Friday, November 1, 2013

Destinations: Zagreb at a Glance

The very best thing to happen to a frequent traveler is when a familiar destination surprises you in happy, unexpected ways. That's how I felt roaming the streets of Zagreb this summer. I'd been a few times before and, I have to admit, the city's allure escaped me.

Maybe that's because I was too young to appreciate the city's history and legends, or because I was always on another person's schedule. Or maybe it's because Zagreb has really come into its own in recent years. Yet, some of the things I loved most on this trip - the architecture, the folklore, the people - have been the same for ages.

Whether it's me or the city that's grown, I still don't know. But one thing I'm sure of is that Zagreb is a destination worthy of its own itinerary. So many people flock to Croatia's coast and I understand that...the Adriatic Sea has forever spoiled me when it comes to beach vacations.

All of that said, you're missing a huge piece of the Croatia puzzle if you've never been to its capital. In my opinion, you can't fully fall in love with Croatia until you've fallen in love with Zagreb.

Over the next month, I'll be blogging about my favorite memories and highlights from Zagreb and other places in Croatia. Today we'll start with a basic photo overview. I hope you'll come along for the whole ride!

Zagreb at a Glance - Style Jaunt, A Fashionable Travel Blog (Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic)
Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic
We stayed at Hotel Dubrovnik right in Ban Jelačić Square. That meant easy access to the historic Gornji Grad (Upper Town) and one of my favorite things about Zagreb, the Dolac Market. We visited pretty much every day. The above photo is a view of the square and Ban Jelačić statue, constructed in honor of the man who abolished serfdom in Croatia. Zagreb locals use the statue as an easy gathering spot, meeting friends and family "under the horse's tail" for a day out in the city.

Zagreb at a Glance - Style Jaunt, A Fashionable Travel Blog (Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic)
Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic

Zagreb at a Glance - Style Jaunt, A Fashionable Travel Blog (Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic)
Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic
Looking at Zagreb's skyline from Gornji Grad is practically a history lesson. You can trace how the architecture changes the further you move out from its historic city center. I couldn't take my eyes off of the Zagreb Cathedral's ornate spires, which you can spot from almost anywhere.

Zagreb at a Glance - Style Jaunt, A Fashionable Travel Blog (Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic)
Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic

Zagreb at a Glance - Style Jaunt, A Fashionable Travel Blog (Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic)
Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic

Zagreb at a Glance - Style Jaunt, A Fashionable Travel Blog (Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic)
Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic
You'd be hard-pressed to find a group of Europeans who do a coffee break better than my fellow Croats. Zagreb even has an official name for it - špica. On Saturday mornings, locals flock into town for a mass coffee date where they catch up on gossip and people-watching. It's a must if you're in town on the weekends. Do it. You won't regret it.

There's a lot to see outside of the city center, too. The photos above are two of my favorite highlights. Maksimir Stadium is where the Dinamo soccer team plays. The color blue is symbolic in Zagreb; I'll explore that story in a later post. Then there's this monument dedicated to Nikola Tesla, which was created by Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović and sits on a street named for the famous inventor.


I love the first picture in this series because I feel like it brings a tour of Zagreb full-circle. Kralj (King) Tomislav was Croatia's first, credited for uniting the kingdom in the year 925. If you look closely between his statue and the yellow building, you'll see the Cathedral's spires.

I didn't know until this visit that Croatia had a stop on the Orient Express - passengers stayed at Hotel Esplanade. See? Happy surprises!

My favorite travel companion (husband-photographer-videographer) came along for this ride, so I figured I'd end the post with some choice selfies from the trip.

See even more photos in my Facebook album, Zagreb: At A Glance.

Next post will explore Gornji Grad in more detail, so check back soon.

What is your favorite travel surprise from a recent trip?

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