13 Jun A difficult day in Zagreb
Sitting in the Gallery of Modern Art and lucky to be here when a huge thunderstorm set off! Seeing how unprepared we were for the weather (shorts, sandals) the staff here suggested we just take a seat in the gallery and wait for it to pass.
Jim set to sketching to pass the time.
Croatia and we got off to a bad start. Arrived in Zagreb’s main station on the 0825 from Ljubljana (a prolonged stop at the border for passport checks – both sides, very officious, first time since boarding the Eurostar at St Pancras). We needed a loo and tourist information, preferably in that order. Signs at the exit from the platforms suggested both requirements would be met, albeit in opposite directions. So, feeling confident and positive, we took a brisk left towards the WC where we encountered the formidable, bearded Jana. Apologies to all Jana’s – it may not have been her name but she needed to have one for future reference in our shared memory bank. When I say ‘bearded’, I mean extensive; not quite Eurovision song contest winner standard but well on the way. She might have got away with that had it not been for the sour face, lack of humour, humanity even, and an evidently well-honed capacity for unhelpfulness. To use the loo at Zagreb station you need 4 kuna (local currency which we hadn’t exchanged yet) or 50 cents (euro). We had spent most of our euro change on a couple of coffees on the train (hence the urgency of the task at hand, so to speak). I could muster 43 cents. Himself had greater need than me (unusual, it must be said) so I offered to exercise restraint should Jana be prepared to cut us a deal. The stone-faced Jana remained unmoved. To the rescue came a gallant local chap who had seen this little episode and thrust three coins into Jim’s hand – 6 kuna. Enough for Jim to go and a bit left over towards the next time! Such a spontaneous act of kindness helped make up for the froideur of the monstrous Jana. Perhaps Jana was just gutted about last night’s result against Brazil. The telltale signs of football mania are all over the city – wing mirrors on cars sporting little red and white checked covers.
While the sun was shining, we managed to tour round the upper town, much lovelier, older and well-preserved than we expected. We had in mind a spot of lunch in a simple little bistro tucked away in one of the little squares, but while it seems you can drink yourself under the table in the old town, there is not an eatery in sight. Eventually, a little corner shop came up with a roll with cheese which we chased down with a cold drink outside the – wait for it – Museum of Broken Relationships. No kidding!