Zagreb, Day 1

I’ve been busy sightseeing (that includes eating), the weather is absolutely gorgeous, and I’ve been having a lot of fun. First, where I’m located: in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia (right edge of photo in the middle). Italy, Austria, and Slovenia are right next door.

Yesterday included several large meals (not including the breakfast buffet in the hotel), and dinner last night as well as lunch today (Sunday) will appear in the next installment. The day began with my new friend Darko Polšek (a professor of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Zagreb) showing me around the center of the Old Town. This is a lovely city that was barely touched during the Second world War.

On Saturday there’s a big market, which runs every day but is busiest on the weekend. Flowers:

A stall that sold almost nothing but dried figs:

The cheeses of Croatia, which, as Anthony Bourdain discovered, are superb:

Honey and olive oil are big local products:

Peppers are ubiquitous in the Balkans, and so here; I’ve already eaten them several times:

Fresh dates for sale (the unit of currency is the Croatian kuna, worth about sixteen U.S. cents), so these dates are about $6.50 per kilo:

The fish market is busiest on Friday (this is, after all, a Catholic country), but was humming on Saturday as well:

I don’t know the species:

Zagreb Cathedral, described by Wikipedia as. .

. . . a Roman Catholic institution and not only the tallest building in Croatia but also the most monumental sacral building in Gothic style southeast of the Alps. It is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and to kings Saint Stephen and Saint Ladislaus. The cathedral is typically Gothic, as is its sacristy, which is of great architectural value. Its prominent spires are considered to be landmarks as they are visible from most parts of the city.

It was rebuilt in the 13th century after being destroyed by the Mongols; it was again rebuilt after being largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1880.

Some local priests or monks or whoever wears these kind of frocks:

The “upper town”, part of Old Town, is located atop a small hill; there sits the government offices and other interesting sights. Note the sight indicated third from the bottom:

Yes, it’s the famous Museum of Broken Relationships, wherein resides the residua of failed marriages, betrothals, and other unsuccessful romantic entanglements. This is one place I will definitely be visiting. Here’s the entrance, and you can read more about it at the Wikipedia link above. I will report further after my visit:

An icon in the alleyway, where a mother and daughter kneeled to pray:

St. Mark’s Church, built in the 13th century and altered in the 14th. The tiled roofs are more recent, and represent the coat of arms of Zagreb (the white castle) and Croatia (the partly checkered shield to the left):

I’m told this is the world’s shortest funicular, which must take about one minute to ascend. It runs between the upper and lower parts of Old Town and costs one tram ticket to ride (trams are the public transport in Old Town):

Lunchtime at this traditional restaurant:

My lunch started with paški, a famous sheep cheese from the Adriatic island of Pag. I’m told the island is bare and small, and so the sheep graze on salty and fragrant herbs. (Thanks to Pavel for getting the food names for me.)

My main course: vješalica: pork rolls filled with melted cheese and wrapped with bacon. Note that peppers are in both courses.

. . . washed down with a local brew. The beer is very good here. I’m limiting myself as far as possible to traditional Croatian food and local beer, although Croatian food overlaps heavily with other Balkan cuisines like Serbian. Beers come in 0.3 and 0.5 liters; I favor the latter, of course.

A view over the lower town and the cathedral:

The next two photos are by Darko. The first is by a government building, and the last word on the sign is the Croatian word for “Croatia,” (“Hrvatske”), which I am totally unable to pronounce (the “r” is rolled”).

And a selfie with Darko and me:


More photos and tales tomorrow, including our visit to the Neanderthal Museum and two more excellent meals.


  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    “Darko Polšek” — great name for a character in a Cold-War era noir novel.

    • dabertini
      Posted October 14, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Yes but it doesn’t fit classic Croatian names like modric, mihailovic, babic, sumic, grodovic. I could listen to that all day long. Great post.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted October 14, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink


    • Mark R.
      Posted October 14, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      Or the name of a troubled teenager plagued by visions of a large menacing rabbit…

  2. Hempenstein
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Any comment how a fresh date tastes vs. the dried kind?

    • Giancarlo
      Posted October 14, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      I think those may not be palm dates, but rather jujube. The are sometimes known as Chinese dates, but they are actually from a tree in the buckthorn family, not palms.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted October 14, 2018 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

        Thx. I thought jujubes had a surface somewhat like a large raspberry (for lack of other comparison) but looking at images now, they do seem to resemble what PCC[E] encountered.

      • Henry
        Posted October 15, 2018 at 4:35 am | Permalink

        Yes, that is jujube (“žižule” in Croatian). They are mostly grown in the west of the country, in Istria.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    … a lovely city that was barely touched during the Second world War.

    I think that (and the Ustashe) may have been a bit of a sore spot among the old-timers in Croatia’s neighboring republics of the former Yugoslavia.

    • Posted October 14, 2018 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Croatia small Jewish community would agree as well. Ask someone about Ante Pavelic.

