Travelling Summer 2016 – Part 7: Travelling to Zagreb, Croatia

To get to Zagreb from Dresden involved many train trips. I boarded a train to Wien, Austria about 9pm, Tuesday August 9th, and arrived there about 7am the next day.

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I’d had my interrail ticket taken upon boarding and had it returned to me, along with a chocolate croissant and a coffee (I’d been asked upon boarding did I like orange juice or coffee).

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My temporary travelling companions, two Danish people I’d shared the compartment with, parted ways. I checked I was on the right platform, made the most of the station Wi-Fi, and then boarded a train to Celje, Slovenia.

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My new temporary travelling companions were a couple from Belfast, who were travelling to Slovenia. Went between chatting with them, napping, playing a card game and wandering around the car. Later two older Austrian people joined us and gave out about our luggage arrangements.

Arrived in Celje a bit late.

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But made the next train; on to Đurmanec! Got checked by border control twice on this tiny two-carriage train, one of whom seemed somewhat suspicious of a lone Irish person travelling on small local trains to Zagreb.

Arrived in Đurmanec – and hit the language barrier hard. There was a lot of miming and pointing involved in telling me my next train would be here soon for Zabok.

Another small local train. I was the only one on it for the first few stops, travelling through the Croatian countryside. Then arrived in Zabok and straight onto the last train of the day for Zagreb. I was joined by a German person for this journey who happily entertained me and my poor German.

Arrived in Zagreb around 5pm! Here I was staying with a penpal I had met five years previously. We’d been in and out of contact through letters, Facebook and LinkedIn. They were in work when I arrived so I took some time to catch up via Wi-Fi. I also tried to use the bathroom in the station but sadly got shouted at for not knowing the currency correctly.

Got through to my pen-pal and got to their house after a few stops on the tram. We were both pretty tired so went to bed early after catching up.

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The next day, Thursday 11th of August, started with getting slightly lost and ending up at Jordanovac. Eventually found the number 9 tram and went a few stops and found my way again.

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Found the Dolac market and Zagreb cathedral.

Then casually followed a tour group from the cathedral to the Naive Art Gallery.

Then found the Botanical gardens which was the highlight of Zagreb for me.

Sat in front of the gallery in the green space and looked up a vegetarian place to eat.

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The internet recommended Zrno, which did good falafel and great pudding.

Friday was my last day in Zagreb. My penpal was also packed that morning to go on holidays in Budapest. I wasn’t feeling very adventurous that day so I stayed in my penpal’s apartment and tried to eat some of the food I’d been told to bring (as it would only go off while they were away), read Sandman and packed.

At 6pm I got the tram back to the train station and sat out in the green ’til it got buggy. I went inside the train station and soon had some stranger talking to me, trying to convince me to go on holidays with them and trying to buy me a drink.

I bought some books from the book stall in the station and sat down for a while to read, and got talking to someone from Poland. They were amused to hear that the biggest juggling convention in the world would be in Poland the following year.

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We boarded the train to Beograd, Serbia, late at night. My temporary companions in sleep were a German family of four.

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Travelling Summer 2016 – Part 3: Utrecht

On the Tuesday of the EJC, 2nd of August, I took the train to Utrecht to meet a penpal of mine, of about a year, whom I’d never met.

We found each other, after only a mild struggle one would expect to be avoided in the age of smart phones, Utrecht Centreaal station. We proceeded to have a lovely day together wandering misty Utrecht taking pictures, visiting cool buildings and game shops, satrting with lunch in Loof (Leaf)

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We visited St Martin’s cathedral – which would boast the highest church tower in the Netherlands, the Dom Tower, if it were attached to the cathedral itself but unfortunately the unfinished nave collapsed and the tower is free standing.

Inside the cathedral was a very old map of Utrecht.

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And some lovely art depicting Night and Day.

We also found our way into the garden.

We continued wandering around Utrecht in the mist (I wore flip-flops and shorts, believing they were the smartest choice with the least material to get wet as I hadn’t much proper rain-gear).

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This image we found on the bridge crossing a canal. Waving at whomever drove the boat along the canal illicited a wave in return.

Turns out Utrecht is a big student town and has a lot of games and comic-book shops. I managed to pick up some of the Star Realms expansions, and a copy of The Game (great for travelling!) with instructions in Dutch (but it’s quite simple).

We entered a number of museum gift shops (they always have the best, most original souvenirs) including a music museum.

We walked back around to a café that had some interesting looking cakes (which turned out to be mousse in disguise) and chatted before parting.