I hope you enjoyed our first day antics at Advent in Zagreb (if you haven’t read it yet, you can here)! Now, let me fill you in on our second day in this beautiful city.
The first thing to note is that it had snowed over night and was now a cool -5*C. This wasn’t helped by the fact that we had no hot water and we had what can only be described as a ‘bonding moment’ washing my hair over the side of the shower. After getting ready and leaving the apartment, I realised just how poorly I had packed for this weather. Everything was to look good, nothing was to keep warm. I know, I know, schoolboy error.
We all know how unpleasant it is to be cold. I wanted to cry and I was getting irrationally angry at everything. Moody Meg was out in full force. It was at some point after the 30 minute mark of being unbearably cold that I started to warm up. Maybe my body was shutting down and this was just an illusion.. who knows, I was just thankful to be mildly warmer than I had been.
Anyway, lets get back on track..
We started off trying to hunt down this pancake place I had found on TripAdvisor. Zagreb is very much like New York, it’s all in a grid and as a result, it wasn’t long before we found ourselves at the doors of a tiny cafe with the smell of pancakes in the air.
Kava Tava was the perfect breakfast spot. Small, cozy, a hint of hipster and luckily had one table left. There seemed to be all kinds of people enjoying themselves here. Some on dates, some with friends and some were large groups of families laughing and chatting away whilst sharing plates of food.
After examining the menu for what felt like a lifetime, we finally settled on two pancake stacks and a hot chocolate with cream.
On the left was the Coco Chinkice which consisted of Kava Tava pancakes, grated coconut with dark chocolate sauce & white chocolate sauce on each slice. And on the right was the Funky Chinkice which was Kava Tava pancakes with Nutella and bananas on each slice.
Again, this was surprisingly cheap and we left with very full bellies ready to explore the next part of the city.
We wondered around, getting lost a few times, before stumbling upon a sign simply saying ‘Torture Museum’ – welcoming right?! Being the slightly morbid individuals we are, we looked at each other before bounding off towards the entrance. The next sign pointed up a set of stairs that didn’t look particularly welcoming.. why does this keep happening to us? Or rather, why do we willingly put ourselves in these situations. Your guess is as good as ours.
Heading up the stairs, we were greeted with a heavy black door at the end of a corridor. Pushing it open, a lady with eyeliner that could have been considered a bit too heavy gave us a quick glance before pulling out the card machine. A women of very little words it seemed.
After an hour or so of walking around in the dark, whilst ominous sounds played in the background, reading about different methods of torture throughout the ages, we decided it was time to move on and find the reason we were here.
These are spread out all over the city, almost like some sort of scavenger hunt. There are maps dotted around, they even have an app now, that can help you with finding the smaller attractions away from the crowded market stalls.
Wherever we went, there was music playing and meat sizzling away being cooked to perfection. The main areas such as ‘Fooling Around‘ in Strossmayer square and ‘Zagreb Christmas Tale‘ in the central City square were always busy with young and old alike. There were huts selling your classic Christmas fare and almost double the amount selling everything from sausages to raclette with endless supplies of kuhano vino (mulled wine to us English folk) and hot fritule (Croatian doughnuts) being produced at a speed I can only describe as mesmerising. These came covered in Nutella and piping hot. My tongue has yet to forgive me.
Scouting out the exhibitions became a favourite of mine and I dragged Laura from post to pillar around the city. To be fair to her, she didn’t moan once. I don’t have any pictures that quite capture the experience of one of my favourite moments but there’s a tunnel that runs underneath the historic neighbourhood of Gric, hence it’s name Gric Tunnel, that consists of a passageway, a central hall and then another passageway to take you out the other side. It was originally designed to be a bomb shelter before hosting one of Croatia’s first raves and eventually being part of the Advent celebrations. If you only see one of the Advent exhibitions, make sure it’s this one.
On the other side of the Gric Tunnel is a staircase that takes you up into the Upper Town of Zagreb. The buildings here are distinctly older and the view you get is beautiful. I don’t know what it is about Christmas but it gives me this feeling in my belly that just makes me all giddy and looking out over Zagreb only doubled the giddiness I was feeling.
On the walk up to the Upper Town, there are various signs and viewpoints. You’ve got a ‘what happens in Zagreb, stays in Zagreb’ sign and others that make the perfect Instagram shot. It’s these little extra touches that really add to the atmosphere. You know they’ve gone out of their way to make this Christmas Market something like no other.
Once at the top, your nose is again tantalised with the smells of goulash and fritule. There’s just no escaping, if you planned on sticking to your diet whilst in Zagreb then think again.
We found no problem getting around, all the tourist attractions are clearly sign posted in both English and various other languages. We were on the hunt for the Museum of Broken Relationships. Now, I know what you’re thinking ‘when are these girls going to go see something nice?’ but trust me, this is worth seeing.
It’s essentially a collection of items left over from failed relationships. Either romantic, platonic or those between family members, it’s those items that remind the owner of happy times, sad times and times they showed strength. It is an eye-opening account into the lives of strangers. There was a stuffed caterpillar, for example, that was the mascot for a long distance relationship. Every time they saw each other, they would pull a leg off and they agreed that once all the legs were gone, they would get married. The caterpillar sits there today in all it’s glory with 5 legs still attached. It’s a sobering moment when you realise that you can relate to most, if not all, of the stories that are written there.
You have to buy ticket to enter the museum but it’s a minuscule cost and it goes back into keeping the museum going. We found we had to wait half an hour so grabbed a hot drink to warm up in the cafe next door where the password for the wifi was ‘just_friends’ – with a space in the middle, just how it should be read the sign.
10/10, I would recommend above all else whilst in Zagreb. You can even donate your own items and story if you wish to do so. We bought a book of all the items that had ever been on display for us to open when we move into our first place together. For now, it sits in a draw by my bed. I thought I’d be desperate to open it but it’s nice to have something to look forward to.
At this point, we were starting to get ravenous and it was time for the main event of the weekend.. Laura’s birthday meal.