On our first night in Croatia, we went searching for a restaurant in Mlini. While we were down by the sea in the bay, we heard the sound of car horns beeping, and lots of them – like suburban crickets had somehow taken over the roads and were ready to take on the human race. Actually, if the suburban crickets had taken control of the roads, they’d be in a pretty good possession to take on the human race. I sincerely hope that none of the readers of this blog are of that persuasion.
Anyway, we had thought it was due to the football against Andora, but we’ve since discovered this is a wedding related tradition. The entire wedding party drive through the streets and sound the horn generally makiing as much noise as they pass. In the case of Split, we saw someone leaning out the window with a video camera, capturing all this excitement and people waving back into the cars, which seemed like a nice touch.
Speaking of weddings, we have arrived and will shortly be leaving Zagreb. We took the train from Split overnight, and slept the entire journey, before waking up wide-eyed and bushy tailed in Zagreb. Except for the sleeping part. The train journey is probably the only set of train tracks in the entire world that is based on a Grand Prix track. My understanding, is that when the railways are built, if something gets in the way, you get it out of the way so that the tracks are as straight as humanly possible. According to GCSE History, this is exactly what happened what happened in the UK. If you happened to be a farmer who owned land in the way …. you had to sell. Something went wrong in Croatia though, and every 5 minutes we were woken up as the train hurtled around another chicane. It was definitely an experience though, and I highly recommend it, if just for the wash pack and 7-day croissant (Pete hates those things!). So called because the croissants will last for 7 days and not taste any different to the first day. Take what you will from that 🙂
The first thing we noticed about Zagreb upon leaving the train at 6am, is that that Zagreb is cold. Really cold. “Oh that’s not good”, I said between shivering, “What isn’t?” mumbled Pete as he walked/slept at the same time. “I can see my breath”. Cold. The second thing we noticed as we left the station, is that it was even colder outside the station.
The capital is actually very different from the towns we’d been to so far. And not just because it was cold and much bigger. Previously, there was a very precise formula of “sea, followed by cafes and shops, and mountains”. There’s no sea here, but they have kept fairly close to the mould by keeping everything in the same order, from the river. More excitingly, everything is really really easy to find, and you don’t go and find the sea to find it. Instead, Zagreb has one of those city square things. Everything is really easy to walk to from Trg bana Jelacica, and all of the tram lines seem to pass through here. It’s a bit of a shame to arrive on Sunday when almost everything is closed, but there is still plenty to see, if not do.
We got the tram from the railway station towards the Hotel Ilica, where we stayed yesterday, and have a second night tonight. This is without a doubt a really brilliant hotel. I really can’t do it justice by description alone, but the woman at reception greeted us while holding a small dog that Paris Hilton would be proud of. As we walked closer to the room, we were already very impressed by the hotel furnishings, but stopped at the doorway. Double bed. Back down the stairs we go, hoping to change the room for a twin. Back up the stairs, concierge leading the way. “Yes, two beds” she said as she showed us the almost second room just around the corner. We have no less than; 1 single, 1 double bed, shower with head that stays up on its own (has rarely happened on this trip), a small oven / grill, balcony with 3 seats and table, 28″ widescreen LCD TV, DVD player, writing desk, fridge/freezer, and loads more. The room just looks great, and I can’t wait to put the pictures up – but check out their web site at www.hotel-ilica.hr to get some sort of idea.
If their was room in my bag, I would pack Hotel Ilica right up and stuff it in alongside the mini goth club to bring home.
It’s quite likely that Pete will murder me for this entry, but I have to write it anyway. I sent a text message back to the UK last night … “We’re in an Indian restaurant and my mate (Pete) has actually asked the waiter if the food should really be this hot.” We went out to an Indian restaurant for Pete’s birthday, as food of choice. It was all going well until Pete’s Spinach and Potato dish was laced with liquid fire. He tells me that it shouldn’t be hotted than the burning fires of hell, but I’m not sure – it’s an Indian restaurant after all, and the food is generally quite spicy. Anyway, Pete was very close to walking out without paying the bill, unless … unless the waiter tried his food, to make sure that it was SUPPOSED to be that hot. “It’s a vegetarian dish” said the waiter, “they’re always hotter”. Needless to say, the waiter didn’t try it, and I apparently wasn’t giving the support Pete was after, by laughing lots and apologising to the waiter. Well, mine was very nice after all 🙂
Pete rubbed his eyes, thus filling his eye sockets with that liquid fire and ensuring that “a place Pete doesn’t hurt himself” couldn’t be ticked off on holiday bingo 🙂
That’s all from Zagreb for now. More tomorrow probably, as we take a car rental back towards Split someway to the Plitvice Lakes National Park, before heading back to Zagreb on the 18th, and taking the train into Slovenia.