Five Weeks in the Former Yugoslovia

May 3rd, 2019, 08:14 AM
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Five Weeks in the Former Yugoslovia

After a lengthy flight from IAD via VIE on Austrian Air in premium economy, we arrived in Zagreb under gray, drizzly skies. Like much of Europe, customs and immigration were a mere formality and we quickly made our way to our pre arranged driver. It was a short drive to our apt, Markiz, where we were greeted by the owner. We loved our spacious modern, 1 bedroom apt . located in an old building in the historic center of Zagreb. We wandered around the city in our usual first day jet lagged fog and were astounded by the decorative aspects of the fin de sicle architecture.

Over the next 48 hours we enjoyed a Free Spirit 90 minute walking tour that gave us an overview of the city and its history. We had a delicious lunch at Heritage Croatian. Food. Owners of Hertiage Croatian Food recommended Lanterna for dinner where we ate. The meal was okay but wasnít nearly as good as our lunch.
We visited 2 excellent and unusual museums, Image of War Photography Museum and the Museum of Broken Relationships. Hoping to add some joive de vie to our day we went out to celebrate International Workers Day. Turned out it was just like Labor Day in the USA...nice park, bands playing, vendors selling food & drink, families picnicking and having fun.

That evening we had a virgin experience, a meal through Eatwith. We walked about 20 minutes up into the hills where we met Doris and her friend Nikki. Doris prepared an excellent meal and we had lengthy conversations about travel, politics and Croatia. All in all a very enjoyable evening.

We easily could have spent at least 1 more day exploring this intriguing city that many seem to skip. We recommend it.

Last edited by yestravel; May 3rd, 2019 at 08:22 AM. Reason: Add photo
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May 3rd, 2019, 08:22 AM
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I'm glad you are enjoying Croatia so far and loved Zagreb. The city just didn't charm me, though. Perhaps that's unfair - I had just come from the utterly charming Ljubljana, which I'd fallen in love with, so Zagreb felt like a bit of a letdown.

Ironically, the one museum I visited in Zagreb was the one you skipped: the Croatian Museum of NaÔve Art, which I loved - and I'm really not a "museum person" at all. (The Relationships museum wasn't open when I was there; perhaps the photography museum wasn't yet either.)
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May 3rd, 2019, 08:29 AM
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The Photography Museum just opened in October. We’re museum buffs but skipped the Naive Art one in Zagreb because we will be in the town that is the center of Naive art tomorrow, Hlebine. I think different towns appeal to different people and I agree it’s depends upon when you see them.


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May 3rd, 2019, 08:36 AM
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May 3rd, 2019, 08:44 AM
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May 3rd, 2019, 04:21 PM
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Yestravel, I am reading your trip report with great interest! I envy you that you have 5 weeks in the former Yugoslavia. IIRC, I was planning our trip to Croatia and Slovenia at the same time as you. We were supposed to be there right now, but unfortunately, I had to cancel for medical reasons. My arthritis pain worsened over the last several months, and I can barely walk, so I have scheduled hip replacement surgery for next week. I have rescheduled our Croatia/Slovenia trip for September. I appreciate any insights, restaurant recommendations, etc. that you can give along the way. We will spend 2 nights in Zagreb. I have the Museum of Naive Art and Museum of Broken Relationships on my sightseeing list, and now thanks to your report, I will add the War Photography Museum to my list.
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May 3rd, 2019, 04:23 PM
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How did you find out about the Free Spirit walking tour? Thanks!
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May 3rd, 2019, 04:34 PM
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Sounds interesting. Keen on on reading more

@ karenwoo.....Best wishes for your surgery.

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May 3rd, 2019, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Adelaidean View Post
Sounds interesting. Keen on on reading more

@ karenwoo.....Best wishes for your surgery.

Thank you!
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May 3rd, 2019, 07:57 PM
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Karen- yes, I remember you. Sorry you had to postpone your trip, but glad you will be able to go in the fall. Best of luck with your surgery.
The apt owner recommended Free Spirit Tour. I think our guide, Kristina was excellent. Despite a rather large group, she kept the tour together and moving along. She was a wealth of info. They meet in the square at 11 every morning. It is free. They give a handout and that was how we found out about Heritage Croatian Food. The food was excellent and the owners share the origin and other info about the food they serve. They were kind enough to forward us a list of places in the Istirian peninsula.

Adelaidean- thanks for following along. It may be slow going as we are trying to do this as we travel.

