Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Croatia  ,
Friday, July 15, 2005

We thought our over night trip from Sarajevo would be on a coach. But a sort of overgrown minibus turned up with a bastard driver who shoved everyone on. He had a massive argument and tug-o-war with a girl and her cello. She wanted it on the seat next to her but the bus was packed. Eventually he agreed it could stay on board - squeezed into the tiny aisle. It was a bugger of a night.

We arrived into Zagreb at about 6am so we headed over to the main train station and put our bags into the left luggage. Zagreb looked colourful, clean and empty at that time of the morning. We wandered around a bit and when the tourist office opened we grabbed a map and did two walking tours taking in most of the significant places of interest in both the old and new towns. Churches, galleries, theatres, squares etc. There is still a daily market called 'the belly of Zagreb' where you can buy fruit and veg, flowers, shoes etc and touristy stuff. There is even a funicular!

There were once four gates to the city but all have been destroyed over time barr one. The only stone one remaining is very famous. After a fire in 1731 that consumed all of the wooden elements, one thing remained - a painting of the Bless Virgin and Child. Miraculously untouched! It is housed in the new gate built in 1760 and is worshipped constantly. There are flowers, candles and plaques adorning the walls from all over the world. There are even pews so you can sit and have a pray. There were a whole load of people there praying, buying and lighting candles and other religious souvenirs when all of a sudden someone in the crowd broke into song. Everyone joined in (except us, we didn't know the words!) We left them singing and visited a 13th century tower that shoots a canon at 12 noon every day so that everyone in the city can synchronize watches! Nearby is the baroque Jesuit church of St Catharine. It's possibly got to be the most amazing interior I've ever seen in a church. Bit kitsch though. The walls and ceilings are painted a kind of salmon pink and are covered with angelic plaster figurines, flowers and vines and paintings. There were some interesting statues, sculptures and fountains around the city too. After the four ancient towns we'd visited in Croatia, this was a complete turnaround. It had a very western european feel. It was really enjoyable.

We had bought onward tickets to Budapest so went back to the station to get our bags and catch the train. Onward!!
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