Family, Travel | 4 comments
Jenn and Sanja’s diary: Hello Zagreb!
Home Away From Home
Sanja and her friend Jenn decided to take some time off from the work and all daily routines here in Edmonton, and travel the world for a while. I will publish blogs about their traveling adventures, so return to this site again to read more. They left Edmonton in mid July 2010 for a short visit to London, and than headed off for capital city of Croatia – Zagreb.
Family house in Kraljevec street (Zagreb)
Zagreb, Croatia July 17, 2010
We made it!
After a night in London wide awake wondering what the F** to do, we made it to the Luton airport ready to get to Croatia. We were in surprise as we made it through customs with nothing but a nod hello. Nothing like the London customs where they needed a pee sample.
Hello Croatia! I was so ready to say hello to my new home. Although I couldn’t even say hello but I felt like I was home.
We were not in any mood to take the big airport shuttle to downtown Zagreb, as it was +35 and the thought of crowding on a bus with about a hundred other sweaty people was not worth the 30$ we would have saved. So we used Sanja’s left over Euros from a previous vacation and hailed a cab. We had pretty much lost as many layers as we could, without sitting in the back seat with nothing but our under garments on.
Cathedral in Zagreb
As we drove through the city en route to Baka’s house, I noticed just how different everything was to me. Nothing looked anything like home. The streets were small and narrow, cute little details such as street signs, lamp posts, the patios full with people sipping their expressos and puffing on their 15th cigarette. The rail went right through the middle of the roads, the people filled the streets wearing nothing like the typical fashion we were so used to seeing. Just about everywhere I looked, totally different to what I was so used to seeing as I drove the streets of Edmonton. Unreal to someone who thought she had done much for travel. Well up until now, I had barely graced the surface of the world.
As I sat back and listened to Sanja speak in full Croatian to the taxi driver, finding it hard to not throw in the odd English word as she would with her parents at the dinner table, I started to panic. I didn’t know a word of the one language I was now surrounded by for the next few months. As Sanja turned and explained what she just said, I breathed a sign of relief, I was in Croatia with a Croatian, whew, I was going to be totally fine.
Our temporary home… street side
View from the back of the house
As we made our way to the house we now called home, it was almost a surreal feeling. We had made it. Yes, we were here. We actually did what we talked months about preparing for this exact moment. It was nothing like I had ever felt. I couldn’t ask Sanja what she was feeling as she was directing the taxi driver to the exact address I thought it might not be the appropriate time to have an in depth conversation about our big adventure and a totally new direction our lives were going just from this one trip.
Main entrance into the old house
We pulled up to the big house with the red brick roof. It was exactly how in looked in the pictures that hung on the Kahlina’s wall at home in Canada. It was very homey. Reminded me of my Gram’s place in Ontario. The house even smelled like my Gram’s. It was so neat that our families lived worlds apart yet they were so similar with the way their homes were set up. The little pictures hanging on the walls to the ornaments nicely organized on the coffee table. It was just perfect for the two of us for the next few months. We had left our families to explore the world but felt closer to them just by staying in this home.
We took a mini tour of the place, figured out which room we would have the pleasure of unloading our 140 lbs of items we squeezed into our poor luggage to get it here. It was like a department store, we couldn’t remember all the items we placed in out bags, as closer to our departure, we were taking things out to comply with the weight restrictions. We both couldn’t help but laugh as we unpacked yet another white tank top. Seriously, how many white tank tops did we need… apparently six! Yes, Zdenko, you were right, we didn’t need half of what we brought but we brought it anyway. Laughing away as we neatly placed everything in the cupboards and closets. We were set!
We were both extremely tired by this point that we just wanted to go right to bed, but once again, we didn’t think going to bed at 2 pm on a Friday night was he best solution. Instead we went to the local neighborhood store (or market as they are referred to here) and picked up the basics to get us threw till we could hit up a bigger market to stock the house.
St. Mark’s church in Zagreb
We literally didn’t do much for the rest of the day and night. Went for a nice walk around the downtown area just to get familiar with the city. It was still not sinking in that this was our home for the next few months. I must have looked completely confused when an outsider looked at me. Not understanding another language is frustrating. I was determined to figure out the basics of the language before I left though. I repeated that to Sanja as she tried once again to teach me how to pronounce the address we now lived at. Yep! Still can not say it… Kraljevec 9.
