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Zagreb for the Finish

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

Day 24 - Introduction to Zagreb

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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Everyone was wearing down, except for me, so I decided to take a night stroll and get my bearings in this new vibrant city.
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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!
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We found our cake lunch. The Samoborska kremšnita cake was not a disappointment!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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We met at the famous Dolac Market for a little exploration. The produce section was enormous as was the indoor cheese section.
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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.
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We found a delicious and well-known sandwich place for lunch. The portions were enormous!
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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.
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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!
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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!
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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.
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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.
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We found a sushi restaurant for an afternoon snack. Kids were thrilled!
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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!
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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.
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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.
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The flight to San Francisco was long involving lots of movies and average airplane food.
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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)

Ten Years of International Family Travel

We are off to Croatia in exactly one month!


View Croatia 2021 on familyineurope's travel map.

A New Adventure in a New Time

I started this blog ten years ago with four and six year old daughters. What an adventurous, memorable, and challenging six week trip around Europe!

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Croatia 2021

Now we are off again (fingers crossed) to Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia for one month with fourteen- and sixteen-year-old daughters!

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Throughout the last decade, we have fully embraced travel as our number one family activity. The four of us dream and brainstorm future trips pretty much every day. I still do most of the itinerary planning. DH is the flight booking and car rental guru. After a lot of practice, I have a pretty good idea of what kinds of activities and pace our family enjoys. The girls are speaking up a lot more about their preferences. DD#1 even has her sights on college in Europe.

Like everyone I know, we experienced sad cancelations in 2020. Our six-week trip to Europe was postponed among so many other activities. Luckily, we have stayed healthy and have all been fully vaccinated. The timing feels right for us to get out of the country. We chose Croatia for many reasons:

1) It is open to American tourists. It was actually open to tourism in summer 2020.
2) Our family absolutely loved Greece in 2019 so it makes sense to visit another country with a beautiful coastline.
3) We have never visited this region and think a month will be a good amount of time. I can't wait to get lost in old towns and eat new foods!
4) We are sticking to a smaller region just in case Covid causes border closures or last-minute shut-downs.
5) Croatia has always been on the list!

We planned this trip in April which is rather last-minute for me. We relied almost entirely on booking.com for fully cancelable apartments.

Here is a brief outline of our itinerary.

Zagreb

4 nights. I am so excited to be in a European city again!
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Rovinj, Istrian Peninsula

4 nights. This region is very close to Italy and has hill towns, beaches, a great waterpark, an adventure park, and an ancient amphitheater in Pula.
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Zadar

3 nights. I am drawn to this city because of its famous sea organ! It also looks beautiful and is maybe less touristed than other cities.
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Split

3 nights. This is Croatia's second largest city and has tons of history. I can't wait to explore Diocletian's Palace and the nearby towns of Trogir and Omis. We might even go zip-lining!
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Bol, Brac Island

3 nights. We will ferry to Brac and drive to the town of Bol. Bol is home to one of Croatia's most famous beaches. There's also a great hike to the island's tallest point.
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Dubrovnik

4 nights. This is the most visited and most famous Croatian city. We will walk the famous walls, get lost in the old town, and take some day trips. This city is usually mobbed with cruise ships. I suspect summer 2021 will be a little different.
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Kotor, Montenegro

3 nights. We will hike up the old city walls to the fortress above, drive around the bay, and the mountains. Another new country!
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Mostar, Bosnia

3 nights. I'm so eager to see this picturesque city with its famous bridge, minarets, and delicious food.
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Sibenik, Croatia

1 night. I knew I wanted to visited this beautiful town so I decided to break up a drive with our only one-night stay.
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Plitvice National Park on the way back to Zagreb

2 nights. This national park has always been on my radar for obvious reasons!
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I will be updating this blog as we travel and hope to provide not only stories about Croatia, but some insight about traveling during Covid. It feels like it has been so long since we have traveled and we know how incredibly lucky we are to have such an opportunity. Let the countdown begin!

Posted by familyineurope 16:28 Archived in Croatia Tagged zadar croatia dubrovnik split zagreb mostar kotor brac bol rovinj sibenik Comments (1)

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