This past weekend I had a chance to see why Zagreb has been the talk by neighbours, friends and media. Last year was voted as number one in Europe beating out London, Budapest, and 50 other cities. The best way to see it is by actually being there as pictures and hearing about it is not the same. We traveled by bus as the city has many pedestrian areas and parking can be a nightmare. (Especially if you don’t know where everything is or the street names)
The center of Zagreb and other parts of the city had this magical feeling with many Christmas lights and decorations in every corner. The attention to detail and the majestic buildings really made it feel like Christmas. There was no snow but they did a great job making fake snow covering the trees and buildings. The illusion was perfect as it looked like fresh snow had just fallen. Zagreb was full of life and you could hear many languages being spoken.
There were many places to try everything from traditional Croatian food of sausages, Prosciutto, and Cheese to some new international foods. With many different choices of food to choose from it was difficult to choose from at times. Wine was everywhere in christmas market to choose from and the specialty of the season was readily availble Kuhano vino(Cooked wine). For those that love chocolate they had everything imaginable even Choco Kebab. The food was incredible and the café bars were packed inside and out with the heated patios.
I was able to find a touch of home (Toronto Canada) in Zagreb at a restaurant called “The Sri Lankan Curry Bowl”. This was the place to be if you want to try some great food that is not avaible in many parts of Croatia. One of the owners Clement Senaratne was on site and had a great conversation with him. The great icebreaker was when I asked him where is the famous Roti. I have found out he has only been in the business for just 1 year and is doing well. (opened December 4 2015) Clement was full of great spirits as this is second time being part of it. He said that this year Advent festival in Zagreb has been even bigger than last years. The food is great to have as it is a comfort food with many great familar spices I have grown used. He has two location as this one in the picture is a temporay setup just for the Advent. His main restaurant close by located in the heart of the city Tkalčićeva 44 Zagreb, Croatia (There is more about the story that is covered in another article.)
Face Book Page: https://www.facebook.com/TheSriLankanCurryBowl
Getting around Zagreb there were lots of maps placed throughout the city making easy to find places if your cellphone battery should fail. There are some great rates for city Transportation for the month of advent in Zagreb. The thing one would expect was the trams to be packed with no room to move. However at peak periods there were wait times and people were polite. The pedestrian centre had a tram moving every 5 minutes or less depending on the time.
From the web site Zet.hr they have launched a special announcement “Public transport will be free in the Zagreb area, or the area of I. tariff zones, on weekends, ie, Friday from 12.00 pm until Sunday at midnight, and from today, 25 November, to Sunday, January 8 2016. Due to increased demand in Advent, Zagreb funicular (cliff cable car that carries up steep incline slope) will carry passengers until midnight, a funicular railway transportation will also be free. ’’(http://www.zet.hr/default.aspx?id=7963 ) It is always good to check on Public transit to avoid the worries of Parking and getting stuck trying to find the street.
This year for the second time in a row they beat out most of the well know Christmas destinations for Advent and Christmas Markets. The competition they face was a lot and made the top of the list. This is what they said click here to find out. http://www.europeanbestdestinations.com/christmas-markets/ or
From Osijek to Zagreb’s Advent.
Going by bus for an excursion to see Advent in Zagreb is great way to make it problem free. For a bus trip from Osijek to Zagreb for advent was a trip that requires one to wake up earlier than usual and be ready at the Bus pick-up zone by 7 am. The bus ride takes a little bit longer than a ride by car but it takes away all the hassles of driving and parking and the other incidents that may occur on a long road trip.
The tour bus operator provide a tour guide for the trip from Osijek to Zagreb.. It’s great to have a tour guide as they know the area well. I found it easy if you look for landmarks that are familiar as a starting point when your in a city that your not familar with. The tallest tower has an observation deck and good for a check point of location. The tour guide has lots of ground to cover in the 1 ½ hour tour. You’re whizzed around through alleys and many short cuts and up stair cases. After the tour there is plenty of time to explore and find many exciting things. Getting lost is easy as it’s not the typical way one may thinking in a grid map. In North America which is used to thinking up 2 blocks and one to your left in grid format. This is the old city center of Zagreb so it’s a maze of pedestrian walk ways that are filled with open air markets, café, restaurants, Museums, Art Galleries, Parliament buildings, Churches, Statues and monuments. Zagreb is full of life and with many things to explore it takes more than one day to see it all.
Tips of what to bring.
The Tour of Zagreb for Advent you need good shoes, knapsack and layers of clothes as the weather changes when being outdoors for the day to see the sites. In the knapsack if needed pack lightly with a few things like bottled. Also don’t forget to charge your cell phone and a camera. Always remember where the bus drops the group off as that is the place to get picked-up for the long ride home. It’s always good to have a friend or family member come along as they know the Croatian language as it always helps.