Day 2 started off great. We both rolled out of bed at 12:30 pm all upset that we missed going to the market in the downtown square. Since we now lived in a humid, overly hot climate, we had to make sure that we got majority of our outside activities done by noon otherwise we had to wait until the evening. The heat here is nothing like I have felt. I have been to Hawaii and Mexico multiple times but nothing was like the Croatia sun. Seriously, I was sweating just brushing my teeth.
Park in Zagreb with big trees
Horse nuts trees are everywhere
The kitchen window and the box of good Cabernet Sauvignon wine!
So it’s 8pm and we are sitting at a little table under the kitchen window, where the boxed wine is keeping us hydrated. It’s quite the life we have:) We spent all day in the garden, getting all the weeds out and trimming the overgrown plants. It’s a lot of work, that I didn’t think I would want to be doing, but turns out that we are both enjoying it very much. I just wish I could tell the difference between a weed and a plant. There was a lot of confusion as to which greens to remove and which to keep, but we somehow decided what would look best and went with it. So, sorry mom, if you come here next year and wonder where that wonderful plant went that you planted strategically in a special spot…..we may have mistaken it for a weed and killed it. I’ve never claimed to be much of a gardener, but at least we’re trying.
Somewhere in the vineyards of Zagorje region…
Time to finally enjoy our trip with good food and vine!
In the corn field
Anyway, the last few days have finally cooled off a bit, and it has been cloudy, so we spent most of the days outdoors. We couldn’t resist but to go out on Saturday night, so we dressed up and found ourselves a cute little caffe/bar on Tkalciceva street. We ordered our usual, red wine for Jenn, and my vodka with a new favorite, tonic water and lemon. I have a feeling we were the only ones consuming alcohol, as all you could see on everyone else’s tables were coka cola bottles. But at least we weren’t chain smoking like the rest of the crowd. After a few hours of people watching and chit chat, we headed home. Usually in Edmonton we would have stopped at the nearest Mcdonalds drive through on the way home, but here I think we have found something even better. Gelato!!!
Icecream – Gelato – Sladoled
As you walk into any one of these wonderful ice cream stores you instantly get a feeling of being a kid in a candy store. There is at least 20 different flavors of ice cream spread out in front your eyes and it looks kind of like clouds of ice cream. Big tins filled with soft, creamy, delicious flavors of all sorts. And at 6 kunas ($1.25) per scoop, who could resist this heavenly treat. So we then strolled down to Britanski Trg where we got on the bus to Baka’s house. I think this was only my second time in my life taking public transport while a little under the influence, but it was quite fun.
Sasa and Iva with Sanja: they were wonderful hosts and guides
Sanja under “attack” by “Neanderthals” from Krapina (Zagorje)
Monday turned out to be quite a productive day, as we did most of our shopping for the week. And no, I don’t mean shoes and clothes, but food and market necessities. Fruits and veggies at the fresh outdoor market, groceries at the Konzum (the local store), and toiletries at DM. All this is located about a 20 minute walk from the house. So after that we went back and relaxed at home. In the evening we met for drinks with an old friend, Martina, and made plans to go to an island with her and her friends from August 11-15. How easily plans happen:) Martina also showed us where the English bookstore was located, and we spent about an hour there, picking out our next reading pleasures. Jenn’s picks are fun, mindless, entertaining books about sex and the city type of stuff. And I am apparently trying to be grown up and pick a few classics, like the count of Monte Cristo, which I’m sure will keep me occupied the entire 8 months as it is 1100 pages long. But at least we can say we are reading books, instead of watching TV.
Ivan i Durda our friends who live in Sydney
Wednesday night we were invited to a family friends house for dinner and of course home made desserts and wine. Mladen ensured that our wine glasses were never empty and the ladies just made us eat. After expressing how much we enjoyed the wine, Mladen explained that it was home made wine that he makes at his vineyard. So Jenn immediately expressed how she has always wanted to learn to make wine, and just like that we were invited to his vineyard in the fall for the harvesting and the making of the wine. And not just a few bottles, but apparently 800 Litres, of which I’m sure he could spare a few for us. Life couldn’t get any better than this but than again, we are only a week into our new adventurous selves.
To be continued…
Have a good and healthy season.
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