At the end of the month I’d like to look back on what I’ve done, on how I felt and what was on my mind. While scrolling through the photos, I immediately got a smile on my face. I like Zagreb. It’s been almost two months since I left the Netherlands and although I thought I didn’t do much, except for learning Croatian, it turned out that I explored quite a bit. So, here’s a photo journal about my life in Zagreb and an unorganized list of things to do in and around Zagreb.
Life in Zagreb
This March I didn’t hike, bike or travel, but stayed in Zagreb to learn Croatian, just like last year. Because of last years extreme cold I packed more woollen clothes than I could carry, but Zagreb welcomed me with a mild winter-is-over climate. I think I’ve never seen so many blue skies in March, it’s fantastic. Sun makes life a whole lot easier if you ask me.
As usual I totally underestimated how much time and energy learning a new language costs. Thought I would have plenty of time to work on my blog, to finally finish uploading trail data, notes, thoughts and stories, but once the course started I spend most of my time in the books. Not that that’s a problem, I love to study and I think it would be silly not to take the time I need.
Two steps forward
Despite all the time and effort it often feels like my Croatian is getting worse instead of better. The more we learn in class, the more difficult it seems to put into practice. “That’s what’s learning is like” a classmate said, “two steps forward, one step back”. Although we (my classmates – Liza & Lisa – and me) often automatically switch to English, we frequently go for a coffee to speak Croatian with each other. This is really great, it gets me over that barrier of speaking Croatian in public and it’s nice to hang out with them. I’m so proud of us. Proud, happy and thankful.
Running around Jarun
The apartment where I live is close to Jarun, a lake south of Zagreb. Or in the southern part of Zagreb. During the weekend it’s crowded, but on week days I love to go for a walk. I planned to start running, but can’t really motivate myself. Usually I find myself a nice place in the sun to sit and write and read. Volim Jarun 🙂
The Croatian language is a complicated puzzle, but every now and then it’s starts to make sense. Until something new shows up. Usually that happens before I figured out the previous mysteries. Nevertheless, I’m happy to focus on just one thing. Have to remind myself that learning Croatian is what I’m here for and I don’t have to do all the other things at the same time. I sometimes forget, but overall I feel odlično and that’s great.
We’re only with three girls in the course, which is great. There is so much time for us to talk and struggle. We can ask whatever we want and there’s no way you can hide in the back. The other girls, Lisa & Liza are very motivated as well. We regularly meet before or after class to practise our conversation skills. I feel totally comfortable with them and I think we all have our own strengths.
Lisa is really good in conjugating verbs, adjectives and whatever else there is to conjugate. Conjugate, do you conjugate adjectives or is that called differently? Anyways, Lisa uses the grammar we’ve learned in class immediately while I tend to stick to what I know. I have a good memory, I know the words and understand the grammar, but as soon as I start to speak, everything disappears.
The other Liza on the other hand speaks easily, she naturally feels how to construct sentences, how to pronounce everything and she has her Russian, Polish and Ukrainian vocabulary to fill up the gaps. That’s how I speak German, I add Dutch words or try to make them sound German. The fun thing is that it often works.
Biking in Zagreb
Maybe it’s because I’m from the Netherlands, but I can’t imagine living in a city without a bicycle. Depending on public transport makes me feel incredibly un-free. Dependent I guess. Every morning I carry my red hero four flours down and every evening she has to go up again. It is worth the hassle. Biking in Zagreb makes me happy. Even the daily delay at the railway crossing – that thing is always closed – is in a strange way a good thing. It forces me to except that things are the way they are. Frustration will only make it worse, so I embraced the time I get to wait in front of the barriers to be quiet and un-rush.
From a distance it looks pretty, a white castle on a green mountain. Medvedgrad. Thought this castle would be one of those beautifully overgrown ruins, like the one above Samobor, but the closer I got the less romantic it turned out to be. They’re rebuilding or renovating it, hopefully for the better, but I’m not so sure. Nevertheless, the hike was great and the view not bad neither. And, I can finally tick the Medved grad hike off my list.
Zagreb full of Light | Festival svjetla Zagreb
What is life without light? What is life without the art of light? the website asks.
Dark, I think.
Darker than dark.
Where I like to go to write, read or study. You might call it a co-work space with a living room vibe, I don’t know. I don’t know what this place exactly is. During the day Booksa works as a cafeteria with good, uncomplicated coffee. They play great music, but not too loud. It can be full, but never crowded. It’s not mainstream, but not hipster neither. I simply like the atmosphere, the diversity of people this place attracts and the fact that it’s filled with books. 🙂
They say Sljeme when they talk about Medvednica. Sljeme is the peak, Medvednica is the mountain and Runolist the hut where we got food.
Samobor is a small medieval town 20 kilometres from Zagreb, famous for its Kremšnite. I believe it’s one of the first tourist destinations in Croatia and it’s still popular among Croatians. Perfect for a Sunday excursion, especially when it’s sunny. Somehow Samobor takes me back to our family holidays where we often visited little towns with old castles and churches. Back then I didn’t always like this sightseeing, but now, many many years later, those memories give me warm feelings.
This time Liza & Lisa accompanied me. Together we biked to Samobor, walked the promenade walk, hiked up to the old castle, had Kremšnite (Liza) and ice cream (Lisa) and coffee (me) and biked back to Zagreb. ✌️