Fifty Dirhams a Day

ZAGREB

October 2016

50 AED = 100 kuna

The common responses I get when talking to friends from the Balkans about traveling to Zagreb are along the lines of “why Zagreb? It’s just a city,” or “there is nothing there, only concretes.” Most people would recommend going to the seaside. I realized, however, during my trip to Croatia over the fall break that Zagreb, the capital city, is quite underrated.

There are at least two reasons you should visit Zagreb. First, unlike the touristy cities on the coast where all you will see is gigantic tourist groups and selfie sticks, in Zagreb you will be able to do some real people watching in additional to the tourist attractions. Sit in one of the hundreds of caffe bars thats serve both coffee and alcohol during the day and observe the daily lives of pedestrians who actually live in this city, or at night, have a glass of wine in a hipster bar next to local artists. Zagreb is an artistic city where creativity can be found everywhere. Graffiti can be seen on the street walls and a seemingly ordinary bar on a normal street might turn out to be a place where artists gather at night. Second, the best thing about Zagreb is that unlike the more touristy Dalmatian cities, prices in Zagreb are way lower, for food at least, which I assume is what you really care about.

Fifty dirhams is around a hundred kuna. As I mentioned earlier, food costs way less in Zagreb compared to coastal cities such as Zadar. In addition to that, all the sights are within walking distance, so you don’t have to spend money on transportation. Visit a local bakery and get a burek, a kind of baked pastry with cheese, meat or other ingredients stuffed between the thin flaky dough for around 7 kuna. It is common in Croatia and something my dear friend from the Balkans would scream for, but don’t get too greedy and keep in mind that it is more filling than it looks.

The best thing about Zagreb is that, unlike the more touristy Dalmatian cities, prices for food in Zagreb are way lower.

Another must is Ćevapi, traditional Croatian minced meat either served on a plate or in flatbread. Try it in the local restaurant Vagabund with fries and onions for 38 kuna, or have it at an even lower price at a fast food place. If you are a fan of beer, do not miss the daily happy hour of Pivnica Medvedgrad between 5pm and 6pm where you can get a “bear paw sandwich,” their specialty sandwich that can go either with meat or Ćevapi, and your choice of traditionally brewed craft beer for only 9 kuna. My personal favourite is Grička vještica.

Photo Credit

Alice Huang

Do not miss the Museum of Broken Relationships, with a collection of objects related to heart-breaking stories submitted by broken souls from all over the world. Some of the stories are typical and easy to relate to, while others are very intense: be prepared for an emotional journey. Admission is 25 kuna for adults. My favorite was an antique watch with a very short, but subtle and delicate description that says, “A gift from S.K. from 1987. She loved antiques – as long as things were old and didn’t work. That is precisely the reason we are not together anymore.” The brilliantly heartbreaking analogy gave me goosebumps.

Finally, visit the Mirogoj cemetery around 15 minutes away by foot from the city center. It is elegant and peaceful and the perfect place for a walk, not creepy at all. Don’t forget to take Tkalciceva Street (whose name you should not even attempt to pronounce) if you are walking back to the city at night. It is the center of nightlife, and you can spend what is left of your 100 kuna on a glass of good wine.

FURTHER READING

LITERATURE AND
CREATIVE WRITING

Interview with Charles Siebert (I)

LITERATURE AND
CREATIVE WRITING

Interview with Charles Siebert (II)

SHORT STORY

The Open Door

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