    • BJ
      Posted October 14, 2018 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      Hey, Ken, I never got your feedback a few months ago on this:

      I’m not bringing it up because I’m looking to argue 🙂 I just was (and still am) genuinely curious about your thoughts.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 14, 2018 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

        Making me read ABA proposed rules borders on a violation of the Eight Amendment’s “cruel and unusual punishment” clause, BJ. But, at your request, I’ve done so, and I’m in general agreement with Prof. Volokh.

        I think the rule, or something close to it, could be enforced regarding speech directly related to a lawyer’s speech pertaining to the representation of a client in court, since it’s pretty well established that the First Amendment has limited applicability to such speech (a principle that’s unlikely to be revisited anytime soon). But, beyond that, I think it’s overbroad and an unconstitutional restriction on free expression.

        I tend to be a free-speech absolutist, BJ. I don’t think anybody ought to be compelled to say (or prohibited from saying) a goddamn thing they want or don’t want to, unless there’s a damn good and narrowly defined reason.

        • BJ
          Posted October 14, 2018 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

          Oh, I know how you feel about free speech 🙂 But I thought the whole the very interesting, and I find it a rather frightening signal of a possible shift. What happens when the students in law school today and those soon to enter law school end up at the ABA? I shutter to think about the direction it might take then, though the courts might thankfully step in when they inevitably go too far.

          I didn’t mean to make you read the proposed rules, Ken 😦 I just thought you’d read the article. If you decided to go read the actual proposals, your punishment is self-inflicted and I cannot be held liable for any emotional distress it may have caused.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    I’m limiting myself as far as possible to traditional Croatian food and local beer …

    Attaboy, boss — if you’re gonna go, go native, I always say.

  5. jhs
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    I reading your travel posts. Thank you.

  6. Glenda Palmer
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful to follow. I especially enjoy architecture you show. Stay safe.

  7. Claudia Baker
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Lovely and interesting. Look forward to the next post…

  8. rickflick
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Museum of broken relationships? Neanderthal museum? I’m breathless with anticipation!

    Curiously, a new paper in Nature shows Neanderthals were probably not the advanced toolmakers that has been believed.

    • Mike Cracraft
      Posted October 14, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if there will be any busts of popes in the Neanderthal Museum.

      • rickflick
        Posted October 14, 2018 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        That would be a great sight indeed. Much better would be seeing a Pope busted.

        • W.T. Effingham
          Posted October 14, 2018 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

          Or perhaps a bust of Ken Ham surrounded by busts of several characters from the original Planet of the Apes movie.💀

          • W.T. Effingham
            Posted October 14, 2018 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

            For the “Fiction of the Opposition” section .

      • Mike
        Posted October 14, 2018 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        In 1990, the Neanderthal Museum by Dusseldorf, Germany had a replica Neanderthal man dressed up in a suit and tie.

        Looked a lot like my supervisor.

  9. Posted October 14, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Professor CC,
    How do you find time to take, post, and comment on all those gorgeous pictures – at the same time giving us the historic and cultural background? Impressive and appreciated.
    By now you have heard a bit of the Croatian language, one of the loveliest in Europe. Except for the short form of “Good Bye” which my Zagrebian cousins abbreviate with “Bok!” – making them sound like excited chickens. Bok derives from Zbogom, much more pleasant to hear, but literally translated as “(Go) with God”.
    Anyway, thanks for the amazing photos and commentary.

  10. Mark R.
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    The skusa is mackerel, the gavun is smelt/whitefish, the skrpina is grouper, the orada is bream, the oslić is hake…google is my friend.

  11. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Another one for the Bucket List!

  12. Posted October 14, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Museum of broken relationships,
    perhaps Prof(E), you could leave a signed copy of Faith vs Fact for their exhibitions.
    Tears will flow, so make sure there is a smiling cat with the signature.

  13. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I believe those type of clerical vestments are only worn by priests while performing services, so I would say those are monks.


    The area of Yugoslavia I vacationed in for 2 weeks in the 1980s is now Bosnia; I thoroughly enjoyed the area.


    I’ve always been a bit of connoisseur of break-up songs, and had my own horror story circa 2000, so I’m certainly intrigued by the museum of broken relationships.
    Bob Dylan’s 2nd and 4th albums had 3 terrific break-up songs, two of which became very famous (“Don’t Think Twice” and “It Ain’t Me, Babe”) but my favorite its the third one which languished in obscurity (“I Don’t Believe You”). The great break-up song of the century is “The Man that Got Away” sung by Judy Garland in the 2nd of what are now 4 versions of “A Star is Born”.

    • Henry
      Posted October 15, 2018 at 7:11 am | Permalink

      Yes, those are monks/friar. The ones in white cloaks are Dominican, the black are most likely either Jesuit or Benedictine. Franciscan cloaks are brown.

    • darrelle
      Posted October 15, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      When it comes to break up songs I’m partial to Motown. Kiss & Say Goodbye by the Manhattans can still inspire nearly unbearable nostalgia in me to this day.

