Thursday, November 4, 2010

Zagreb, Croatia: New footsteps!!!

Nothing bad can ever be said about sushi in Zagreb. After arriving yesterday evening, having flown from Belfast, myself, Tony, Leese and Adam had a nice dinner at Takenoko, a modern upscale, but comfortable, Japanese restaurant in the city center. I opted to not waste calories on the undesirable plane food, but instead, swapped them for the tempura-style cooked seabass topped with shredded radish and sprigs of chive, jasmine rice, a green salad and fine glass of Reisling. It was perfect! I was in good company, the setting ambient with dim lighting and the crowd mature. It was a nice start and transition from having been in the UK for nine days.

Zagreb is a first for me. I am embarrased to say that I was not familiar with the city at all and had never even heard of it. Shuttled back to the hotel from the restuarant by taxi, and with it being night, I couldn't get a true feel for what was to come the next day. It would, instead, be a surprise.
I woke to a gloomy, misty and foggy morning, thinking that the day might be a bust. After my intense workout, a first, in the state-of-the-art hotel gym, I returned to my room to see that the haze had burned off and the sky was fairly clear. I lucked up by joining the Glam team and Laura who were just starting out for a stroll. We, along with some of the video crew, followed the tram tracks to the city center. We took in the historic sights at the main square where we ate a casual lunch and had drinks at a sidewalk cafe. It was turning out to be a great day.
We wandered up a twisty side street off the main square into what was the older part of town. The street of cobblestone was cute with a few really great clothing and jewelry boutiques sprinkled along the way. We window shopped while making our way to the top. It was charming and picturesque. Some of the buildings and storefronts, that have stood for centuries, had been refaced and patched with stucco and paint, showing evidence of their history through some of the uncovered stonework peaking through, from around the window sills and door thresholds. It was all so textural and the colors muddy and subdued.

At the top of the hillside we found a cathedral with a wonderfully decorative rooftop of tile and ornate carvings, a bit further down the road led us to a sunset lit view of the city. We strolled the promenade feeling compelled to take photos along the way. The glow of light reflecting off the crumbling and weathered buildings made for a great photo shoot backdrop. It was too easy,...with the graffiti-masked facades and vine covered walls, canopy treetops sparse with leaves casting shadows in all the right places. It was a no brainer and lured us in.
With the sun starting to set we made our way back down from the top of the hill and through the city streets to the hotel.

I took an hour or so to regroup, collect myself, and felt the need to be challenged in the 7pm yoga class offered in the gym downstairs. I enjoy yoga, having been a bit dedicated to it last year. Notice,...I said, "last year", this year is another story. I've been traveling with the tour since February and this doesn't lend itself to routine activities like yoga. I tell myself to practice by watching my yoga DVD's, but for me, there's nothing like a group setting. Anyway, as I was saying, I felt the need to be challenged tonight and joined the scheduled class. I left there feeling wrecked! I am proud of myself for going, especially knowing that the class would be taught in Croatian, of which, I know none. I was already familiar with certain yoga poses, which helped, it was also easy enough to follow along by watching the instuctor and people around me. I did what I could to the best of my ability, which essentially is what yoga is about, and returned to my room before treating myself to a glass of wine with friends at the bar downstairs. In my opinion, "I'd earned it!"
As for Zagreb, I wish we had more time. It's a beautiful city, and for now, still affordable. I've heard great things about the coastal areas and would love to learn more. This might have to be a future destination for me and Mui Alto. For Europeans, it's already a great holiday getaway, but for us in America, I think it's still a hidden jewel.
Well,... until next time.........

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