I booked an Airbnb for three months in Zadar, from June to August. I made the plans to stay in the area the whole time. However, when we arrived at our home in Zadar Onawa was tired and lethargic for the first two days. I thought her illness might be due to overheating because of the drastic of temperature differences from our road trip between the Tara Mountains, Bosnia and then Croatian coast. I took her on a few walks, but she wasn’t herself, I rushed her to the vet, they told me to go to Zagreb for more tests. Zadar is almost three hours from the capital city of Zagreb. It is a city with beautiful architecture, fabulous parks, and even a mountain to hike in the summer, or ski in the winter.
I wrote more about Onawa’s medical experience and about her diagnosed Addison’s disease.
While in Belgrade I was told Zagreb is a great town. They won the European Christmas experience in 2018, making them the coolest town in Europe to spend Christmas. There are lakes, mountains, tunnels under the city, incredible restaurants and many interesting streets to explore.
The first time I came to Zagreb I stayed in the DoubleTree, but since it was short notice they didn’t have any rooms for more than two days. We found Milka apartments on Booking.com. The apartment was in the center of the city, which is very nice, but the internet kept going in and out making it difficult to work there.
Usually when choosing a house, or apartment I ask about the internet and the location of the modem. Unfortunately, this trip was last minute, I had no time to shop around. Nevertheless, we learned that Zagreb has no shortage of cool cafes to work in, we didn’t have any trouble. There are also coworking places, the one I tried was Impact Hub. It’s nice, but you can’t talk in any of the work areas, everyone must be totally quiet which I didn’t like. I like to go to coworking places for the noise and energy.
Fiorella and I went exploring the old town, we had ice coffee and people watched from the outside sofas. We were only able to see Onawa once a day so we were free to enjoy the city and distract ourselves. On the fourth day she was released, a day early, we arranged with the Milka Apartments to use the extra day as a credit for a future stay. Then took an Uber back to Zadar. It only took two more days till Onawa was deathly sick again and I was back in an Uber on my way to Zagreb. This time I went alone, I needed to be alone for this.
I stayed in the DoubleTree a couple of nights which was nice because they have a pool and hot tub. I needed to unwind a bit from all the nights without sleep. Once again after three days the DoubleTree was fully booked so I moved to a Booking.com apartment not far from the vet, I stayed there another three days. I thought surely, we would know what was wrong with her by then, but we didn’t. I moved to the Hilton Canopy next, this time for a week. I really like the Canopy, it’s in the city center, not far from the train station and there is a tram stop next to the hotel.
While at the Canopy Onawa was diagnosed and medicated, we then took a Blah Blah car back to Zadar. We stayed and enjoyed exploring Zadar and the neighboring towns until July 25th. This time my mom and Fiorella came with Onawa and I to Zagreb. I tried something new, I booked an apartment with the local agency Milka Apartments instead of Airbnb. The agency gave us an apartment on the other side of town from the one we stayed in before. When we arrived, I was shocked to see the apartment had no dressers, only a tiny wardrobe filled with blankets and pillows in the second room which barely fit the bed. It was not at all what I was expecting from the pictures. Also, only one air conditioner barely cooled the apartment. I had a terrible experience with the management, but I decided to leave all that out. We were supposed to stay a month, but there was no way I could tolerate the horrible apartment for that long. I negotiated changing the dates to two weeks. I booked another two weeks at an Airbnb and then later another ten days at the brand-new Hilton Garden Inn.
After two weeks in the disappointing Milka Apartment we moved into an Airbnb closer to Lake Jarun. We enjoyed the Lake Jarun neighborhoods, there was a lot to do, many cafes and loads of delicious restaurants to explore. We went to Namaste India, a fine dining Indian restaurant and many other restaurants which are all reviewed on Trip Advisor. We enjoyed Namaste’s chicken tandoori pineapple salad and their crispy thin naan bread. In the Jarun neighborhood our favorite place was the Jarun market with its specialty shops.
On the weekends we explored the city and the mountain a few times. There are cafes and restaurants along the mountain all the way to the top and three nice ones on the top. We took the number 14 tram to the last stop then got off and got onto the number 140 bus, the bus stops along the way for people to get off and hike at different levels then continues to the top of the mountain. The mountain is amazing! I’m not sure why, but it’s about thirteen degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the temperature in the center of the city. I asked everyone why it’s cooler, but couldn’t get a definite answer as to why. The mountain isn’t tall enough to be so much cooler.
Our first Saturday in Zagreb my mom and I spent the day on the mountain. When leaving the historic hotel’s restaurant, I saw a tiny cute kitten. I tried to catch it, but instead got bit, hard. I was so worried I had caught rabies! The following day I went to the doctor. It turns out they haven’t had a rabies incident in humans in over ten years and are practically rabies free. The government has an initiative with rabies oral vaccines distributed in forests for the foxes.
One weekend I spent the whole Saturday in and out of the tunnels which enter and exit from one side of the center to the other. The Grič area is very fun! It’s the last exit out of the tunnel and above the city, the view is incredible, it’s the highest area of the city center. There are lots of cafes and bars, an amazing ice cream place and yummy sausages. The massive Saint Mark’s church and famous square can be found up there too.
I would put Zagreb high on my list of foodie towns due to a variety of restaurants. The regional dishes include squashes, meats and lots of vegetables. I was impressed to find roasted pumpkin seed oil in our Airbnb. I used it for a sauté and for chickpea curry which were incredible. The flavor of the oil adds rich deepness to the dishes. While at the Hilton Garden Inn our waiter told us about his home region where the pumpkin seed oil is a staple. They use it for everything! He brought some of the cherished oil for us to eat with bread. It was not like anything I’ve ever experienced before. The flavor is rich and nutty, but also a bit sweet. We loved it!
Another favorite in Zagreb was the local squash stew which is made from steamed strips of grated squash with tomato and sour cream then served with a touch of dill and mashed potatoes. Grated squash can be found in the famous red parasol covered Dolac market already stripped allowing prep free preparation.
Sundays year-round, the Market on Britanski trg (British Square) sells antiques. I met a man who had a table of little boxes. It was a delight to see I’m not the only one who collects them. We discussed our little box collections for a bit and then I sadly had to decline buying any because I have absolutely no room in my bags. It’s bad enough I have no space for what I already own, I’m overflowing.
The other notable place I enjoyed was a surprise to me. I don’t usually go to cemeteries, I don’t like them, but my mother insisted this one is different and yes, it is. The beautiful architecture including columns leading up to painted domes are exquisite. A little canary yellow church in the center was a delight for taking pictures. The photogenic property would be amazing during any season. I’m keen to see it again some autumn sunny day.
We finished our stay in Zagreb at the end of August and made our way to Skradin for Kirka National Park, I’ll be posting that story October 15th.