Tales of Croatia. Part Two.
Note: click on any picture to take you to a photo gallery
with more pics.
Continued from part one...
Zagreb is where I spent three weeks of my four week stay in Croatia. The city is not that big by most standards, with about 800,000 people. It's small enough that we often ran into people that we knew while we were just wandering around in the city, wherever we were.
In some areas, it's very urban in feel. And in some of these areas, the buildings are not maintained well. The siding on many buildings is peeling and not renovated even though it needs it. Even the older buildings in the center are really out of shape and more dilapidated than they should be. Renovations are under way on some church buildings, however, and Esad tells me they have some renovation plan starting up where they'll fix up a certain amount of buildings every year. The bottom floor of many buildings anywhere in Zagreb is usually covered in graffiti, mostly ugly tags. I noticed a lack of graffiti in some areas, though, where they presumably clean it up to make it nice for tourists. The city is kept really clean, with a noticeable absence of litter and dog shit. There was a large earthquake in Zagreb in 1881, so many buildings are from after that, but some older stuff survives. There are two hills in the North of the center, Grič (Gradec, or Grič ) on the West and Kaptol on the East. They were two separate towns in the past and were constantly fighting around the center area. There was a river there and a bridge, called Krvavi Most, which means bloody bridge. The two areas eventually became one city, Zagreb, and the river there was built over, with the river continuing to flow underground. The street there is now called Krvavi Most. From Grič especially, you can get a great view of the city, which is where many of my photos were taken from.
The very center area is actually very nice, with tons and tons of outdoor cafes. There are a lot of streets where there's no driving, so these are great cafe areas to hang out, drink beer or coffee, watch the World Cup and people watch. Some very narrow streets, some much wider. Some tourists, but not too crazy.
One of the first things I noticed about the people, though, was that everyone is white. No blacks, Asians or Latinos at all, which is weird. Saw maybe three black people in an entire month there. Not all that many fat people either. And, didn't see any openly gay people. It's still more forbidden there than in the States. While it's diverse in some ways, it's much more of a mono culture than we see in LA, which is extremely culturally diverse.
The people are fucking great. They are the main thing I liked there. They're very friendly and a bit more wild, like, not quite domesticated in some ways. We hung out with cops, nurses, lawyers, artists, musicians and all sorts of folks. They were usually smart, usually knew English almost always great to hang out with.
Gajnice, which is where Esad lives, is in the West of Zagreb, about 20 minutes from the center. It's a bit less urban with a lot more plants, and so for me is comfortable. The plants in this continental part of Croatia are greener and not as desert in color as those in California. While it's not the same, it kind of reminded me more of Pennsylvania or something. Lots of green in the plants. The weather is a bit muggy at times, especially once it warms up.
I had to do some work early on in my stay, which was kind of a drag. But, it was rainy a lot for some days, so not so bad to work on those days. Had really bad luck with the internet and uploading the work. They have only one internet service provider here, so think they were out at some points. We tried uploading in a variety of ways from different places and it was frustrating, but finally got through it. During this work time, our basic routine was to wake up around noon, get food and coffee, then do a few hours work and go out maybe around 6 or 7PM. We'd grab food then go to start drinking with whatever group we were with on that day. During the week, we generally go to a local cafe called Rafaelo, where Esad knows everyone.
He's lived here for 20 years in this very neighborhood, so everyone knows him. On the Sunday after I arrived, we went to the outdoor terrace for this cafe and hung out in the sun, drinking coffee and then beer. Various people came around to say hello and we usually had a large group of folks to hang out with.
So, during the rains we would do some work in the afternoon, then go to Rafaelo and hang out with the locals. We'd just hang out and drink beer and they'd teach me about their culture or language and we'd share humor.
End of part 2.