City of open-air events and new friends…

Zagreb, Croatia

After our morning tour we continue our journey to Zagreb. The highway was free the route quite simple and the border open – Mission one accomplished.
Mission two proved itself to be a bit more tricky – finding our hotel for the next two nights.
We booked a place about 7kms outside of the city in a small and quiet suburb which proved itself not only small and quiet but also hard to find. So after passing trough the same section of the highway again and again we finally found (after very helpful guidance from a local) the right house – and guess what – we arrived too early.

But the landlord ( actually his mother owns the house but he and his brothers are in charge of renting it) offered us juice and prepared the room for us way ahead of time… We even met his little sister which obviously loves to greet guests out of the window and then magically disappears, hide and seek Zagreb edition.

After a quick power-nap we went into the city to get a first impression of what is going on there and how Zagreb looks like. But here our next mission to solve started – parking!

You know it’s not that easy to figure out the parking rules of a foreign city if you don’t speak their language. I think everyone of you who went by car into a different country knows this problem (I myself had its just a few weeks ago when I did a trip in Spain).

We somehow even managed that. After a bit of sightseeing and staring at the beautiful churches, we found ourself in front of a big stage right in the middle of the main square where a local folk-group presented traditional Croatian dances to the audience. It was awesome to see how the dancers, which were guided by a live band, told a story with their dance. To be fair, there was also some singing (which was quite good, no doubt) but as we don’t speak croatian we needed to follow the story by watching the performers dance – I would say it worked!

After we saw this nice event we just walked along a street leading away from this square to find ourselves in a park where there also was some kind of live music. But this time nothing traditional. It was more of an outdoor food and drink festival with live music presented by a DJ.

So after one beer at this event we wanted to meet up with likeminded people. And what better way to do this then to use the new hangout-feature couchsurfing has to offer. And this my dear readers is how we met our new British friends, but let us start at the beginning…

So we setup a meeting not far from the park where we met Daisy, a British girl studying in Zagreb. After a few complications concerning the meeting point (who thought that there are so many blue clocks on the main square in Zagreb) we finally met her. She was in company of one of her friends from Latvia who also studies in Zagreb and Anastasia with her friend Conner two British travelers who just came from Ultra festival. So from one second to the other we where 6 people and our goal was another outdoor concert Daisy was interested in going to.

Sadly we reached there quite late so we only could listen to two or three songs but we had some very nice conversations and we figured out that Anastasia and Conner also want to go to Budapest next – which lead us to the plan to meet them there again…

Our very long day ended with a huge slice of pizza at a 24hour restaurant (as this place is usually for the people who come straight from a party, you can imagine how the taste is – but hey, pizza is pizza after all…)

This time we reached our hotel quite fast and without any unnecessary mileage and fell to bed like stones sinking on the ground of an ocean. It was a long day and the adventure just started…

Our second day in Zagreb started at noon when we drove again into the city to meet an other traveler. First destination of today is the “Museum of broken Relationships” where we met Freddie, a funny girl from Sweden who is traveling through eastern Europe at the moment. She was in Croatia to attend a festival. I think Sid likes her. 🙂

So we met her in front of the museum and after that we still needed to find a parking spot, which we did after some time. On our way back to the museum we walked by a tunnel, and as it is with explorers, we wanted to know where this one goes.

Here we meet Dragan (We sadly forgot his name so we decided to give him this one), who explained us lots about Zagreb and its culture. We also learned that the tunnel is part of a system leading around under the city and was used during the war in (Ex-)Yugoslavia. In total I would say he’s a very funny person who likes talking about religion, football and politics. He even likes it so much that, when he starts he doesn’t need to breath while talking…

So after our small break we finally managed to reach the museum. The story of this museum is quite as interesting as the museum itself. It all started as an art project about broken relationships and the “Souvenirs” you keep. As more and more people brought pieces of memory they had from their former relationships, friendships, lovers they lost and so on, a permanent exhibition was created – the museum of broken relationships. It’s a touching walk through the stories and emotions of people, a path through what counts in life. I think there is a quite fitting quote from the Scottish movie “Perfect Sense” with Ewan McGregor and Eva Green in the lead roles.

“But first the shining moments, a shared flinching of the brains temporal lope, a profound appreciation of what it means to be alive. But most of all, a shared urge to reach out to one another, to offer warmth, understanding, acceptance, forgiveness, love…”

But now enough of the sadness and on with our adventure with continues at a food market where we met Umit. A guy from Turkey who was on a business trip in Croatia and is now staying a few more days to see some of the country. He is living in St. Petersburg which leads to the conclusion that we will probably meet him again there but for now were wandered around the streets of Zagreb engaging in interesting conversation.

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Surprisingly we ended up at the same park we ended up the night before. This time there was no DJ but instead a nice female singer who gave hits from the 80s and 90 to the best. Her attempts to motivate the listeners failed for the first few times but in the end she managed to motivate a few bystanders of singing with her, and it wasn’t that bad.

So while we were sitting there and listening to the music we got company of other couchsurfers. A girl and a guy from Sweden and a guy from Bavaria. Everyone with its unique story on how they got here. Eva (Swedish girl) for example is living since some time in China and is studying there, while our Bavarian friend has a quite – let’s say crazy – goal. He started in Bavaria with his bike (we are talking bike as in bicycle and not as in motorbike) and wants to travel till central Asia. His journey brought him this evening to the same park we are sitting in.

And to make the whole bunch of people we are now even more intercultural Sid tried to explain them how to pronounce an Indian word which uses a sound which doesn’t exist in one of the languages now put together, German, Swedish, Turkish and of course English as there need to be a common language to have conversation :).

So now you might think that the adventure of this day has come to an end, but NO, not yet. After saying goodbye to our new friends, which are planing to sleep in the park as they couldn’t find a hostel and dropping off Freddie at her place, we went on the search for our car.

What stared at around 1am continued at 2am and 3am till we finally reached home at 4am, but why did it took us so long you might ask, let me tell you…

It took us one hour to find the car, but this wasn’t actually the problem, paving the parking garage was. We ran out of kuna (the croatian currency) on the way, so we had to find an ATM first, also this wasn’t the problem. After finding one the story starts…
We received to big of a paperbill to pay the machine as it only would take smaller bills, which you can’t get an AMT. So we thought we would just ask someone on the street if he or she could change our bill into smaller ones.

After one and a half hours of asking strange people if they could change a 100 kuna bill into smaller we still haven’t got it. In total the people even thought they couldn’t help up were quite friendly and polite except of one guy, who seriously wanted to start an argument with “you fucking tourists” so the coins he thought he could give us as a present he could keep, because our mission wasn’t to collect change its was to change our bill into smaller bills, which we finally did around 3.15pm. A small store at the main square was still open and we managed to catch two fish with one hook. Daniel got not only the bill changes but he also got a strawberry ice cream he didn’t know he wanted. It just took us almost 3 hours to get home but in the end we did it and we realized that exchanging money isn’t that easy, not even in Europe.

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