After a hectic start to the week, we managed to find a nice slow rhythm, and are now in Bohinj, feeling quite rested after four days in Zagreb.
Monday 8/10: Felix and Birgit had to leave for work at 7.30am, and it made sense for us to go with them. So we piled into their car, then hopped on a bus, and took two U-bahn trains to Vienna Meidling station, saying goodbye to Birgit at one subway station and to Felix at another.
We had to wait an hour or so for our train to Graz, and the journey there was comfortable and beautiful — I love the Austrian countryside! On arrival in Graz, we picked up some tourist brochures, stored our bags in the large lockers that are available in the station, and walked into town.
We’d had short stops in Graz before, but it was never enough time to see much of the city. This time, though, we had almost four hours to fill, and we did quite a good job of filling them. First up was lunch in an inexpensive and popular restaurant, and after that we followed the walking instructions on our brochure to do a tour of the city. We saw beautiful open courtyards, stylish architecture, a hidden church, a double-spiral staircase, and a glockenspiel — it was all very impressive. On the way back to the train station we crossed the River Mur at the Murinsel and saw the Kunsthaus, which were both constructed when Graz was European Capital of Culture in 2003.
Two short train journeys later we arrived in Maribor, where we had the address of our couchsurfing host but didn’t know which bus we had to catch nor where to get off. Luckily we stumbled upon the bus station and a friendly clerk explained the bus system to us, and we made it to Asja’s house without too much hassle. Asja and her parents made us really welcome, first feeding us freshly baked muffins and later on a full dinner.
Tuesday 9/10: We made a bit of a late start, and spent the first part of the morning chatting with Asja and her friend. By the time we arrived in town by bus it was already 12.30, but we managed to see a lot — the map we’d picked up the day before had ten important sights to visit, and we saw eight of them as well as wandering through the town park and climbing Piramida hill for a good view of the city.
Stop number three on our walk was the VINAG wine cellar, and we arrived at 1.15pm, quarter of an hour after the start of the cellar tour. Luckily, though, the attendant saw us looking sadly at the sign and told us we weren’t too late — so we joined the group and got to see the old wooden barrels and stainless steel vats of the cellar, as well as their archive stores.
After that it was time for lunch, and we had traditional Slovenian fare and green beer at a restaurant called Stajerc, which Asja had recommended to us.
We decided to walk home, and arrived to find dinner waiting — Asja’s parents were so good to us! We spent the evening chatting with them as Asja was out, and turned in relatively early.
Wednesday 10/10: As our train wasn’t until 1pm, we had a relaxed morning and left the house at around 12.30. The only hiccup on the journey was that our connecting train from Zdani Most was delayed by half an hour and it was a cold wait.
We arrived in Zagreb at 5.40pm and changed our leftover Czech crowns to kuna at a fair rate — the 1.5% commission was much more acceptable to me than the 19.5% equivalent at Prague main station. Next, we bought tram tickets and hopped on a tram to the end of the line, where our couchsurfing host Marina had said she’d meet us if we sent her a text. But we ran into problems — Craig’s phone wasn’t working and we couldn’t get the Droam to connect either. Eventually we bought a cheap phone card and used a phone box to call her, but we’d been starting to run out of options!
Marina took us back to her place, introduced us to her husband Damir and her three sons Ivan, Domy, and Mislav, and fed us tasty Croatian food. We spent the evening chatting about travel and how awesome couchsurfing is.
Thursday 11/10: The weather forecast was not great for the next few days, so we decided to get as much outdoor sightseeing done on Thursday (which was only cloudy) as possible. Of course, we made a late start and only left the house at 11.30, and then our tram was diverted and delayed. When we finally made it to town, we were starving, so we had lunch in a grill restaurant near the market — and in keeping with the theme of the day, we had to wait an hour for our (very tasty) order.
After lunch we completed the two walking tours indicated on our map, the first of the upper town and the second of the lower town. We saw a whole lot of churches, one with an awesome roof and another with a great ceiling, and walked through a stone gate which also has a small chapel inside.
After a short wander through the botanical gardens, we found ourselves at the Archaeology Museum, and spent a good couple of hours exploring the exhibits –which seemed to cover everything from currency to mummies. By the time we came out, it was time to go home — we walked part of the way, stopping in supermarkets occasionally.
Friday 12/10: We were a bit more successful in leaving the house at a reasonable hour, and made it into the city by 11.30. There, we promptly installed ourselves in a cafe and worked solidly for three hours, fuelled by multiple cups of coffee.
Our afternoon activity was to visit the famous Museum of Broken Relationships, which was interesting, well-curated, and quite sad. Each of the objects on display represents a relationship that’s ended, and most of them had some sort of explanation — which of course was the sad part. We were both a little sombre when we left.
Back home, we cooked nachos for dinner then watched an important football game between Croatia and Macedonia — luckily, Croatia won.
Saturday 13/10: In a repeat of Friday, we spent several hours working in a cafe, and didn’t manage to leave until after 4pm. By this time we were very hungry, so we found a bakery and ate our burek in the main square before catching a tram to Jarun, where there’s a large artificial lake. We wandered alongside the lake, talking about the future, and stopped in one of the lakeside bars for a drink.
Sunday 14/10: We hadn’t really considered the fact that it was Sunday when planning our onwards journey, and had to take a later bus into the city than we would have liked. We just missed one connecting tram, which stressed us out a little, but the one we eventually took got us to Zagreb main station with plenty of time to catch our train — which was delayed! It also turned out to be very busy, the entire first class section was full — not surprising really, given that the “first class section” comprised half a carriage. There were no power points and Craig’s laptop ran out of battery, so he couldn’t work; I didn’t want to work anyway, the views were so incredible. It was a spectacularly beautiful journey.
Our couchsurfing host Marjana picked us up at Bohinj station and took us back to her place not far away; we spent the evening chatting and eating the burek we’d picked up during our one train change — we’d failed to find an open supermarket, otherwise we’d have bought wine.
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