Zagreb, the Capital of Croatia, was starting point for Nada’s Pilgrimage 2017. It known as the “City with a Heart.”
Zagreb is distinguished by its 18th- and 19th-century Austro-Hungarian architecture. At its center, Upper Town is the site of the Gothic, twin-spired Zagreb Cathedral and 13th-century St. Mark’s Church, with a colorfully tiled roof. Nearby is pedestrian-friendly Tkalčićeva Street, lined with outdoor cafes. Lower Town has the Main Square, Ban Jelačić, plus shops, museums and parks.
Our group explored Zagreb with our local guide Dario. From the rich and colorful Saturday open market to afternoon traditional gas lamp lighting in the old city, lighting candles at the Shrine, and riding the blue cable cars to the Upper Town, the tastes, cultural treasures and welcoming people filled the group with joy.
Dario was our shopping director at the busyDolac Market with locals buying flowers, fruits and vegetables, jams, honey and more. Heguided us to the BEST stands for nuts, grapes, seeds, honey and more. The blueberry honey alone is worth a return visit!
Saturday’s market is also a time for Zagreb to parade its history with a Croat horse brigade and children performing folk dancing to live music. We visited the “Golden Threads” Museum detailing the technical restoration work on ancient books, tapestries, and garments. Outside on the plaza two spires side-by-side show the corruption of acid rain and centuries of exposure to the elements compared to the newly created replacement copied in the finest historical detail.
No day in Zagreb would be complete without a visit to the incomparable pastry shop Vincek. While half of our group ordered at the visually mouthwatering main shop, preparing heavenly desserts for over 40 years, the other half of the group ran around the corner to their newer “gluten-free” pastry shop, picked up their hearts’ desires and returned to join us for a sweets and cappuccinos feast. Nada’s special introduction to their famous chestnut puree was greeted with many spoons and sheer gustatory delight!
One very special treat in Zagreb was the newly opened interactive historical exhibition, “Croatia is Hrvatska” in TunelGrič; a 350-meter tunnel built in 1943 under the streets of Zagreb as a bomb shelter for the people of the city. The exhibition creates a “tunnel of time” covering 133 years of history in Zagreb including a special section dedicated to great scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla.
We spent 2 days in Zagreb to take in as much of the city as possible in our limited time and concluded our explorations with dinner at the elegant Gallo Restaurant where we dined on fresh seafood, delivered daily from the coast, homemade pastas and perfectly matched wines from the region. And, yes, again we ate incredible desserts!