After our lovely morning wandering around the beautiful Plitvice Lakes, we drove to Croatia’s capital, Zagreb. Located in the north of the country, close to the Slovenian border, 140kms from Ljubljana, and about 80kms from the Hungarian border, population 800,000.
We drove the last 50kms to Zagreb on the autoceste and joined the huge queue of vehicles at the toll gate – it took us longer to pay the $4 toll than we spent driving on that stretch of road! We were late meeting our Airbnb host, but he wasn’t too fussed – he knows what the local traffic can be like, especially on a Friday afternoon! The apartment was close to the city centre, around the corner from the university and not far from the Botanic Gardens. After our parking woes in Dubrovnik, Greg made sure this one really did have parking on the premises, and it did …. but it was down a very narrow entryway through the building in front of our apartment block. As Greg said – it was probably the width of a standard horse-drawn carriage’s wheels!
Our 30-something host, Neven, lived in the apartment with his family when he was growing up, the family moved to their own places and the parents moved somewhere else and the apartment sat vacant for a while, then became Airbnb accommodation.It was a lovely mix of old and not-so-old – gorgeous parquetry floors, tiny 1960s kitchen, huge bedrooms with timber built-ins, very intricate modern front door lock, brand new front-loading washing machine purchased the day we arrived. Here it is so you can see some photos.
Neven is a computer software engineer and has developed a program for Airbnb hosts (and guests) to help them manage bookings and information. It’s called ‘MyRent’ and so far is only available in Croatia, but Neven is hoping to take it to ther countries as well. Wherever we stayed in Croatia, we had to show our passports – or a couple of times campgrounds would hold our passports overnight and give them back when we paid our bill. I don’t like letting my passport out of my sight and would have much preferred to prepay the bill.
We spent yesterday exploring Zagreb – in the morning we walked around to the local supermarket to get lunch and dinner. There was a small market outside the supermarket with a few stalls selling produce and others selling second-hand stuff. I could only get 2kg bags of potatoes at the supermarket, so bought just enough for dinner and a couple of leeks from one of the market stalls – total cost $2. In the afternoon we walked to the Botanical Gardens and found a Wollemi Pine tree! Very exciting! We saw a tree in a cage and I said ‘heh, if we were at home, that would be a Wollemi Pine.’ And it was – a fine-looking 11 year old tree, about a metre tall.
Then into the main square in town, a stroll through the old town and past the cathedral which reminded us a lot of Burgos Cathedral in Spain and back to the apartment. A nice day, our last in Croatia.
We’ve just arrived in Budapest, found our Airbnb apartment which will be ‘home’ for the next 3 days and will start exploring tomorrow.
more pictures on the photo pages as well here