the wonderful private tour of the Old City provided by her son, Tom, who is a tour guide. Tom was amazing! And I’d also like to thank her for sharing the Festival of Lights with us. She knew exactly where to look for the best displays.
I’d also like to thank Tanja Miloš for pointing out all the best places to “graze” while I explored Zagreb, and for lots more good laughs and naughty talk over lots of coffee. She’s the one who introduced me to the best burek in Zagreb .
Wonderful friends and wonderful memories, those are always what give prominence of place in my heart, and Zagreb, without question, holds a very important position therein.