Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here
Frank Bernheisel
Frank Bernheisel
Posted 1.16.18
Just Outside Washington

All photos courtesy the authors


In downtown Zagreb
Sunday, October 22, 2017

We woke up to grey skies, cool temperatures, and wind in Zagreb. Zagreb is the capital and the largest city of Croatia, with 800,000 people. It has a history dating back Roman times; the Roman town of Andautonia was just southeast of Zagreb on the Sava River. We toured Zagreb by bus for about 20 minutes and then met our local tour guide.


She dressed in a traditional outfit for our benefit and so we would not get lost. During the tour, it was interesting to see other tourists stand near her to have their pictures taken. She carried a red umbrella with stripes, another local tradition. She used a microphone, which broadcast to receivers each of us had. Once our earbuds were adjusted, we could hear clearly.

Zagreb has several areas; the two we spent most of our time were the Upper Town and the lower or Bishops' Town. We started off in the lower town and visited the central Ban Jelacic Square,


The square contains a large statue of ban Josip Jelacic on horseback which was installed in 1866 by Austrian authorities, despite local protests. Jelacićcs statue was removed in 1947 by the Communist government of Yugoslavia, which denounced him as a servant of foreign interests; it was restored in 1990.

Since it was Sunday we could not go into the Zagreb Cathedral; unlike Saturday we did not go back to see this one.


The Cathedral is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and is on the top of the hill above the city in Upper Town, with the Mary Column in front.


It shares the area with St. Mark's Square Banski dvori (Croatian Government residence), St. Mark's Church, the Croatian Parliament,. and an old fortress.

Croatia is 86 percent Roman Catholic and Zoran indicated that they were active, which was our observation. Of the many churches, St. Marks in Upper Town has highly decorative roof tiles, which are considered a 'standard' view of the area.


One means of getting up to Upper Town is to use the funicular, which is the shortest funicular in the world -- it only goes 60 meters, but those meters are straight up the hill.


The funicular is the easiest way to get from one place to the other and our group did take it up to Upper Town on our second assent. There were many shops, cafes, and restaurants along the streets we walked. Our guide said there were 100 coffee shops in the city center. On the way to St. Marks we passed the Museum of Broken Relationships, which was a source of merriment for our group.

Sunday is market day in Zagreb so we went to see another busy area with lots of local people. It is mainly in the Upper Town but spills down toward the central square. As shown, the market is crowded and has all types of produce, flowers, and trinkets, including the traditional striped umbrellas.


Our guide pointed out a small pedestrian street where between 10 a.m.and 2 p.m. young people wearing their best 'saunter' up and down the street, looking for prospective spouses. The market street was not where they sauntered.


After our tour, we opted to have a sit-down lunch; others in the group selected more 'walk away' (fast) food. This time we went to a restaurant near the cathedral. When we entered there were two tables of Asian tourists. I think we were the only other customers. Within a short time, they left and in came a large group of people from Italy; followed by some local people. Like almost every restaurant we have been in so far, the portion sizes are large.

Frank’s salad will give you some idea of sizes.


Thinking maybe I figured this size thing out, I ordered a 'local cheese' selection, which had an aged Gouda, a local white, sliced cheese, tomatoes with mozzarella cheese, rockette and olives. I still haven’t found a way to order a 'light' lunch. The ham and cheeses are local specialties of which the Croatians are very proud.


While we were in the restaurant it started to rain, so we decided to take the tour bus back to the hotel rather than wander around the area longer and walk or take the tram. That turned out to be a smart thing since it really started raining and it continued well into the evening.

We had thought to go out to a recommended restaurant but almost our all tour group opted for the bar. Note: the hamburgers in Croatia are not bad but they are a different than the U.S. version.

The big event for today and why returning to the hotel was good, was that Kathy could follow Steve's progress in the Marine Corps Marathon. Before leaving on the trip, I signed up to received e-mail updates on his status. I thus received e-mails indicating his time at 10, 20, and 30K marks and his finish time. This was so exciting to be able to follow even from this distance. His successful completion made our day!