  14. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    The Halloween sign inspired me to look up on Wikipedia “Geography of Halloween”

    “While not traditionally a part of Australian culture, non-religious celebrations of Halloween modeled on North American festivities are growing increasingly popular in Australia,[17] in spite of seasonal differences and the transition from spring to summer. Criticism stems largely from the fact that Halloween has little relevance to Australian culture.[18][19] It is also considered, by some Australians, to be an unwanted American influence; as although Halloween does have Celtic/European origins, its increasing popularity in Australia is largely as a result of American pop-culture influence.[19][20] Supporters of the event claim that the critics fail to see that the event is not entirely American, but rather Celtic and is no different to embracing other cultural traditions such as Saint Patrick’s Day.[21]

    Due to the opposition to Halloween by some people, there is a growing movement where people are inviting trick-or-treaters to take part by putting a balloon or decoration on their letter box, to indicate that they are welcome to come knocking. In the past decade, the popularity of Halloween in Australia has grown.[22]”

  15. danfromm
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Y’know, Balkan countries’ traditional foods are all traditional Turkish food with slighty different spicing. The countries that were part, for a time, of the Austro-Hungarian empire also have foods from it. Goulash, for example.

  16. Posted October 14, 2018 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    I read online that the Zagreb tram is the second shortest in the world. I didn’t find the shortest, but found this one of the same size:

    Which reminded me of a very short trip I took in the early 60s on Angels Flight to Grand Central Market in Los Angeles, CA:

    Portland, OR has an aerial tram, worth riding:

  17. BJ
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    I’m so, so, SO jealous right now. I’ve always wanted to visit this region with Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Hungary, Austria. I’m also dying to see the Baltic region, which I hear has remarkable natural beauty.

    • yazikus
      Posted October 14, 2018 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      Me too, BJ. Was lucky enough to live a few years on the Baltic Sea and it was so lovely.

      • BJ
        Posted October 15, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        Lucky! How did you end up there? Or are you originally from that region? I always assumed you’re from North America from your way of writing.

        • yazikus
          Posted October 15, 2018 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

          Long story short, I moved around a lot growing up due to my parents’ work and spent the majority of my minor years outside of the US. I was in Finland for three great years and loved it. I’ve been settled out here in the PNW for the last fifteen years or so. It is the closest thing (in the lower 48) that I’ve found to a sort of Nordic environment.

          I’ve worked most of the errant ou’s and re’s out of my writing =)

  18. Posted October 14, 2018 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    The name of the country is actually Hrvatska. Like most Slavic languages (except Macedonian and Bulgarian), all words (including proper names) have their ending changed to indicate relationship to other words in the sentence (replacing or complementing prepositions). The word “Hrvatske” actually means “of Croatia”.
    So the expression “Vlada Republike Hrvatske” means “Government of the Republic of Croatia”.

  19. Posted October 14, 2018 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Since it’s in the same direction down the street as the Museum of Broken Relationships, maybe you could also check out the museum of “Naive Art”– I’d love to know what that is.

    • Mark R.
      Posted October 14, 2018 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

      I read that as “Native” the first time through. Maybe it is a typo, or perhaps amateur or children art…lovely finger paintings perhaps? I agree though, I wanna know.

    • Zoran
      Posted October 15, 2018 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      It actualy means art from artists who do not have a formal artistic education (college degree etc).

  20. Mike
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    WHAT A JOY that you’re sharing your travels. I am so jealous.

    I had the joy of visiting the original Neandertal Museum at Neander Tal, east of Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1989, when it was just somebody’s house with a display. Now it is one of the most modern science museums in the world.

    The discovery was made in 1856 when a mining crew was digging for lime, so the cave and the cliff and the valley were completely flattened. However, the museum had a map showing where the Neander Valley used to be. So I drove over to the coordinates: It was now an automobile junkyard.

    Ironically, the Neander part of the valley’s name was given in honor of a Calvinist hymn writer. The name means “New Man.” So the remains which proved that an ancient kind of man once existed were dug from New Man Valley.

    • rickflick
      Posted October 14, 2018 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      Interesting. Now the Neander Valley is an automobile junkyard? Science marches on.

  21. John Ottaway
    Posted October 15, 2018 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    I love your trips and seeing how you totally immerse yourself into the local culture and especially food… oh the food

  22. darrelle
    Posted October 15, 2018 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Love these travel posts Jerry, though they do make me quite envious. Zagreb looks and sounds wonderful and I would love to travel the area. The closest I’ve gotten is Salzburg and Innsbruck.

  23. Anthony
    Posted October 15, 2018 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Fun fact: restaurant is called “Tavern Grandpa’s Dream”

  24. Irena
    Posted October 16, 2018 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    Nice text. Thanks. There is one mistake. Žižule fruit are not dates. That is quite other kind of fruit.
    You had to eat it. I like them very much – they taste more like sauer apple and have nothing common with fates.

    • Irena
      Posted October 16, 2018 at 12:34 am | Permalink

      Sorry, last word is dates (not fates).

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