Advent in Zagreb
It’s that time again – advent in Zagreb.
Back when we arrived in 2013, there was one fairly small but cool Christmas market near the funicular. We went there each night to eat sushi (!) and drink beer and chat to the guy who ran it. He was from Syria and had come to Croatia on some sort of humanitarian university scholarship visa thing several years earlier. His Croatian, as far as we could tell, was pretty good.
The rest of the city though had just a few stalls – nothing too exciting. And the ice rink was just a small rectangle in the main square.
Oh, the difference three years makes!
Zagreb is now abundant in Christmas markets, and each part of the city has its own flavour. We went to the opening on Saturday night, but it was absolutely rammed, and we couldn’t really see what was on offer. So we had a walk around on Sunday during the day to check out all the different markets.
Zrinjevac is the park closest to the main square. Here you’ll find cabins selling handmade crafts and chocolates, as well as a good selection of hotdog and beer joints. Hotdogs and beer are pretty well the entire diet of Zagreb in December. The huts gather and meet at the central gazebo, where there’s music every night. And damn good music, too, actually. We caught a band on Saturday night that rocked the joint.
On Sunday, we spent at least a half hour here at Zrinjevac playing a giant Ludo game. In the nature of these games it was a load of fun at first, then became kinda dull, then got fun again toward the end. Josh won, but I think we can all agree he cheated his arse off.
This is new this year, I think. JJ Stross Park has been turned into a little miniature wonderland, just for kids. The emphasis at these huts is on sweet things. There’s also a stage, so I gather there will be kids events on as well.
The Ice Park
They hit it out of the park with last year’s ice rink. Not just a postage stamp in the main square any longer, Zagreb’s ice rink takes up the whole of Tomislav Square. With the gorgeous backdrop of the Art Pavilion, the rink extends in a circle around the rest of the park, with the fountain at its centre. It’s just fabulous.
(to be honest, C and I haven’t skated here, yet. We just go to have a beer on the viewing platform and watch the Zamboni).
Fuliranje on European Square
Those original markets at the funicular have expanded and are now found in two locations. The one on European Square was still in a state of undress when we went through on Sunday, but most of the stalls were open or almost open. It’s distinct from the rest of the Christmas markets because it’s targeting a younger crowd. So this is the place to come for vegan kebabs and dance music (rather than hotdogs and folk). We decided to lunch here, and I gotta say, we regretted it. That vegan kebab was 40 kuna and my own rather fancy hotdog was 35 kuna. Keep in mind that all the other huts only charge 12 kuna for a hotdog. Boy did we feel ripped off, particularly when the food really wasn’t that great.
That’s a brief round up of the markets that we visited. The photos were mostly taken on Monday afternoon when I was back in the area – this is the only time you will find the markets so empty! During the evenings they’re absolutely rammed. So get along, have a hot wine and a hot dog, and have a hot time 🙂