It turns out that moving half way around the world doesn’t actually leave much time for blogging. (Or cooking, if we’re being honest.) But, we finally made it to Zagreb and are starting to get settled in. I haven’t had time to cook anything photo-worthy, but last weekend was absolutely gorgeous and I thought I should at least share a few photos I snapped of the center of the city.
We started our walk outside the National Theater (Hrvatsko Narodno Kazalište), a beautiful building built by Viennese architects Ferdinand Fellner and Herman Helmer, who also built several theatres in Vienna.
We then headed to the city’s largest outdoor (and indoor) market, Dolac. After admiring all of the beautiful cut and potted flowers, we spent a few minutes browsing inside, where we were impressed by the number of butchers, selling every cut of meat imaginable. We also spotted a few other local delicacies, such as truffles, and yummy cheese from the Croatian island of Pag.
We contemplated picking up a few potted herbs, but decided that they would only suffer on our walk, so we saved them for another day. (We did however, happily note cilantro among them!)
Even though they weren’t red, the piles and piles of peppers reminded us of how close we are to Macedonia! Our minds are already on Ajvar this fall!
Excuse me while I photograph these carrots for the bajillionth time. I could probably make an entire album of just carrot photos, but on the first market tour, carrots are obligatory.
We also spotted a few crafts and souvenirs .
And a whole stall of wicker baskets and furniture.
Finally, we wandered over to the upper town, where the main attraction is definitely St. Mark’s Church, which dates back to the 13th century.
The church is (obviously) instantly recognizable by it’s beautifully tiled roof which features the coat of arms of the city of Zagreb (above) and the coat of arms of the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia.
Every weekend, in front of St. Mark’s Church, a few tourists gather to watch the changing of the guards. Interestingly, the tradition of changing the guard started only a few years ago, although it is a call back to the Cravat Regiment. The word cravat, or kravata, simply means necktie in Croatian, but it derives from a French mispronunciation of the word “Hrvat,” which simply means ‘a Croat’.
Anyway, the Cravat Regiment was a group of Croatian mercenaries fighting for the French king Louis XIII in the 17th century, during the Thirty Years’ War. The story goes that the Parisians were so taken with the dashing and exotic Croatian soldiers and the red neckties that formed part of their uniform that they started wearing replica ‘cravats’ themselves.
One thing led to another, and today millions of men (and a few women too) wear a long, thin, piece of cloth elaborately tied around their necks. Just like the Cravat Regiment. So add the necktie to the ongoing list of Croatian inventions (which also includes the fountain pen!).
From St. Mark’s Church, we wandered down Strossmeyer’s promenade.
For those opposed to the hike up the hill, it is possible to take a short cable car ride to the top. Although, if you spend your time indulging in delicious Croatian wines, you might be better off taking the stairs!
After all that exploring, it was obviously time to stop for a beer. Several people recommended Tolkien’s House for its wide selection of local and imported beer.
We tried San Servolo’s red and pale ale, from the Istrian town of Buzet. We appreciated the depth of flavor of the red. We also tried Zmajsko’s pale ale, which was the best beer we’ve tried so far in Croatia.