Zagreb isn't known for being beautiful like the coastal cities of Dubrovnik and Split, but it really isn't Zagreb's fault, as it isn't on a coast.
I think it definitely has its charms, with a very nice city center. However, we didn't stay in the city center, but on the outskirts at the Hotel Omladinski:
The place is a student dorm, with the usual hung-over students aimlessly wandering the halls wearing flip-flops with socks. I can't say I really enjoyed it, but we didn't stay long, as the city center beckoned.
So here is the center:
It's basically a large square with a bunch of outdoor cafes and shops. It was very busy the day we were there, and the weather was nice. The central feature of the square is this statue of an important person on a horse:
This statue is the work of a master, who took the time to render a beautiful and anatomically honest piece of work for the people:
Another statue was the "Old Lady with Cheese on Head", which is placed outside the market where the old ladies sell cheese. I assume this was intentional:
As I had been awake at this point for almost an hour and a half, I started feeling hungry with the kind of hunger that your average Corny Bar (a bar of sugared corn, husks removed) cannot satisfy:
But what to eat? At this point I can recommend the local Zagreb tourist guide book, "Zagreb in your Pocket", which you can pick up for free almost anywhere (well, almost anywhere in Zagreb). This little guide revolutionized the genre by both not taking itself too seriously, and by actually being funny. For instance, check out this review of the Maharadža Indian restaurant, where we ended up:
Maharadža is a place that brings us tears of joy every time we re-discover it, for it's so dam good it feels like the first time every time! With an impressive array of Indian options including a number of superb curries, the cooks know how to satisfy your tummy bored with same old crap. It's well spiced and will have you sweating in no time. The interior gets you into relax mode immediately.
I found this advice to be on the nose. I also liked the review of McDonald's, with it's ode to the fry:
The tram was crowded and a generous scent of unfiltered human body odour pervaded into every crevice. Just then some jerk with a golden-arched to-go bag entered the car. The smell of pure fry immediately overwhelmed the stench and quickly had everyone in the car salivating to the floor-boards. That, dear friends, is the freakish and almost terrifying power of the McDonald's french fry.
So here is the Maharadža:
For those keeping score, I had the chicken:
And off we were, walking around the town for the rest of the afternoon. I saw this guy in the square:
I walked through a nice park:
In which the homeless were being harassed by the fuzz:
I saw an old jeep:
I learned a local law:
And I found a good name for a band:
Zagreb was fun, go if you are within a 20-mile radius. Next, it was waterfall time!
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes National Park is an extremely popular tourist destination, where you get the opportunity to walk around a beautiful environment filled with ducks and waterfalls, and then if you are lucky, you can take pictures of the ducks and the waterfalls:
The trail we took is supposed to take about four hours, but we got it done in five, mainly due to the fact that we got stuck behind a gigantic tour group of retired French people:
Some of my French companions didn't realize that the group was their people (and could speak French), and perhaps due to some cultural attitudes towards such a group, made disparaging and audible comments about their speed.
Then, when the aforementioned companions realized that they had been heard, and were in danger of being beaten by very sensible shoes, they suggested that we run away. We did, but the tour group caught up to us at the boat ride across the lake. Thankfully the retirees were merciful, and only scowled at us, which we deserved:
And then it was back to Hungary, headed towards home. This vacation was quickly coming to an end, and a sad return to my 7-hour work week was looming large...