Zagreb Hrvatska

Croatia in Croatian is written Hrvatska. The capital city, Zagreb, is pronounced Za’-greb, with the emphasis on the first syllable. A walk through Zagreb reveals what feels like all of European history: from Roman walls, medieval gates and baroque churches to grand Austro-Hungarian buildings with Art Nouveau flourishes. On one corner might be the clean lines of an early modernist structure. On the next is a line of brutal housing complexes put up during the communist regime. Our hotel, the Regent Hotel Esplanade, located across from one of the city’s many beautiful parks and near the train station, was built to accommodate travelers on the fabled Orient Express. From the minute I walked into the Habsburg-style lobby, with its marble, stained glass, and ornate metal, I was transported to that glamourous era. 

The country of Croatia has been independent only since the early 1990s, after a millenium of subjugation under the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Fascists,  and the Communists. Standing in the middle of Trg Bana Jelacica (Ban Jelacic Square), surrounded by Viennese Secessionist architecture, artists making site-specific installations, and children playing around the spring that gave Zagreb its name (the place to scoop water), you get the feeling of a vibrant city emerging. I loved the open-air market, where locals buy fruits, vegetables, and fish; the impressive cathedral; and the many outdoor cafes. Tim and I spent hours wandering the streets in search of the perfect cravat—ties were invented in Croatia. We tried to visit an exhibition by Robert Smithson (of Spiral Jetty fame), titled Snoring in the USA, but unfortunately, it was closed. 

I definitely would have liked more time in Zagreb. With so much history, the capital is a fascinating city. But because of our schedule, we could spend only two days there. Up next: the neighboring country of Slovenia.

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6 Responses to “Zagreb Hrvatska”

  1. cynthia rovero says:

    hi jessica,

    i love your detailed description of the city you are currently commenting on. to stay in such a fancy hotel where the orient express people stayed must be mind blowing to say the least. do you find many of the locals able to converse in english with you or are they sticking to their own language mainly?

    i am glad you like the fact that jess/jessica plays an important part in my life. certainly it would be nice to meet up again to discuss the movie and parenting too, feel free to contact me anytime about that.

    you do look beautiful and happy in your photos , like you are truly happy inside and out. i really am enjoying having a wonderful blogging buddy like you.

  2. Jessica says:

    hi cynthia:
    we’re very grateful to our hosts for putting us up in such fancy digs. a far cry from my backpacking days.
    we have found that many of the young people speak english; the second language for older folks seems to be german.
    thanks for writing!

  3. cynthia rovero says:

    i guess you will still be traveling when this months writing mamas group meets? lots of sunny weather here to enjoy. i remember camping vacations too even when our kids were young. i too get amazed at staying in classy places. you doing lots of walking around towns to explore?

  4. janja says:

    Dear Jessica, how lovely description of Zagreb, I’m from Slovenija (nearby country).
    I hope your book will be available to buy on line. My husband and I are trying to adopt from Macedonia:)

  5. Jessica says:

    Cynthia: Lots of walking, from morning to night. A great excuse to eat another fabulous meal! I’ll be back by the next meeting and hope to see you then.

    Janja: I love Slovenija! We just visited many places–Ljubljana, Lake Bled, the caves, hiking in Soteska Vintgar, touring the Soca Valley. Such a beautiful country. The color of the rivers is a blue I have never seen before.
    My book will be published in November, but you can order now online on Amazon. Type in “Mamalita” on Amazon and it will come up. I wish you very good luck in pursuing your adoption.

  6. cynthia rovero says:

    dear janja,

    the descritions jessica is giving of the country are wonderful you must enjoy such a positive review of your homeland. it is wonderful that you are going to add a loving member to your family, so like jessica says”good luck in pursuing your adoption.”

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