sheez, i feel like it’s been forever since i updated. due to me only having a short time here and there being so much to see, i havent had much of a chance to get online. here’s what i’ve beeb up to:
after a long train ride from budapest, i arrived in Zagreb at almost 11pm. unfortunately, i was never able to buy a guidebook for croatia, and arrived in Zagreb armed w/ only a phone number for a local hostel (described online as “filthy, disgusting, smells like piss, and is run by the angriest man in croatia). i had no idea where this hotel was, how to get there, and also i didnt have any of the local currency. i went to an atm, and quickly realized that i had a slight problem: i had no clue how much their currency is worth!! should i get out 200 kunas, or 500, or 1000?? i didnt want to end up taking lie 300 dollars out accidentally, but at the same time, i didnt wnt to end up not having enough kunas once i got to the hostel. i ended up checking the price tag on a bag of chips, and trying to guestimate how many bags of chips would equal a room in a hostel. heh, i ended up getting way too much in the end, but at leat it sounded like a good plan!!
after buying a phone card from the nice lady at the stand, i was on my way. btw, the few people i ended up asking questions to in the train station, were all really nice and helpful. and also, for the next several days to come, i would find pretty much everyone i talked to in croatia (other than the hostel owner) very nice. it made me so glad that i wasnt in budapest anymore!! anyways, when i got to my hostel room, i found out that i would be sharing my room w/ two americans: Damian, a vegetarian from L.A. who, funnily enough, quit being a vegetarian for 2 years in college cause his roommate paid most of his rent in meat; and Ira, a theology major originally from oklahoma city, who now lived in Chicago. they were both traveling through europe for a long time (6 and 8 months respectively), and we ended up talking for a while about our random experiences while on the road.
the following day, we headed out to explore town, and on the ay out of the hostel, found out why the hostel owner got his reputation. he immediately started yelling at us for not having paid before 9am,and demanded money from us. when we kind of chuckled, he yelled at us that it wasn’t funny, and if we want to continue staying there, we have to be sure to pay in advance. not only that, but he absolutely refused to take anything except for exact change, and got all pissed that we wanted to pay w/ bill that really werent all that much larger than the cost of the hostel. sheesh!!
anyways, we headed out to get some food. it turns out, that both of these guys usually for breakfast, and sometimes lunch, just go and grab food at mini-markets or pastry shops. now, i hadnt really done any grocery shopping since france, where i had an apartment to cook in, but now i’m kicking myself for not doing this before. it’s a great way to eat really really cheap, and the food is actually really good. for instance, today, i asked the deli guy to cut me off 3 pieces of turkey, 3 pieces of cheese, and 1/5 of a loaf of bread… even after adding the cup of coffee i had at a cafe while eating my food, i only spent 2 bucks on this meal!! i’m definitely planning on doing this as much as i can in the future!
after dropping off some laundry (all the way across town, ugh!), damian and i went on a walking tour of zagreb. there was a lot to see, and it was nice that pretty much all of it was very close to this square i the center of town. the interesting part of zagreb is fairly compact, and we were able to see a lot of the sights i just a few hours. although zagreb may not have as many crazy buildings etc as budapest, i still really enjoyed the town.
when we went to pick up my laundry, the lady handed it back to me in a basket… without my compression sack that the clothes was in originally. uh-oh! i tried to make hand signals to indicate that i wanted my bag, to which the lady just went and got me a plastic bag to put the laundry in. crap. i tried to say that i needed *my* bag, that it was a special bag, and that i definitely needed it back… but she didnt know any english at all. how do you hand-mime compression sack?? luckily, i found my bag in this closet, and got a weird look from the lady who i’m sure was wondering why the hell i was so particular about what to her looked just like a random plastic bag.
that night, for a chnage of pace, and to explore croatian culture, the three of us went to the opera. the opera was called… err, well, actually i’m not exactly sure what it was called, but it was about…. err… well, i actually am not exactly sure what it was about either! after act 1, the three of us were completely baffled and had no idea just what it was that was going on. so i went up to one of the employees downstairs, and asked if she spoke english and whether she could tell me what was going on. i felt kinda dumb asking her (hat were we doing there if we couldnt even understand what we were seeing), but she was nice about it, and let me read this snippet in english about the plot. that definitely helped us decipher the next two acts, but we were definitely still ometimes baffled. the plot was basically about this ego maniac war leader from anciant rome, that went around pissing everyone off, until, in the last 10 minutes of the opera, he sees the error of his way and decides to not be evil anymore, afterwhich he is promptly killed. the building that the opera was in was simply amazing! large chandeliers, statues, paintings, and for some reason we actually ended up w/ box seats!!
after the opera, we went out to get some drinks. we first went to this pretty cool bar that was playing some good music:electric 6, peaches, etc. there was a list of all the various types of alochol they sell, and beers, and a bit lower down, there was something called a “sendvic” which was a bit more expensive than the rest. we decided to try it out seeing as it was their speciality… but when damian went up to order it, it turned out that it wasnt a speciality at all, and a “sendvic” was just croatian for sandwhich. oops!! the bar closed fairly early, at midnight, and then we couldnt seem to find anything else open. when i asked this random young person what there was to do at that hour, they replied “nothing, there’s nothing to do!!” and when i said that it was only midnight, they said “but you’re in zagreb! theres nothing here after midnight”. hrm, so much for nightlife!!