It was time to say arrivederci to Rome and make my way to Croatia. This was a bit of a ridiculous travel route I took but I booked this flight with flight credit I had from 2020, and so I went Rome to Amsterdam then to Zagreb. So it was a full day of travel. Once I arrived in Zagreb I dumped my bags at the AirBnb I was staying at and wandered off to check out the area and get some food.

After eating I had a bit of a wander before heading back to my apartment to just chill out. The first and last days anywhere are really not days in a place. They are just transit days. Coming to Croatia and basing myself here for travels has been a large part of these travel plans. There is a lot of my family history that is Croatian, My Mum’s side is mostly all from here and also my Dad’s Grandfather’s side. So my first day in Zagreb was actually assigned to doing some admin. I walked off to see if I could track down a copy of my Great Granddad’s birth certificate, it wasn’t that simple to just get it, but I did get more information on where to go looking for it next. There isn’t necessarily a centralised point for documents from 1902.

After that on my list was finding a good mobile data plan.
I had sorted out a phone number with call/sms/data that works everywhere I am going before I left Australia so I had all that as soon as I arrived in Europe. However at the house I will be staying in for most of my time in Croatia the internet is not yet connected and I want something with more data then my phone plan. I have some Zoom meetings and stuff coming up so need to make sure I have stable internet for those. Ended up finding an unlimited data option that I just have to pay for week to week that I want to use it. Great for the weeks coming up soon that I will be at festivals, so no need for me to charge it that week.

Anyway, after ticking all the boxes of things I needed to sort out I wandered around a little bit and decided to jump on AirBnb Experiences and see if there was anything happening that day. I came across Discover Zagreb on an Eclectic Tour for that evening starting at 5 so booked myself in. I grabbed myself some lunch, sat in the park and ate it, before heading back to the apartment to chill out for an hour or 2 before the tour.

Turns out I got a private tour. I met Karlo at the meeting point to find out I was the only one that evening. He had just added the tours that day (obvs not long before I looked what was on) and it was just kind of by luck or meant to be that I booked into it. He was a fantastic tour guide and it was awesome to just get to walk about Zagreb with someone full of historic knowledge of both the city and the Croatian people. We walked around for almost 4 hours. It was such a lovely way to connect with the city and also to just get to hang out with someone. As it was just the two of us we got to get to know a bit more about each other’s lives in more detail than you would on a group tour. Quite a few locations we visited were things I had seen or walked by myself over the last 24 hours but the lowdown on them from Karlo was fascinating and provided a great appreciation and understanding of what I was looking at.

Karlo runs Bespoke Croatia which offers a range of tours and also can customise and plan tours for your visit based on your interests, budget, and all that jazz.

It was a bit of a whirlwind visit to Zagreb as I only booked 2 nights here. Part of the reason for that was knowing that I would be back (I will be back on the 22 July) and I don’t need to rush and see everything at once. I am in Croatia until the end of August (7 weeks) for this leg. Waiting to find out about some things that will determine just when I am back here again too, either in October or December.

Unfortunately I won’t be able to do certain things that were on the list of ‘3 things I have to do when I visit Croatia’ that my Teta gave me during our final conversation and goodbye. One of these was to see the Zagreb Cathedral. It’s currently closed and under renovations due to the 2020 earthquakes. Will have to see about doing that in another year’s trip.

I was booked in to catch the bus from Zagreb to Otočac on the Friday so after the tour I just headed back to my accomodation to pack up my bags and chill out. The next day I walked to the bus station. I had about 5 hours until my bus was leaving but I came to check my luggage in for storage. It ended up costing 24 HRK ($5) to leave my luggage there while I went and explored Zagreb some more.

On my tour the previous night Karlo had shown me the Lotrščak Tower and let me know that at 12pm the canon was fired. Every day. Well it had actually taken a break for the first time ever after the earthquakes that hit Zagreb in 2020 and Covid. Anyway the cannon was going to be fired today so after dropping off my luggage and stopping for some brunch I made my way up to the Tower. There was a pathway to it that was pointed out to me by Karlo and I had noticed the street was full of graffiti so naturally this is the way I chose to walk there. You can catch the world’s smallest funicular if you prefer which I did last night.

I didn’t have my gimbal with me so was just free handing holding my phone and I was taken aback by how much my body shook and my arm recoiled when the cannon was fired. I couldn’t help but giggle at how my body reacted in that moment. I love getting to experience these types of things. I knew it would be loud but the jolt in my body to the sound I wasn’t expecting for some reason.

After the cannon I went and walked around the Museum of Broken Relationships. It’s a great collection of human stories and some make you giggle, others you sigh at, and then some you just can’t help but tear up at. I think the one that affected me most was the bedroom door that had been donated to the exhibition. A mother had contributed the door to her son’s bedroom. He had died and his friend’s had come over and filled the door with their messages. I guess in part this makes me teary as it reminds me of Jayne’s funeral and her wish for us all to decorate her coffin with our love notes. It’s something that seems so small but the impact and the sentiment of it goes deep. The words and feelings that linger when someone is gone can be challenging. Grief is such a strange thing. I can totally understand how overwhelming seeing that door every single day for that mother would be. Just walking past that room would be a challenge, let a lone that door. I like that this door was left to something like this, that her son and the love that others had for him can be felt and appreciated by strangers from all over the world.

By the time I had looked through the tales in the museum it was time to wander back towards the bus station. I found the toilets there that I had to pay to enter through a turnstile to use. That was a first for me. Then I went and collected my luggage and made my way to the bus. I don’t do buses. This was a big thing for me. I had been psyching myself up for the Croatian bus challenge since well before I left Melbourne. Anyway, it was pretty simple and painless really. Once I arrived I was met by some family members and lots of smiles. I had been anxious about how meeting people I have never met before but am related to might go but it was funny how all of that dispersed as soon as I was greeted. Everyone just felt really comfortable and it was nice to meet people who I had heard about for years.