11 – 12 July: Zagreb and surrounds – a different Croatia to the over touristed Dalmatian coast

Author: Mr A

Location: Samobor and Zagreb, Croatia

Thursday: We took advantage of the cooler, mid twenties weather and leapt on our bikes to explore one of the many rides signposted around the small town of Samobor, to the west of Croatia’s capital Zagreb. The area does a good job of branding itself as a gourmet weekend destination for the weary city dwellers nearby. No evidence of them on a Thursday and it was beautifully quiet.

Market day looks vibrant in colour but is quite empty on this morning
The Gradna river winds its way gently through town
Samobor Castle peeks over the trees above the town. It dates back to 1260

Firstly though it was a visit to the doctor for an annoying blocked ear. This would be the second time I had visited a doctor in Croatia and both times had been seen immediately with no appointment.

The first time I saw a private doctor in an immaculate surgery, and paid the same as I would in Australia, the gap between what the government thinks a doctor should charge and what they actually need to charge. On this second occasion there was no private doctor so I was sent to an “emergency” facility, again top notch, well presented facilities with super friendly staff. I paid the equivalent of £1 (AU$2).

I contrast this not only with my experience at home in Australia but the miserable task of getting to see a doctor in the UK. I was told to turn up the next morning and “expect to wait around 3 hours”, or have an appointment in several weeks’ time! No wonder the UK’s life expectancy rates are declining and the infant mortality rates increasing. The country is bursting at its narrow seams with people and just not coping…in my opinion.

So on with our ride with hearing restored. Bucolic scenes were everywhere, the rich soil and climate enabling small allotments being tended by stooped figures.

Beautiful scenery and comfortable riding temperatures
Riding alongside the Sava River, watching a car ferry cruise across
Sweet corn fields backed by the Žumberak and Samobor Mountains

We took it all in and enjoyed the fresh climate and green space after the stifling heat and endless concrete developments on the coast.

Having cycled 45km (29 miles) we had worked up an appetite and headed for lunch at a family run restaurant recommended by our campsite host.

Wild mushroom soup for one!

Mushroom soup, containing 15 different types of this locally picked delicacy, was followed by shared plates of a delicious mushroom risotto and fresh asparagus with scrambled eggs.

I think this was the best lunch we’ve enjoyed since we have been in Croatia. Immediately you can taste the freshness of local produce, something we have been missing in the tourist spots on the coast.

Friday: The next day we took a bus and tram into Zagreb. I’m sad to say we were completely underwhelmed by this capital city. We just didn’t find much to really get excited about.

Zagreb has a daily market selling fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses and a few trinkets
The twin towered cathedral looms over the town
A dramatic looking water feature

We walked up to the Upper Town, the old Zagreb. There Catherine wandered into St Marks church.

Its colourful tiled roof, constructed in 1880, has the medieval coat of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia on the left side, and the emblem of Zagreb on the right.
The 14th century Gothic portal

I have decided to stay out of churches as a silent protest to institutional religion. While I waited, I was told off by a policeman with a gun for sitting on the steps of some official looking building.

Not dissimilar to the man with the gun….

We thought we would try the National Natural History Museum. Disappointingly there was no English signage at all meaning we learnt nothing… apparently it’s due a big makeover in 6 months – at least our ticket donations will go to a good cause, it is in dire need!

A courtyard full of sculptures in the old town
Of course we were met by a couple of feline locals
Catherine looking for a restaurant with good reviews and no smoke…challenging

Then we started the long painful process of finding somewhere to eat where cigarettes weren’t going to be waved in our face and the menu featured some thing a little fresh and interesting. Finally we found a lovely little cafe in the leafy grounds of the Museum of Archaeology.

Resplendent after a huge beef and egg salad
Catherine about to explore some of the old pillars and statues in the grounds
Parasols make fabulous shades in nearby Park Zrinjevac
Park Zrinjevac
Beautiful flowers outside the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Headaches at the Bank of Zagreb?

We were ready to leave mid afternoon, the first capital city we have ever run out of motivation to explore that quickly.

The electric tram which took us back to the bus station – keeps fumes out of the city centre

So it’s back to our lovely camp ground in the country and a snooze!

3 Replies to “11 – 12 July: Zagreb and surrounds – a different Croatia to the over touristed Dalmatian coast”

  1. Love your travelogue but I don’t agree with your assessment of our magnificent NHS. Yes, it’s creaking at the seams but it offers an exceptional service to everyone. Free of charge.
    Life expectancy and infant mortality rates are of concern, but I don’t agree that the NHS can be held entirely accountable.

    1. I just gave the facts and my experience, which was of an appallingly poor service with rudeness at every point. This was not an assessment of the NHS as I whole, clearly I’m not in a position to make an assessment of tha. Catherine as you know, has had fantastic service from some of the staff who contract to do the NHS. British friends living in Italy and France chose to live there, st the moment, to get better health care.

      1. Yes indeed! She and I share many experiences!
        I hope you didn’t mind me commenting. I’m passionate about the NHS and think it is outstanding!
        Have a lovely day/afternoon/evening!

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