Today, December 8, 2015, marks one year since the beginning of an experience that changed my life. One year ago I came to Zagreb for the first time. It was supposed to be a regular training course, and I have to be honest – I wasn’t expecting much from this city, nor from this country.
I didn’t know almost anything about Croatia before coming here, except the fact that their national football team was a World Cup semi-finalist in 1998; but that was long ago. So I left my expectations at home and I came here to find an amazing city. Just as it always is, but especially during the advent time. It was a week full of discoveries, beauty, emotions, and – above all – friends (it is amazing how close can people get in only one week). It was also the time when I got to know O.A.ZA., which later became my hosting organization for two EVS projects.
So, after 5 months of experiencing Croatia (2 months in summer and 3 in fall/winter), here are my top 5 Zagreb moments so far:
5. Organ concerts
Such concerts are often held in different churches in Zagreb. They are perfect for music lovers and people who want to listen to the famous pieces of Bach as well as to other (less famous, yet incredibly beautiful) musical compositions of local and international composers. I attended one (and missed another one) at the Zagreb Cathedral, and that peaceful, solemn atmosphere is incredible. My advice: don’t be late, as they usually don’t last longer than 30-45 minutes.
4. The Advent time
Okay, I have to admit it – this one could have been on a higher position, but I am totally biased when it comes to the cold part of the year. Zagreb becomes magic during the Advent (4 weeks before Christmas) time, which this year earned it a nomination for the Best Christmas Market in Europe (vote here). Hot wine, all kinds of music, fairs, lights, fake snow, ice-skating, and so many more things to make your time here unforgettable. It’s my second Advent so far and I am absolutely loving it.
3. The Museum of Broken Relationships
Well, obviously. I visited it one year ago and don’t intend to do it again anytime soon. It was a great, but disturbing experience. I spent a couple of hours reading all the stories behind the exhibits, then another couple recovering from it. Unlike what it may seem, it is not about romance. At least not entirely. Funny stories alternate with truly heartbreaking ones, and the “broken relationships” vary from lovers to parents and children. A definite “must see”.
Seeing a ballet at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb was one of my best experiences here. The architecture is beautiful and the balcony reveals a stunning view on the city. Being a huge ballet lover, seeing La Bayadère was definitely one of my most special evenings here. Bonus? You get 50% discount if you have a student or European Youth card.
1. Summer – anywhere, everywhere
While most of the people prefer (and I don’t blame them) the Adriatic coast for spending the summer, Zagreb has A LOT to offer during this time. The city managed to surprise me every day during my two-month EVS project: all kinds of street artists, so much music, dance workshops in parks, outdoor movie screenings – it’s just a small piece of everything that crowds in my mind when I think about my summer here. The kind of experience that you must live in order to understand.