Don't mention Harry Kewell...

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Croatia  ,
Monday, July 24, 2006

Hot. So fucking hot. Near Zagreb's main square, I lounge on beautifully comfortable couches, protected from death by magnificent, flaring umbrellas, accompanied by an espressoand ice tea. In the draining heat, the coffee keeps me awake, the latter purely refreshes. And it's really fucking hot. Did I mention that? It might get tis hot in Perth - perhaps - back when Curtley Ambrose used to amble in from the River End. 50 degrees I tells ya. No kidding. It must be. And then, just when you think it couldn't get any hottre, spectacular Croatian women stroll past. Killing me. As the song, most memorably sung in Stuttgart, goes "you're shit, but your chicks are hot". The only song that has over rung as true, at least in my mind, is 'Australia, na na na na na na nah, na na na na na na nah, na na na na na na nah'. Clearly, the heat is messing with my mind...

Zagreb - love it. Classy and sophisticated, mildly pretentious but in a good way, laid back. The city certainly isn't as stuck in the early 90's as the 'no rollerblades on the tram' sign would suggest. Pristine cobblestone piazzas and roads linking Gucci and Armani, the long rows of cafes and bars below spralling umbrellas, remind me of an unidentified Italian city - perhaps Verona.

The city is full of museums, many of which may not of the highest standard, but at least contribute to Zagreb being the most densely museum filled city in Europe. Well, I read that somewhere. And it could well be true. Following significant and intensive deliberation, the committee decided to send me to the Museum Mimara and the Galerie Klovic-Hofe. And fine collections they both were, although the Mimara was a little more intrguiging, Mr Mimara seemingly having some kind of obsession with depictions of Christ breast feeding the Virgin Mary. And then thre are the places to nap rivalling Prague's Island of sleep. When you find such remarkable places to nap, such as on broad, fountain featuring squares, cushiony grass, constantly in the shadow of trees and magnificent 19th century building, shelling out money for a hostel just doesn't seem wothwhile.

Did I mention that it was hot? It's fucking hot. Now, normally, in such heat, I'd just do nothing, and that includes when I was at work. But when you're a tourist with limited time in a place, this sense of obligation hits you, like you have to see everything rain, hail, sleep, tropical storm, armageddon, shine. Son, on the hottest day in the history of the world (not including Xian, China, which I noticed was 49 degrees the other day), I thought I would kill two birds with one stone, and sunk to the depths of swimming in Zagreb's famous Jarun - a lake. Apparently it's one of the things you do in Zagreb - it's almost like an honorary beach. The beach was average - rocks and shit - but the water was spectacular - clear and warm, which reminded me of Bali. Decent...

Travelling, especially in Europe, how this ability to lull you into a false sense of familiarity, almost like you could be at home, but just something's not right. And often, that thing that just isn't right is funny, random, brilliant.One of things that just isn't right in Zagreb is its bogans. Sure, no one does bogans quite like Armadale or Midland - grantd. But Croatian has decent bog lap dudes, but with a slight difference - think dudes doing bog laps, music extremely loud, bass pumping, but substitute Kanye West for James Blunt; take out random doof-doof and replace it with Backstreet Boys. At first, I thought it was a one-off - but no. 6 times now is far too frequent to be a coincidence. And it's brilliant. Love ballad bogan. Love it...

Zagreb has been cool. And yes, I have found the relaxation here that I have longed for. The people, incredibly friendly as long as you don't mention the football -it's a little bit fawlty towers - 'don't mention the war'); the chicks - hotter than the weather; the city generally? beautiful, laid back, reasonably priced. And I'm better than to blame the whole of Zagreb for the bad haircut that I got here. It was made up for by the fact that I got to play an extra in a Croatian soap. If anyone has the time, tune in at 6pm Croatian time, and watch out for the good-looking asian guy waiting at the tram stop. Did I mention that it's fucking hot?

So, to the Top 5. Well, on wandering around and having just randomly seen them, it had to be done. Random. Love it. I present a visual top 5 of the best signs spotted in Zagreb. Go to the photos. And don't neglect the comments to the top 5. Do it...

Split it up.
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