Zagreb: first full day.

Friday 28th September.

Our walking tour today was not until 11 am and so that gave us plenty of time to have a slower paced morning but still with an early walk.  Mark and I had just been talking about how foreign Croatian is to our ears and how strange it is that the language between Vienna and Croatia differs so much when they are so close when we saw something to warm the hearts of many an Aussie; a venue offering Australian wines and televising the AFL Grand Final. This made Mark even more fond of Zagreb and we decided to check it out later today to find out what kind of TV and coverage they will be offering!

Our walking tour was with Free Spirit tours and was for 2 hours covering the main sites and attractions in Zagreb. This was a great introduction to the city and I’d highly recommend them if you’re ever in this neck of the woods. Some of the key points covered in the tour include:

  • Zagreb: sounds similar to ‘can you grab me some water’ and is a legend of a soldier striking a water supply in the now-main town square.
  • Ban Jelacic: his statue is in town square as he is celebrated for ending feudalism in 1848.
  • Zagreb:
    • now one town but was initially two towns: a high town and the lower Catholic town. 1850 was when the two old towns connected.
    • The two towns were once divided by a river running through a valley and that is now the street lined with cafes, bars and restaurants, , Tkalciceva Street. The street was converted from a River in 1899 due to river becoming polluted.
    • Croatia is part of EU for 5 years but still in process of joining so no Euro and not in schengen obligation yet.
  • Kuna currency: A kuna is a kind of mink and the fur used to be used as a form of currency.
  • Old town: upper:
    • the historic Wall was built 13th Century to protect from Genghis Kan. Was opened in the morning and closed at night.
    • St Mark since 13th Century.
    • St Marks Square was the main meeting center until 19th Century.
  • Lower town: is a bit older at 11th century. Catholic Church town.
  • Zagreb Cathedral:
    • there has been a Church here since 11th Century.
    • Cathedral wall built in 16th Century to keep out Ottomans.
    • The Tower renovation has been in progress 28 years.
    • the 3 x chandeliers were donated from a Las Vegas Casino, ‘Gold Coast’, that was being renovated.
    • The Cathedral front stone replaced with sandstone, hence new looking, but all other walls are still limestone.
  • Nikolas Tesla: was Croatian and brought electricity to the town.
  • Old Town:
    • they still have Lamp lighters that manually light the gas lamps each night!
    • Oldest School in Croatia: from 1600s and started by the Jesuits.
    • Historically, since 1877 a cannon was shot to inform churches it was 12 noon. Still fired today but without cannon ball!


After the tour we headed back to Tkalciceva Street, to have lunch and then stopped off to sample the traditional sweet dish of Strukli, at La Struk. We were pretty exhausted by this stage so headed home to rest up for a while. At 5 pm we ventured out again and retraced some of our steps from the morning walking tour before dropping in on Vinoteka Bornstein, the venue showing the AFL Grand Final. We sampled some of their wine before heading down to the Dolac market area for dinner at Na Dolcu Bistro. This was a great meal, much cheaper than the night before and we even manged to score some vegetables!

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