The apartment we have in Zagreb is Apartment Charlie, located 2 ½ blocks off the main square – Ban Jelacic Square. We are 1 block from Cherie’s friends (husband, wife, and senior in high school daughter - Canadians), who work and live in Doha, Qatar. Cherie and they have vacationed together before, so we all will be spending some time together, yet do our own thing. They flew to Zagreb from Split on the 19th of Dec, while we have explored other parts of Croatian, Montenegro, and Bosnia- Herzegovina via car.
Also in the meantime, another couple (husband, wife, daughter who is a senior in high school and a 12-year old son - Australians) also living and working in Doha, Qatar, decided to join the party. The girls are best of friends, so the arrival of the second couple was a surprise, as it was a last-minute decision for them. Cherie was with them in Australia this past summer, and all of them have vacationed in Prague two Christmas’s ago. There are 10 of us!
|Fish Soup for Everyone and Anyone|
The first night we reserved a restaurant for all 10 of us, but from then on, we have breakfast with one couple who eat breakfast (while the others sleep-in), and then we have evening beverages with the other couple who does no have the younger child to get to bed. It has worked well. Cherie has had time with each couple by herself.
Our apartment is very nice, but has only a studio style kitchen. The one couple has a great kitchen, with a large dinning/living area, which is very appropriate for all of us to gather. It is a perfect apartment for entertaining. We will gather there for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Zagreb is a lovely town/capital city. Everything for tourist is centrally located, within a 7-10-minute walk. All 3 apartments are with-in a 3-5-minute walk. It is ideal.
|Breakfast with Friends|
|Meat and Cheese Market|
Zagreb is celebrating Advent in a very big way. Almost every possible square has Christmas markets with the little booths being decorated differently. Christmas decorations are everywhere, buildings are lite with small white lights, and the main squares has a sound stages where groups are preforming – from Senior groups, civic groups, and children groups.
The Christmas markets in Zagreb have more of a emphasis on food and beverages than the German markets, that we experienced in 2012. The German markets have more crafts and gift items.
After breakfast each day we have explored the city. The main square is surrounded by old elegant Austian-Hapburgs style buildings, with the equestrian statue of Josip Jelacic, a Croatian unifier, in the middle This is an ideal spot for meeting friends. The main shopping streets lead off the square. All tram lines stop in the square, so it is an extremely busy part of the city. At one end of the square is a 360-degree viewing platform at the top of the tallest skyscraper. You buy a ticket for the whole day, so it is great to have a daytime view of the city and then return for a night view. It really gives you a perspective of the city and the Christmas markets.
|Miniature Train Museum|
|Ice Skating in the Park|
Behind this square are the two original towns of Zagreb – Gradec and Kaptol, united in the 1850’s. Gradec is now considered “Upper town”, as you either take the funicular (cable car) or walk lots of steps to get there. Kaptol has the lovely Zagreb Cathedral, which is in the process of having the exterior restored. This is a Catholic Cathedral as Croatia is a devote Catholic country. Inside 4 confessionals were in use, with long lines at each station. It was amazing. Behind the main altar there is a life-sized sculpture of the Archbishop of Zagreb who served during World War II.
In the plaza outside, in front of the Cathedral, each night had 3 performances of a live nativity – we greatly enjoyed the 4:15 performance, so we stayed to see it again at 5:00. It was a worshipful experience, even though not a word was spoken in English.
Near the Cathedral Square is the Market Square. The outdoor upper market is for fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, etc, whereas inside under the upper market is the meat and cheese market. Everything appeared to be extremely fresh, and colorful. Each season would bring somewhat different items. Right now, there were plenty of the fall/winter veggies – including fresh made saurer kraut. As you enter the upper market area there is a statue of a villager wearing a traditional dress and head scarf, with a basket of produce – very appropriate. It was extremely interesting to people-watch the people behind the produce stand, selling their produce – lots of personality.
Due to being here on Christmas Day, when most places are closed, our group has decided to cook our own Christmas meal. American, Canadian and Australian tastes are compatible. We also decided to have soup on the evening of Christmas Eve – broccoli soup and chicken noddle soup. It was fun buying things at the market for these two meals. For Christmas Day our contribution is mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and baked squash.
Zagreb has a Green Horseshoe – in other words a U-shaped belt of parks, squares and museums, with the main train station at the south end and the Jelacic Square at the top (north) end. There are Christmas markets on two blocks, and a huge ice skating rink in the longest park area. It is absolutely lovely!
Even though places are very close in proximity, you can go on a continuous stroll. Each day we strolled to different parts of the city, returning to these parts again at night when all the lights were lite. Places are lovely during the day, but it becomes magical when the lights are lite.
|Anniversary - 51 Years|
We went to the Croatian Museum of Naive Art. It is interesting art, as it is really a folk art. We really enjoyed the peasant scenes. We also went to the Broken Relationships Museum – a lot of this was about ‘summer loves’, and “giving up the first love”. The museum really was not what I expected.
Christmas Eve afternoon, in the Main Square (Jelacic Square), tables were set up so that there were 10 serving stations, serving a traditional fish soup to anyone who wanted to wait in line for it. They also set up tables on which you could eat your soup standing up. Beside the large bowl of dried cod fish soup, you received bread. The square was FULL of people eating fish soup. This traditional meal was provided by the city of Zagreb. We had no desire to taste it, even though we were invited to do so.
The Cathedrals in Zagreb were open, after our disappointment in other places. Most of them are Roman Catholic, but there was one Orthodox church with a lovely icon screen.
Tonight, Christmas Eve, our group of 10 ate a lovely soup dinner together, (however, no fish soup!).