Fasten your seat belts! We returned from an incredible 10-day road trip through the Balkans on Sunday night and I’m finally getting around to what will be the first of several posts describing our adventures. Ready for it? Okay, let’s go.
The journey began two weeks ago today, when we boarded a flight from Geneva to Brussels and then a second flight to Croatia’s capital. Gui and I had managed to pack all 10 days of clothes and gear into carry-on bags, so after landing we skipped baggage claim and headed straight to the rental car desk to pick up our ride.
Since we don’t have a data allowance on our phones outside of Switzerland, we had reserved a GPS to navigate through the three countries on our itinerary — and were thus a bit taken aback when the agent informed us that she couldn’t provide a machine that would work in all of them: We could either take the GPS programmed for Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, or we could take the one that only worked in Slovenia. Having read some, um, interesting stories about Bosnia’s roads, and being super good at math (2 > 1), we opted for the Croatia/BH system and thanked our lucky stars that we had come equipped with a giant roadmap as backup. A smiley guy walked us to our little white Ford Fiesta to document the existing scratches and dings, and after a bit of miming to finish up the paperwork (he spoke Croatian and German, neither of which we could reciprocate), we were on our way!
Gui and I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring Zagreb, which has a much more Austro-Hungarian feel than I was expecting. We climbed the hilly sidewalks of the old city to see the Stone Gate and its painting of the Virgin Mary and a young Jesus that is thought to have magical powers. Per our Lonely Planet guidebook, legend says a fire destroyed every piece of the wooden gate that used to stand there except the painting. We also stopped by St. Mark’s Church and its gorgeous tile roof, where I was tempted to join a photographer stationed outside with a tripod assumedly waiting for the blue hour, but moved on as we still had another stop to hit before nightfall: The Museum of Broken Relationships.
This museum isn’t like any other you’ve visited and, honestly, it’s quite weird, but the journalist inside of me totally dug the idea of spending an hour reading regular people’s relationship stories and digesting the objects they donated to represent them. That included everything from high heels, to an actual axe, to a stuffed caterpillar with some of its legs torn off, accompanying stories of broken relationships between lovers, spouses, and sons and daughters with their parents. A bit depressing, but very unique.
Afterward, we went to dinner at Boban for what was perhaps the best Italian food we’ve had outside of Italy. Gui and I shared a creamy burrata and I ordered gnocchi, which was absolutely fabulous (and to be clear, as a gnocchi fanatic I can be quite a harsh judge). I’d highly recommend grabbing a sidewalk table there if you’re even in Zagreb.
Check back soon for another post. Next stop: Bosnia and Herzegovina!