The trip from Bratislava to Zagreb was easy and uneventful. Moving between locations can be a tiring experience, as departures and arrivals in foreign countries are often fraught with unforeseen complications.
Surprisingly, there weren’t any train connections, so I took a bus – seven hours with a brief layover in Vienna. Eliminating airport hassles and chaos made the longer trip worthwhile. The bus – Mercedes Flixbus – was comfortable and efficient with a great WiFi connection.
The ride between Bratislava and Vienna was packed, but Vienna to Zagreb was sparsely occupied with a variety of interesting people. Unfortunately, the weather was foggy with a torrential downpour and zero visibility. The highway meandered through heavily forested areas. In late afternoon, the downpour subsided, uncovering pretty villages, rolling landscapes, and a glorious sunset.
It’s been years since my last bus trip. During 2013, I took the bus from Cappadocia to Bodrum Turkey, and in 2015, traveled the length of South America, taking buses from Columbia to Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia with several stops along the way. Buses are the best choice for exploring South America, unless you ride a motorcycle or drive. Flights are limited. The roads I saw during that trip looked dangerous. Highways zigzagging through the Andes are strewn with remembrance memorials. Flowers and candles are placed to mark the spot of fatal accidents – but I’m getting sidetracked…
I was sad to leave Bratslava. It took a month to get comfortable, befriend a few locals, and find restaurants and other places I enjoyed. It’s often like that, even if it’s a difficult adjustment in the beginning. Some may think my kind of travel is a “luxury,” but I don’t see it that way. Spending extended time in each location is beneficial and the best way to learn about countries and cultures. It can be done inexpensively. Although they’re not always easy, all of my travel adventures have been enriching.
My Zagreb apartment is well located a few minutes from Old Town. The Croatian National Theatre is a five-minute walk away, and opera and ballet performances scheduled for the next few months exceed my wildest dreams! Performances include works by Verdi, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, and contemporary Croatian composers, including Ivo Josipović. His opera Lennon is about the murder of John Lennon. Josipović was President of Croatia from 2010 to 2015, and is a creative multi-talented person who has received many awards and distinctions.
Unless the winter turns bitter cold, I plan to spend a few months in Zagreb. So far, no signs of shivering, freezing people, and my apartment is warm and cozy. Most Zagreb accommodations are fully booked through December, with holiday makers driving prices way up.
Attached are a few media shots and photos of street scenes near my apartment. Photos don’t do the beautiful old buildings justice. During my first Zagreb visit in June 2013, it was summer, and I stayed in a completely different part of town, further away from the center.
Zagreb is a busy, vibrant city, full of activity, with a growing “hipster” crowd! There are many great restaurants nearby, and most seem reasonably priced. So far, I’ve eaten at two restaurants – one Italian and my favorite, Hemingway Bistro, across the street from the National Theater. The ambience is wonderful and food there is delicious. A foodie heaven, Zagreb is clearly a city that appreciates fine dining and culinary excellence! On weekends reservations are necessary. The street food is good too!
It’s been foggy and rainy the past few days. I’m feeling slightly disoriented – new location, language, currency. I’m struggling converting back and forth among Euro, USD, and the Croatian Kuna and trying to ignore all the background noise about the pending European “energy crisis”. I came with Euros, but Croatia is still using the Kuna, until they join the twenty-six countries that comprise the EU Schengen Area. My landlord, Mislav, says Croatia is set to become part of the Schengen Area in January 2023 – not exactly sure how that affects my visa status?
Pozdrav iz Zagreba. Or, if you prefer, Dobro Došli. I’m going to enjoy discovering Zagreb with you.
As far as trains are concerned – it has been over ten years since I was there, but at that time, all the regions in the Balkans were still trying to recover from the damage of the civil war post the breakup of Yugoslavia. Much of the rail stock had been donated by countries who had made theirs obsolete. A well-equipped bus/coach was much more preferable. And you had a short break in Vienna which would have broken the hours.
And just think! Your carbon footprint would have been a minor percentage of flying :-)