Museums, Galleries and more

Zagreb July 25-29, 2013
We arrived in the Croatian capital Zagreb after a  boring 7 hour train (and bus, as there was track work) trip from Split.  The countryside is pretty bleak for about 2/3 of the distance. A rocky landscape with sparse vegetation. It is difficult to image how anybody ever managed to eke out an existence from such a depauparate land.   On arriving in Zagreb our first impression is that of a very relaxed cosmopolitan  European city.

Unfortunately much of what gives this city it’s elegance, its architecture – the elegant and beautiful buildings many of which date back to the 1800’s – have fallen into some disrepair. Ugly and mindless graffiti was prominent on just about every surface – except government buildings, of which there are many.

Walking around in the evening we managed to stumble onto the happening street in Zagreb – Ul Tklaciceva. We had a great meal at Ivica and Marica (Hansel and Gretel) restaurant. Simple and great tasting seafood risotto for me and grilled squid with grilled potatoes for Hammer. Such a relief to find great tasting and reasonably priced meals after the pretty ordinary and very expensive food in Split. This place is also the first time I have come across the custom of a cover charge in a restaurant. Not sure I like it, I would rather they charged more for food.

 Lots of people  out and about enjoying the warmth of a summers evening. Wonderful to see couples dancing on the rotunda of Strossmayerov Square as we walked from our hotel in the early evening.

The following day we visited  the cities religious icons the city Cathedral which was founded in the 10th century and the Church of St Mark whose colorful roof  depicts the coat of arms of the various groups that make up Croatia.

The highlight of the day though or maybe highlights was the visit to the History  Museum with an exhibition of the artifacts recovered from a 16th Century shipwreck in the Adriatic. Amazing recovery of so many items that have survived more that 400 years under the sea including a chest that contained a roll of damask fabric and several items of clothing. Outstanding exhibition, amazing artifacts all housed in an interesting Baroque period building for $2 entry fee and we were the only ones there. Our most intriguing visit for the day though was to to the Museum of Broken Relationships.Simply wonderful trawl through artifacts of relationships gone wrong.

On our second day, the temperature had soared to mid 30’s, a very dry heat that seems to sap all energy from you. We found refuge from the heat in the fantastic Mimara Museum. A museum whose collection was donated by a single colector, Ante Topic-Mimara. The breadth of the collection was amazing from artworks, glass, furniture from around the world.  Amazing to think of glassware being made in the  first century and then surviving through the ages. A very impressive addition to the museum is that of a 2nd century statute of a Greek athlete recently discovered by a diver off the Adriatic coast. Enormous in size, beautifully proportioned and incredibly preserved.

Having filled our cup of culture and history we ventured back to nature by taking a Sunday hike to Sljeme ski resort in the mountains to the north of the city. Temperature by now was in the high 30’s and the cool of the forest offered some respite from the heat.  When we returned to the furnace that the city had become by late afternoon we could see why you would spend as long as possible lying in the shade under a tree with a creek tumbling nearby. We were grateful to have the comfort of an air-conditioned hotel room to get back to.

Judging by the weather reports our visit to this interesting city coincided with a heat wave.  Business are beginning to shut down for the summer holidays and all talk is of getting away to the seaside.