Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Breaking up in Zagreb, Croatia

We were now ticking off the European countries as we headed west. Our plan was to try to visit as many friends as possible along the way. We were travel weary and were beyond spending hours visiting churches and museums. Instead we wanted a chat with someone familiar and a good cup of tea. Impressions of cities were made in milliseconds; tram stop right outside train station, like Zagreb, no map in train station, hate Bratislava.

Our train journey from Belgrade, through northern Croatia to the capital Zagreb was straight forward enough. A local woman, Andrea, sat in our train compartment and we chatted about life in Croatia, being a goth and a mother. In this part of the country there was fighting during the Balkans war and Andrea talked of escaping to the safety of Zagreb during these times.

Zagreb was the most European capital so far on our trip and is expected to join the EU in July 2013 and adopt the Euro - that is if still exists of course. It's clean cobbled streets lined with Christmas market stalls; the smell of gulwien wafting through the cold night air as a jazz band played in the park, greeted us off the train from Belgrade. We had come because James had a Croatian friend, Sveta, who he had met 10 years ago whilst he was a student in Moscow and she lived there as her father was a diplomat. That evening we had beers in her flat, a short tram ride away, and caught up.

Exploring the old part of city the following day was easy to do on foot. It was neat and tidy and pretty and I wondered why it wasn't a bigger city-break destination. We stumbled across the quirky Museum of Broken Relationships off a cobbled street and went to take a look. We had the little museum to ourselves as we perused the donated artefacts of ended relationships. Each item represented a relationship and the stories which accompanied them told of funny, sad and happy times in people's lives.

Sveta and James with Sveta's dog

A night out with Sveta and some of her friends in a local bar and then we were on the (rail) road again.

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