For the final leg of our Croatian-installment, we jumped a bus and headed north to the capital; Zagreb. Wow. This was another eye-opener of a city again, and completely different to that which we had explored thus far.
Zagreb is one of those cities that defines turn-of-the-20th-Century, Art Nouveau luxe, decadence and beauty. The architecture was gorgeous. The buildings were ornate. The food was good. The beer was great. The icecream was off the hook! The city was stunning, laced with churches and parliamentary grandeur, attractive rollling boulevards, and all connected by a web of trams. Despite it’s extensive history and old-world charms, it was also filled with incredible art, much of it modern. The Museum of Contemporary Art was incredible, from it’s harsh, architecturally-designed exterior, to its thought-provoking exhibits, to the DNA-Helix slide you used to exit the building from the third floor once you had reached the end. (Image below)
I think part of our excitement was just getting to a new city and exploring more ‘artistic’ pursuits, such as art and architecture. Everything was so unlike Melbourne; it makes me realise how short Australia’s history is, in comparison with Europe.
But it also helped to wrap up Croatia and define all that is great about the place, which perhaps we didn’t do enough reflection on whilst there. For such a small country, it packs so much in. Attractions abound – natural, culinary, architecture and design, sporting, artistic, fun. From the beauty and chilled vibes of the islands down south, to the funky centre where the Mediterranean staples of olives and wine still take centre stage, to the Northern areas and beyond, reaching upwards and outwards towards the Eastern-European Austro-Hungarian Germanic influenced lands.
We also stayed at a sweet Hostel – the Funk Lounge – huge shout-outs to Josef and the team there! Good hostels always equal happy travellers, which equals happy experiences.
During our stay, to break up all the art and beer-swilling at breweries (or was it just to get away from the aforementioned icecream shop??), we did a day-trip to Plitvice (pron. plyt-vitch-ay) Lakes. About 3 hours drive from Zagreb takes you to Nature’s paradise. This National Park is comprised of 16 interconnected crystal-clear lakes, cascading waterfalls and gushing streams. Little wooden footbridges connect all the areas, and you travel by boat to get between further-afield locations. The colour of the water was so beautiful! The most striking, vibrant turquoise, offset by a crisp blue sky (Hoorah! Good weather!) and crisp, electric greens of the trees and woods surrounding.
The waters of Plitvice are minerally rich, and deposit new layers of porous rock (called Tufa) constantly, thus the lakes are always in a state of change as their shapes ebb and readjust. You couldn’t swim in the water, and it did fill a little bit Disneyland-esque, battling thousands of other daytrippers across these narrow footbridges, everyone trying to get their fill, or that perfect shot. But it was worth it, and I could not recommend this special patch of nature more highly.
Ok if you go to Zagreb, you have to go to the Museum of Broken Relationships. Once again, in true, cool, Croatian style, they have this contemporary museum, dedicated entirely to stories of the ending of people’s relationships. It started as a small, travelling exhibition, but so many people from all over the world have submitted various things that the museum is now a permanent fixture in the city. For each case, there is an object, and an accompanying story, detailing how or why the relationship ended. There were stories of adultery, suicide, unrequited love, death from drug abuse or ill-health, unsustainable long-distance relationships, war stories, and various other situations. It was funny, thought-provoking and devastatingly sad all at once. A must if you are in Zagreb!
This was a quote on the wall in there. I think it is absolutely beautiful, and I strongly relate to the sentiments within. Just that phrase, “hurt me methaphisically [sic]…”
Wow. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
As I talked about earlier, this is the ‘exit’ from the Museum of Contemporary Art. They give you a little calico sleeping-bag-sack, you jump in, and slide down this DNA-helix to get out and go home! It looked very cool, and I must admit, did take a LOT of cajoling to get me in there.
(As a claustrophobia sufferer it wasn’t high on my bucket list of activities to do before I die…
or possibly die while doing!)
But once I got in it was fun, and I felt like a schoolkid again, and giggled the whole way down. And reckless abandonment and giggling are always a good thing.
Hungry for more??? Stay tuned for Hungary!!!