Zagreb, Croatia

Wednesday

After the whirlwind of Vienna, we had just a few days left of our time to spend in Zagreb.  We left early Wednesday morning and drove south.  We stopped for lunch in Maribor, Slovenia at Jack and Joe Steakhouse and Burgers.   They serve excellent burgers, and our favorite was the Jack and Joe burger with bacon, cheese, spicy barbecue sauce, and truffles.  It was very special and one of the top burgers we’ve had!   We all gave it 5*.  Unfortunately we ate the burgers before I thought to take a photo, so a picture of our lava cake for dessert will have to do.  😉  

Keller drove us to Zagreb and helped get all of our stuff up to the apartment.  Then he took the rental car to the airport to return it.  The kids and I unpacked and got settled into the apartment.   Once Keller got back he immediately set up for work and I walked to the grocery store.  (Are you surprised? Because I’m not.)  We took it easy with dinner in house, showers, and a reasonable bedtime for the kids.  Time to catch up on some sleep from the frantic pace of Vienna and several late nights in a row.

Thursday

We started today off slow and let the kids sleep in until they were ready to get up.   After breakfast, it was about 10am before we walked out the door.  We wandered down to the center of town and worked on the Rick Steve’s walking tour.  We explored the tunnels built into the hill as shelters during WWII, wandered by the parliament building and city hall, and found some intriguing street art.

Saint George and the Dragon

We ran across a little artist’s shop that had handmade masks.  They were very beautiful!

Keller picked out a little local restaurant serving a regional dish — gratinated stuffed pastas that are baked in a cream sauce.  They were tasty, though perhaps a little more casserole-y than we were expecting.  The flavors were interesting though, with both basil pesto and apple cinnamon being hits. 

We found dessert at a creperie where we ordered a nutella and oreo crepe and apple vanilla pancakes.

Last on our walking tour list was to visit the cathedral. This was Caden’s last candle of the trip.  The cathedral holds the remains of a controversial cardinal who may or may not have assisted the Nazis during WWII.  

We then wandered back through town, passing one of the universities in Zagreb before calling it a night with dinner and some down time.  The kids and I went to a little local playground to run out some energy for a while, but the weather was a bit chilly for sitting around!

Friday

For our very last full day in Europe, we started with the Nikola Tesla Technology Museum.  It had very good reviews online, but I’m afraid our standards and expectations for museums are highly elevated at this time.  For a little museum, it did have a lot of items on display, but there wasn’t a lot of cohesiveness or English explanations.  They had a mining tunnel display, but since we’d been IN an authentic mine in Slovenia, we were hard to impress. 

Alas!  As we travel, it is definitely getting harder to impress us — food, views, art, and museums included.

Next we walked back to the center of town and made our way up to the Cookie Factory for something sweet to eat.  We’d eaten a big breakfast, so we were not ready for lunch yet.  But there’s always time for dessert!  😉  

We also went to the Naive Art Museum.  Croatia is well known for it’s Naive Art movement — essentially artists who have no formal art training and typically paint scenes surrounding country life.  The paintings are done on glass, which makes the colors incredibly vibrant!  It also requires a lot of planning, as the details for a painting must be painted before the background because the paint is applied to the back of the glass, rather than the front side.  

We paused in the central square to check in for our flights the next day but had issues with the website.  Instead we walked back home and took it easy for the rest of the afternoon.  I cooked a big meal for lunch / dinner, we packed up, and got ready to head toward home!  

Saturday

First thing in the morning, we loaded everything into an Uber and went to the airport!  Our flight wasn’t until after lunch, so we didn’t have to get going at the crack of dawn, but it would be a long day.  

Our first flight was a short one from Zagreb to Munich.  We only had about 90 minutes between flights, so we didn’t have much time.  Since our flight stopped on the tarmac, we had to bus to the main terminal at Munich, work our way back to the international departures terminal, and get through security again.  This took nearly 45 minutes, so by the time we were at our next gate, there wasn’t much extra time.  Also, our departure gate was behind another round of security and we did not have access to restaurants any longer.  Fortunately we planned ahead and packed cold fajitas that we could eat on the go.  They weren’t great, but we didn’t have high hopes for our ability to get decent food at the airports — and we were right.  

Our second flight of the day was the long one — Munich to Boston on Lufthansa.  Keller was super excited to see that our video monitors also allowed us to see a live feed of three different views from the plane.  Unfortunately the screens were occupied with the safety announcements during take off, but it was still neat!  

The flight was straight forward and we didn’t have any major issues.  We chased the sunset for hours and hours!  We left Munich at 4:45 when the sun was definitely going down.  It didn’t actually get dark outside until we were about 2 hours from Boston.  So I watched the sunset for about 6 hours!  The flight was long, but that was to be expected.  Poor Caden was feeling pretty miserable by the time we landed, but he toughed it out.  

We grabbed our bags and took a Lyft to our AirBNB for the night.  This was the same one we stayed at on the way TO Croatia, so we knew the hosts and knew what to expect.  We put the exhausted kids straight to bed and then stayed up and visited with our hosts about our trip for a few hours.  Then it was off to bed for us!  

Sunday

For breakfast, we walked to a local coffee shop that also offered a breakfast menu.  We didn’t have time for the brunch menu, but we were all able to order something edible and get some “real” food in us for a change.  

Back to Boston airport, then the four hour flight from Boston to Houston on Southwest.  Other than having to wait a while for our suitcases to show up, we didn’t have any issues.  Payton picked us up at the airport and we went to dinner at Red Oak Grill.  We opted to stay at Payton’s overnight and then drove home Monday morning.  

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Overall, we had a WONDERFUL trip to Eastern Europe!  While we had intended to travel slower and spend more time in a few cities, we found that we prefer a more active schedule.  We still feel like we are on vacation and want to get out and see and do new things — not take it slow.  

So while we managed to go slow for 3 weeks in Split, the remaining 8 weeks were a whirlwind!  Our favorite stops were Slovenia, Mostar, and Vienna.  We’d love to return to both Slovenia and Vienna.  

We saw a lot, ate a lot, and walked a lot too!  We definitely learned what is working for us and what we should change for our next trip.  We remain grateful that we are able to travel like this and can’t wait for our next big adventure!