A Travellerspoint blog

August 2021

Zagreb for the Finish

Four nights in the big city to finish off our epic trip

Day 24 - Introduction to Zagreb


As we drove to our last destination, I could feel the pace and energy slowing down among my family. I had one last coffee in Rovinj before we hit the road. It gave me a moment to reflect on the incredible adventure I had been so lucky to share with my favorite people in the world.

We continued to be impressed with the toll roads in Croatia. We made great time and decided to stop in the town of Karlovac just 45 minutes outside of Zagreb to explore a small castle and eat lunch. The castle had been restored and was pleasant, though not dramatic.

We were lucky that one of the best restaurants in town was in the castle's small courtyard. The burger and steak sandwich were the winners this time.

We drove into busy Zagreb (about 800,000 people) and easily found our apartment. What a place! The apartment was huge with striking lighting fixtures and only about 5 minutes walk to the center square. There was only one small AC unit in the entry way which did not cool the place down as much as we would have liked. We have found that most places in Europe do not provide fans. That would have helped a lot. Oh well.

We headed into the main part of town to get a feel for the place. Such beautiful and grand buildings! Many buildings were surrounded with scaffolding most likely due to two large earthquakes that occurred in 2020. One local told us that each earthquake happened during separate Covid lockdowns. She joked that lockdowns didn't go well in Zagreb.

DH and I ditched the kids, who needed more hang-out time by this point anyway, and found happy hour. Zagreb is known for their craft beer scene so we were excited! I even had the Fakin IPA right below the mural.

We reunited and located a beer garden for dinner. The menus in Zagreb were decidedly different from coastal Croatia. It almost felt more German or Hungarian. I enjoyed goulash (better than it looked) and DH had smoked pork knuckle. So yummy!

Everyone was wearing down, except for me, so I decided to take a night stroll and get my bearings in this new vibrant city.

Day 25 - Day-trip to Samobor and more Zagreb

We still had our rental car for one more day. I had envisioned a more ambitious outing but we opted to stay close to the city and explore nearby Samobor. This cute town is known for its delicious cream cake and had another crumbling castle waiting to be explored. First we had to earn the cake by hiking up a rather precarious trail to a castle that had seen better days. I still can't get enough of these old things!

We found our cake lunch. The Samoborska kremšnita cake was not a disappointment!

I snapped a few more pictures of pretty Samobor before we returned our car to the airport. The Volkswagen T-Roc had served us well.

Once we settled back at the apartment after an Uber ride from the airport, DH and I decided to check out the Museum of Naive Art. I loved the masterpieces by these untrained artists. Many were painted on glass, cardboard, cloth, and other nontraditional materials.

We had a nice look at St. Mark's Cathedral with its striking tiled roof. This area is considered upper town and had a great view of lower town below.

We made dinner reservations at SOI Fusion Bar for Asian food. The place was popular and we were unable to get in the night before. It was so refreshing to eat Pad Thai, Khao Soi, and Poke. We all loved our dishes.

Even I was tired by this point so we relaxed in the apartment and began imagining how we could get our belongings packed and on an airplane home.

Day 26 - Covid Testing and More Wandering

This day's entry will be short. I started with a memorable run around the city. All the parks and greenways made for a scenic run. We bought pastries again. This happens way more than the blog admits! We found a local chain called Dubravica that was fabulous! We also found delicious coffee before coming back to the apartment for do-it-yourself Covid testing. This antigen test was super easy and linked with an app on our phones. We live-streamed with a person who lead us through the process and confirmed the results. Luckily, we all tested negative.

We met at the famous Dolac Market for a little exploration. The produce section was enormous as was the indoor cheese section.

Zagreb was full of bicycle food delivery people. They zoomed by at impressive speeds! I would assume this sort of food delivery became even more popular during Covid.

We found a delicious and well-known sandwich place for lunch. The portions were enormous!

The girls went off to do a little shopping while DH and I explored the Museum of Broken Relationships. This museum was filled with heartfelt, funny, and very tragic short stories about breakups. Each story was accompanied by an artifact from the relationship. There's a sister museum in Los Angeles. We spent over an hour reading the stories.

We met up again and had a little trouble deciding on a restaurant for dinner. The city is full of choices but sometimes that makes decision making even harder. We walked about 15 minutes away from the center and found a great meaty place. Eating like this will have to stop!

We found generous gelato on the way home and called it another day.

Day 27 -Last day in Croatia and Tram Riding

I went out for morning coffee. Twice. I like the Croatian/Italian coffee culture but also miss the larger sizes of American coffee. I was craving a 16 oz mocha by this point!

We bought tram tickets for the day and enjoyed the novelty of riding them to lesser-known parts of Zagreb. The first stop was Mirogoj Cemetery. This place was enormous with beautiful buildings. We wandered around after riding the nearly-empty trams.

It started to rain a bit so we took the tram in the opposite direction to a recommended beer place. The place was in the strangest area and was nearly deserted. It was surprising because it was a really nice bar! I should mention that it was Sunday and many things were closed in Zagreb. The streets were quiet and I can only assume that locals spend their Sundays at home and with family.

We found a sushi restaurant for an afternoon snack. Kids were thrilled!

Sushi was expensive so we were still hungry. We were also running out of things to do with the energy levels we had! We rode the tram another 30 minutes in a different direction for more food. Such a healthy snack this time!