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May 3rd, 2019, 08:20 PM
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Iím coming along for the ride too. Did Zagreb have the look of Vienna?
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May 3rd, 2019, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by tripplanner001 View Post
Iím coming along for the ride too. Did Zagreb have the look of Vienna?
hi TP- yes, we were told it was designed like Vienna. Where we are now, Osijek, reminds us a bit of Hungary.
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May 4th, 2019, 01:59 AM
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Just been to Slovenia for 3 weeks staying in beautiful Kranjska Gora.

Had a day in lovely Ljubjlana......the Old Town is nice and central following the river, pretty much all pedestrianised, easy to navigate, plenty of free information available on the spot, a bit of a hike up to the Castle but no need to walk.

Be careful of cyclists, all over the place, and coming in all directions.

Both Slovenia and Croatia are relatively expensive. Much better vfm in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Romania....basically anywhere that doesn't use the €uro will be better vfm.
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May 4th, 2019, 03:53 AM
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Macedonia is my personal favourtie, so underrated. Great food
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May 4th, 2019, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by honestfire View Post
Macedonia is my personal favourtie, so underrated. Great food
We really enjoyed 3 weeks there in April last year.....started in Skopje, where we really enjoyed wandering round the Old Town. Then to Lake Ohrid by bus for a week, stayed in a lovely apartment by the Lake. Then by bus again to Bitola, and finally back to Skopje.

Very good vfm, lovely food, and people.
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May 4th, 2019, 06:25 AM
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We're tagging along!
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May 5th, 2019, 05:56 AM
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Macedonia sounds intriguing...maybe one day.

INLAND CROATIA

Thursday we picked up our rental car and breezed out of Zagreb. We were headed to Osijek, the 4th largest city in Croatia located near the border with Serbia. It was an easy, leisurely drive through mostly flat countryside. We were a little surprised at the prosperity of the small towns. Many seemed to have newer construction perhaps rebuilt in the aftermath of the war. Bakery followed bakery and we succumbed on one occasion to have a pizza like concoction for lunch. We sat on a bench and ate by a memorial to the small towns fallen in the 1990’s war. It was sad to see boys who were killed as young as 20.

We got back on the road and in no time arrived in Osijek. We picked this area, Slavonia, to visit because some guidebooks described it as “deepest Croatia, what you might have found 60 years ago.”

After checking in we went for a walk around old town. The damage from the war was immediately evident. Although many buildings had been restored, others were pockmarked with shrapnel and bullet holes. In a symbolic touch, the excellent town art museum, which had taken a direct impact on one of its cirnets, had painted the damaged portion of the interior a blood red, leading us to describe it as the wounded museum.

As evening was drawing near we walked into the center of town. The town, like Zagreb, was filled with statues of people whose banes we could not pronounce. Bars and cafes crowded the river Drava edge. This seemed to be a lively town.

The next day gave us the opportunity to explore the Tvrda (Citadel) and the art nouveau architecture of the late nineteenth century. The former is a giant complex of buildings with cobblestone streets dating back to the 17th century.
Later, for a mere 15 kuna apiece (~$2 pp), we toured the Museum of Fine Arts, aka the wounded museum. The works comprise late 19th through 21st century Croatian masters and were overall of a high quality.

For us, however, the true charm lay in the fabulous art nouveau section of the old town with its wide tree lined streets. Many of the buildings were spectacular examples of art nouveau architecture. We marveled at the intricate details of the railings, the windows, doors and decorative building features. The nearby Urania Theatre was a art nouveau treasure.

That night we watched the sunset over the river Drava as we walked to dinner at Kod Ruze in the Trvda. This was our first dining experience in a traditional Croatian restaurant, complete with a five piece roving string band serenading the locals many of whom had turned out in their finest track suits. The decor was a slice of Croatian history had Croatian history been preserved in your grandmother’s attic : antique photographs, stuffed animals, ancient irons, primitive paintings, antique Singer treadle sewing machines, all things old and imaginable scattered through a series of dining rooms. Our meal consisted of very large and good portions of traditional food. The local house white wine was excellent as was the home baked apple pie we had for dessert. We recommend a visit as much for the decor as for the food.

The next day day we will be off to explore another area in the rarely visited hinterlands of which we are growing fond.



Last edited by yestravel; May 5th, 2019 at 06:55 AM.
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May 5th, 2019, 06:54 AM
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Urania Cinema from 1912

Gallery of Fine Arts (the wounded museum)

Countryside covered in rapeseed plants
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May 5th, 2019, 06:55 AM
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Osijek sounds great. Perhaps one of the last remaining parts of Europe that is relatively untouched by tourism.
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May 5th, 2019, 07:32 AM
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Oh, fantastic! I just found your report! This is so exciting - I love following your travels, and hav definitely followed in your footsteps in other places. While we don’t have an immediate plans to travel to this region, it’s one we hope to see in the not too distant future.

Sign me on as another happy follower!
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