If you head down Ilica on a Sunday morning you may find yourself walking past little bunches of old ladies emerging from churches, or stepping around gaggles of friends gathering for coffee during špica. If you keep on heading west from the main square, after a comfortable ten minute amble you will arrive at a remarkable place: Britanski Trg.
British Square, as it may be translated, usually hosts a regular green market. But on Sundays the square undergoes a radical transformation. It becomes a flea market and antique fair and here you can buy almost anything you could never need.
From old Yugoslav-era books, photos and postcards, to reels of film, old sunglasses (now cool again), recycled designer fashions, handmade wooden toys, baroque furniture, old costume jewellery – and all of it under the signature red umbrellas that Zagreb markets are famous for.
Located at the bottom of the hill that leads up to Šestine and the part of Zagreb where the diplomats and football stars live, Britanski Trg has always been considered a posh place to shop. Not that there is anything particularly posh about it. As well as the regular market, it has the usual array of bakeries, kiosks and supermarkets, as well as an exotic fruit and vegetable shop, a fishmonger and a butcher. Locals are certain that the green market is more expensive than other markets around Zagreb, mostly because of those pesky diplomats. But if you happen to live locally and need a handful of onions, ten eggs and a packet of cheese it’s pretty handy.
If the crowds and old trinkets get too much for you, you can stop for a coffee and a pile of pancakes at Kava Tava. This place was hip long before it was ever hipster. Repurposed barrels papered in old movie posters serve as tall tables. A red scooter is always parked in front and the regular tables and chairs stretch almost all the way around the market, interspersed with the odd old armoire. Tables aren’t numbered; instead you are given an old book with your order. “Are you Grapes of Wrath?” asks the waiter, delivering our pancakes.
“Normally we are,” I think, tucking in. “But not today. Not here.”