Cold and dignified

Trip Start Aug 20, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Buzz Hostel

Flag of Croatia  , Grad Zagreb,
Friday, January 29, 2010

The weather was cold, the buildings were dignified and the people were a mix of both. Very fashion conscious and much into going about their business, it was a very go get em, go to work kind of place when I saw it. The reasons I went there, instead of catching a ferry to Italy, was a Time Out magazine that recommended the art galleries, especially the new contemporary art MSU (and the others in Croatia had been pretty good) and the cafes on the street (wrong time of year for those!) Plus a visit to calcium lakes at Plitvitska (phonetic spelling) suggested by an Australian friend that had been there, most definitely the wrong time of year for that!!

Arrived in Zagreb at 6.30am, dark and cold, but found the hostel due to very good directions and was fed hot pancakes and good coffee for brekky which fortified me for a very cold exploration in a sleety city. I started with the Mimara Museum, a remarkably broad collection, especially considering it was one, obviously very rich, person's life work collecting it and in quite an outstanding building. It covered a couple of continents and several centuries of sculpture, ceramics and painting, but he wasn't into modern art, it stopped in the 1800s.

It is really easy to get around Zagreb by tram and no one pays for them, I  couldn't even see anywhere to buy tickets! So I found my way out to the MSU (Museum of Contemporary Art) a fair way out of 'town' in a particularly ugly part of the city, surrounded by a couple of huge shopping centers and a lot of apartment blocks, the tram ride is a good 20mins from the center. The building itself was about as ugly as its surroundings, but I have never been a fan of cantilever architecture (my apologies to Frank Lloyd Wright) especially on a large scale, like this one. But the space inside this was well suited to a contemporary gallery, very  well curated as each exhibition flowed really smoothly from one to the other on several different levels. The art was confronting, sometimes shocking and often very overtly sexual, as well as occasionally humorous. The giant cork screw slide looked like fun too.

The trip out to Plitvitska (I was told to be careful how I said that as it was very similar to the Croatian word for vagina...hhmmm that was almost enough to scare me out of asking for a bus ticket!) was in a word, white, and the snow got progressively heavier as we got closer. Both the other two crazy people, who got off the same bus (a Korean woman and a Japanese guy) and I had been assured that the park would be open, not right. We got dropped at entrance 1 where EVERYTHING was closed and there was about a meter of snow. The Japanese guy just seemed to disappear into thin air, the Korean woman had booked into a hotel in another village and started slipping and sliding towards Split, wheelie bag in tow. I eventually found the administration building for the park, because I saw a car going down that way and figured there must be something there. They rang someone and then told me I could catch  the park tourist train to entrance 2, some 5ks away, which was open. So I tramped down the 200m to the train at station 1. Surprise, surprise, there was no train running. In fact my only choices were to wait for 3hrs by the side of the road, in the cold and snow,  for the bus back or to walk through the cold and snowy forest, with glimpses of the lakes I had come to see, to entrance 2, where there was a cafe and catch the bus back. So off I go. It was actually a lovely walk and only took about an hour, but I wasn't sorry when I got there, I think I'm over snow for a while!
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