Can I share some thoughts about our stay in Zagreb, Croatia?
OK then, I will.
We always knew that our short stay in Zagreb would feel more like a holiday season than any other time. We were here for a month, August to September, and had two sets of family friends come and stay, each for 2 weeks.
Not that that meant I could stop working! I still found myself a nice place to go and work, at HUB385 Innovation Center. This was a lovely open space for working, and only 30 minutes walk home at the end of the day. I managed to launch a new website for Book Creator whilst there.
There was also a lovely little café nearby, where they didn’t speak English but I went back enough times that they knew I’d be ordering quiche and coffee (and sometimes cake, nom nom nom).
People who know what they’re talking about
We started off our time in Zagreb with a good tactic – meet another travelling family. Josep, Marcella and their baby Pau gave us a tour of the old town, taking in a great view of the city, the art park and the tunnels (a route we would take all our visitors on later). This lovely family also introduced us to Lake Jarun.
We met up with another family there who we’d met in Prague (they were driving back from a visit to the Free Republic of Liberland – heard of it?). All in all, this gave us a good basis for things to do in Zagreb, but we didn’t get much chance to explore further than that.
Zagreb is a pretty chilled out city. It doesn’t feel so much like a capital city – there’s not so much hustle and bustle. It’s hard to summarise, but it feels a bit like stepping back into the 1990s (only with excellent 4G coverage).
Cafés, bars and taxis are all playing English music. But it’s all stuff no-one listens to any more. Seriously – think “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia and this is about as modern as it gets. But if you like early 80s soft-rock, then you’ll be happy. Suewan was absolutely delighted to hear Phil Collins and Mick Hucknall wherever she went.
We had some lush eating experiences – slices of pizza on the go. Oranz cafe with it’s rotating ice creams and too many cakes for me to choose from. Even better ice creams from that place near the thing. And not forgetting Caramel Danger Adventure!
And two of our best eating experiences of the whole year came in the last few days here, at Gyoza Sake bar (where the chef loves to talk to you) and Time Restaurant & Bar (with it’s nice ramen and ‘Japanese Stones’ dessert).
This time we stayed in a house rather than a flat (so we’d have enough space to accommodate our friends from the UK). It had a garden and everything (complete with barbecue, trampoline and massive pub-style umbrella). Even better, our Airbnb host provided a cleaning service.
The only bad thing was the mosquitoes, which we hoped we’d left behind in Valencia (there weren’t any in Prague). In fact, there was a general increase in bugs all round, and I swallowed a fly that made me gag when running with Andy Baynton. Plus we had ants in the kitchen, who kept appearing even though I tried to block all their entrances with sellotape.
Andy, Nic, Caitlin and Bethan came to stay with us first. Early days were spent watching the Rio Olympics together, going to the lake and playing the odd game of Lego Star Wars.
Being the lush people that they are, the Bayntons treated us to a 4-day break with them to Rovinj, on the Croatian coast. So we packed up, got in the hire car and had a very pleasant 2 and a half hour drive. For me, this trip was the highlight of being in Croatia – it was very chilled out and the coastline was beautiful. Ask Roobs about the jellyfish she swam with!
Soon after the Baytons left, along came Nathan, Joy, Jowan (our godson) and Zachie. This was another blessing (of a different variety). The little ones have had a poor run of health, so it was great to spend time with them whilst simultaneously allowing the parents to grab a little bit extra sleep after a restless night. Jowan and Zach are adorable.
I also got to go on another run, this time with Joy (it’s so much better to run with someone else, isn’t it?). Plus Nathan and I had a great evening chatting about all manner of things, including “what’s the point of Jesus?” (to which we haven’t come up with a satisfactory answer yet).
Things that are emerging
Our stay in Zagreb was the end of the opening chapter of our travels, in a way. We had Valencia, Prague and Zagreb booked before we left. From here onwards we’re winging it. When we set out, we had some big questions about how to do life, how to do faith and the rest of it. We don’t have answers yet, but it feels like some things our starting to form.
We’ve met some people who’ve opened our eyes to different ways to do homeschooling (or is it worldschooling, or is it even unschooling?). Suewan has started reading up about how to understand finance and perhaps how to make our money work smarter. We’ve thought hard about how to eat more healthily, and how to avoid processed food. And I’ve wrestled with some issues of faith as I try to understand the different paradigms of traditional Christianity and an emerging Christianity.
So, then. Onwards to Athens.
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