At breakfast there were no ice cubes, only the customary European start to the day of meats, cheeses, breads, yogurt and museli.  No complaints from us.

I inquired again about the AC, and this time the clerk sent a service person to our room. What do you know? The AC actually needed maintenance! By the time we left to start our day, the room was cooling nicely.

The plan was to tour Old Zagreb and New Zagreb on a bicycle, and with a guide. Logically, I would have toured Old Zagreb first, but our guide seemed most proud of New Zagreb so we toured in reverse chronological order.

A sidenote on the title. Our bicycle guide informed us that Croatia is “Central Europe,” and definitely not part of the Balkans. Old dislikes for neighboring countries die hard, I guess. Corrections to our perceptions of geography, local foods, and pretty much everything else will be a recurring theme on this trip…

To get to New Zagreb we passed through an unusual area, one that was developed piecemeal, in and around the small villages and other failed and abandoned efforts. Our guide said the area epitomizes Zagreb—no one has any plans.

New Zagreb resembles suburban America: wide boulevards, square, glass modern buildings, shopping malls, and even an artificial lake. The city sprawls across the Sava, although little more than a dirt path invites people to walk along the river.   After September 11, 2001, the US moved its embassy out from Old Zagreb to just beyond New Zagreb, and a whole service sector has grown around it. Our guide seemed pleased that people were now driving in both directions, from Old to New and vice versa, for work, even thought this new development meant traffic and pollution.




Cycling back across the Sava into Old Zagreb, we found Old Zagreb a challenge to cycle in (lack of bicycle lanes and no lack of crazy drivers) and asked to cancel the tour.  Our guide was most gracious and agreed, citing the lack of bicycle lanes as another data point for her thesis that Zagreb has no plans.

By this time the 36°C temperature and equally high humidity had wilted us, so we had a quick bite at Good Food for Good People.  The small but very new restaurant had a large crowd on the day we visited, with most ordering the “Good Food Burger.”  We followed suit and agreed that the food was good.  It’s always fun to see how other countries interpret American food, too; Anna Grace ordered the barbecue burger, and it came with cheese, bacon and mushrooms.

In the late afternoon we braved the steamy air to walk through the Old City and most enjoyed ourselves. We were actually more impressed with Old Zagreb, a smaller scale version of Vienna than Suburban America New Zagreb. Our bicycle guide had complained about this, as well; that Zagreb, once part of the former Habsburg monarchy, spends too much time trying to be like Vienna. (I did not have the heart to tell our guide that her beloved shopping mall (and all shopping malls) was actually the brainchild of an Austrian.)

Trg bana Josipa Jelacica (Main Square). Under Tito’s Yugoslavia this was renamed Trg Republika (Republic Square) because, of course, Josipa Jelacica was deemed to be too much of a Croatian nationalist.


Under the heat of the canopies, the market in the square smelled like a gigantic smokehouse!

Trash collection via bicycle. Not very Vienna-like, where trash trucks can block the narrow streets for quite some time.

Nikola Tesla. Born in Croatia, but considered a Serbian-American. A touchy subject with our bicycle guide.

Art Nouveau a la Vienna.

Trg Marsala Tito (Marhall Tito Square) and the National Theater.
How funny is this?  On our full day in Zagreb, Austria was welcoming Croatia to the EU with an afternoon of “all things Austrian,” including a strings performance outside of Cafe Austria.


Nuns were everywhere in Zagreb.
This nun at the old city gate had just finished scolding the panhandler. Not for panhandling, but for smoking while panhandling!

A small artist alley at the top of Zagreb. Unable to answer the question, “however will we get this painting home?” we did not purchase the next great masterpiece.


Definitely a museum we have never seen before, its holdings a collection of castoffs by former lovers. We were a little suspicious of the premise.

St. Mark’s Church.
Zagreb’s Basilica. It took us almost the entire day to find a major structure in this European city under restoration. We were starting to worry.

Old-school street lights.

Postcards from Zagreb.



Not certain how widely available wine would be as we move into Muslim countries further along on our trip, I made the effort to savor a crisp Croatian white every day.  Zbogom, Zagreb!