Sadly, it was time to pack. We headed back to our pretty apartment and managed to fit all our belongings plus a few new ones into our luggage. We arranged for a taxi to pick us up at 4:20am. Yuck. DD#2 and I did take one final stroll around the center of Zagreb. We found gelato, filled our ears with the Croatian language for the last time, and brought our tired selves back for a good night's sleep. It was hard to say goodbye to Croatia but we also felt ready to go home.

Day 28 - Goodbye Europe

The early taxi situation worked well and brought us to Zagreb's pleasant airport. We found exactly one place open for coffee that early.

We took a short flight to Munich where DH and I decided to try the typical Bavarian breakfast of weisswurst, pretzel, and weiss beer. It was delicious and a perfectly unique start to a very long day.

The flight to San Francisco was long involving lots of movies and average airplane food.

It is nice to be home yet I would fly back to Croatia tomorrow if I could. There are so many reasons why we return to Europe as often as we can. If travel is permitted, you can bet we will be back in summer 2022!

Posted by familyineurope 22:19 Archived in Croatia Tagged zagreb tram munich samobor Comments (1)

Adventure in Rovinj

Glavani Adventure Park, Instralandia Waterpark, Pula, bicycle riding, swimming, and then there's the human catapult!

Beautiful Rovinj

Day 20 - A long drive and first impressions of Rovinj

After a long drive on the impressive toll freeway, we arrived in a suburban neighborhood just on the outskirts of Rovinj. The toll road was especially impressive with its many tunnels, changing scenery, and weird automated mannequin flagger in a construction zone.

The scenery in the Istrian Penninsula (where Rovinj is located) reminded us a lot of Oregon. Lots of green with impressive valleys. Our apartment was roomy and gave us lots of room to spread out for the next 4 nights.

We trekked to the old town and were impressed with the colorful buildings. The sky was threatening rain but also looked striking at the same time.

We found a nice meaty place for dinner. We started our meal outside but had to move indoors when the rain arrived.

Day 21 - Exploring Rovinj

We started the day with breakfast in the apartment. DD#1 found a weird hot-doggy pastry.

We wandered the old town taking more pictures while heading up to the church that tops the town of Rovinj. Rovinj has definitely been discovered by tourists. We saw so many license plates from Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Germany, and many more. It turns out that the Istrian Penninsula is one of the most popular vacation destinations for many land-locked Europeans looking for a beach fix.

We hiked up to the church and climbed the tower. Big surprise! This tower was particularly challenging due to the narrow and very old woody crickety steps. Of course the views were lovely at the top and we needed another family selfie. I stayed on top of the tower until noon just to hear the loud bells.

Can't you see their enthusiasm about climbing another tower? Haha.

We had a quick snack and DD#2 and I decided to rent bikes and head to a recommended beach on the Golden Horn. This was a pretty peninsula park that was popular with cyclists. The ride was easy and very scenic. We found a great little beach for a swim.

On the way back, I snapped what could be one of my favorite pictures from this trip!

We also found many photo ops of the old town from a different angle.

After a necessary gelato stop, DH and I went for a relaxing walk around the old town. It was fun listening to all the languages being spoken and hearing very little English among them.

We sent the kids an address for dinner and they met us at tasty Dario for dinner. We researched this place on the outskirts of town. We enjoyed local pasta with seafood and grilled squid. A really nice way to end a full day.

Day 22 - Glavani Adventure Park and Pula Arena

We were motivated to get up early today to head somewhere extra unique - Glavani Adventure Park! This park had many challenging ropes courses, zip-lines, and even a human catapult. It was all set over several acres in a remote spot. At first, we were the only ones there. Both girls had such a great time being challenged by clever obstacles. DH and I stayed firmly on the ground taking pictures of our daredevils above.

The human catapult was the highlight of the day for DD#2. She was the only one brave enough to experience 4 Gs and travel around 60MPH. You could hear the wind that she produced. She loved it but I definitely had jitters just watching her.

After this exhilarating and somewhat nerve-wracking morning, we drove about half an hour to the town of Pula. We found a delicious local place for sandwiches. You can tell DD#1 was excited at how good it tasted!

We were powered and ready to explore one of the world's best-preserved ancient amphitheaters. Pula's amphitheater was a work of art and a joy to explore. We climbed on ancient rocks, took way too many pictures, and actually relaxed inside the arena.

Dad photo-bombed this one!

Check out all these ancient olive oil containers that we stacked beneath the arena.

And of course we took a family selfie.

It was hot but we wandered around the old town of Pula mostly so I could see this mini-pantheon.

After such a busy day, we drove back to Rovinj, found some take-out pizza and called it a day.

Day 23 - Instralandia Waterpark and Goodbye to Rovinj

DD#2 and I decided to hit the 3rd best waterpark in Europe. DD#1 was needing a day to herself. DH was kind to drive us 40 minutes to the waterpark and entertain himself while we whirled down some of the most fast and exciting slides ever! We had so much fun and agreed that it was the best waterpark we had ever been to.

DD#1 took a few pictures of her relaxing day around Rovinj.

We took our tired bodies back to Rovinj and had another delicious seafood meal.

Finally, DD#2 and I took one last walk around beautiful Rovinj to get those special sunset pictures that we will never forget.

Goodbye to beautiful Rovinj!

Posted by familyineurope 20:05 Archived in Croatia Tagged park adventure human pula amphitheater rovinj catapult glavani istralandia Comments (0)

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