Zagreb: The world’s shortest tram and the Museum of Broken Relationships

On my last free day in Zagreb, I went to the Museum of Broken Relationships, and was very glad I did. I combined that with a gratuitous but important ride on the Zagreb Funicular (Zagrebačka uspinjača). Reputedly the shortest public-transport funicular in the world, it’s only 66 meters long and takes 64 seconds to make a very short climb—a climb you could make by walking up the adjacent stairs in about two minutes. (It travels from the “lower town” to the “upper town”.) It was built in 1890 and was originally steam-powered but now runs on electricity. In 1969 it was renovated, taking four years to resume operation. Preserving the original appearance and much of the “constructional properties,” it’s now a national cultural monument.

I wanted to film the ride, so I bought a 5-kuna (80¢) ticket and rode it up. Here are some photos and a film of the ride.

The entrance (yes, that’s the top right above):

The ticket:

View from inside going up:

Side view (I love the old-fashioned shape). There’s only one rider; after all, you can walk down in a minute!

Top view: There’s a trip every 10 minutes, with one car going up and the other down. Here they pass each other:

And the video of the whole trip—just about a minute long:

Close to the upper “station” of the tram is one of the strangest and most affecting museums I’ve seen, The Museum of Broken Relationships. Opened in 2010 (there’s a knock-off copy in Los Angeles), it highlights objects involved with unsuccessful relationships, along with written statements from those involved about the meaning of those objects. The stories are almost all deeply moving, and not all of them are about amorous relationships. There are failed parent-child relationships, with parents dying, children being estranged, and so on. Wikipedia adds this:

In May 2011, the Museum of Broken Relationships received the Kenneth Hudson Award, given out by the European Museum Forum (EMF). The award goes to “a museum, person, project or group of people who have demonstrated the most unusual, daring and, perhaps, controversial achievement that challenges common perceptions of the role of museums in society”, rating the “importance of public quality and innovation as fundamental elements of a successful museum”. The EMF’s judging panel noted:

The Museum of Broken Relationships encourages discussion and reflection not only on the fragility of human relationships but also on the political, social, and cultural circumstances surrounding the stories being told. The museum respects the audience’s capacity for understanding wider historical, social issues inherent to different cultures and identities and provides a catharsis for donors on a more personal level.

Here’s the entrance. It’s not a large museum; you can see everything in about an hour even with careful reading, but I’m told that the Museum has a huge collection donated largely by heartbroken lovers, and it’s stored in a warehouse (they rotate some of the items):

Some explanation about the items, and an interior view. Note the asymmetrical sex ratio of donors (lower right):

I’m going to show just three items and their explanation today; I figured that I have enough photos to put up one object per day for at least ten days. I think they’re more poignant when displayed singly like that.

Object #1 and explanation (each one gives the duration of the relationship):

Object #2 and explanation:

Object #3 and explanation:

There’s a book, too, in which people leave their own tales:

“We will never break off!” I don’t think that’s a good prediction. . . .

 

More to come. . . .

 

60 Comments

  1. Mark R.
    Posted October 21, 2018 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    I can see how that museum could keep one enthralled for hours. I like the mixture of pathos and humor.

    And thanks for the virtual tram ride.

  2. Posted October 21, 2018 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Unusual and interesting, that “thing” that makes the world go round.
    “We will never break off”
    i wonder how the ended. Not good i suspect.

  3. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 21, 2018 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    That caterpillar ritual seems morbid.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 21, 2018 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      The axe has my imagination going ~ “used only for therapeutic purposes”

      I’m not in love with the concept of this museum – ‘breakups’ are banal in their expression & I don’t want to be a part of it. e.g. Phil Collins’ solo work [& his Swiss mega-millions] are the cloying, sick fruit of the tree of loss. I’ve wondered how often artistes have set ‘relationships’ alight – material for the next poem or album.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 21, 2018 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        You channeling Patrick Bateman, Michael?

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 21, 2018 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

          Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yM7Xe3HrT8

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

          Strange that you should notice that! An interesting, accidental intersection I think – unless my subconscious led me to it. In the American Psycho video: I am amused at Phil Collins using ‘gated reverb’ drum samples & that CR-78 drum machine snare drum effect [In The Air Tonight] – defining all that crap 80s music. Phil is proud of it of course though it led to the demise of the human drummer – not much mainstream good drumming today.

          I read the book [skipping through the second half quickly] & although I realise it’s a satire on consumerism, I was bored by the endless lists of fashion labels & the hellish, remote, yuppie 2D characters. That’s the purpose of the book – to paint that world, but no engagement for the dear reader. Great Gatsby covered the same ground [almost] better.

          • Merilee
            Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

            Do you know (of) the drummer Corky Laing of Mountain (Mississippi Queen) fame? Got to know him over a number of summers at a lake north of Toronto where we both took our kids. Very funny (in a good sense), talented guy. Haven’t seen him in 20+ years though I understand he had heroin issues.

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted October 21, 2018 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

              I have Mountain’s album Nantucket Sleighride – very good album & all four play very well & the tracks are SHORT in an era when meandering digressions were the thing. I don’t know Corky as such, but I like his restrained style – I imagine he’s not an ego monster from that fact. He liked a bit of cowbell which is a very good thing.

              Mighty Canada Bands: Rush, NY & Crazy Horse, Steppenwolf & The Band. – Then you go & spoil it all with Bachman-Turner Overdrive & that Alanis creature!

              • Merilee
                Posted October 21, 2018 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

                Corky’s originally from Montreal (his real name is Lawrence but in his little brother’s mouth it came out Corky) but think formed Mountain in NYC? Leslie West and someone else. He and his ex, Francine, had a place on Nantucket. Has lived in Toronto for quite a while. When my son was a teen he was thrilled to be given some of Corky’s signature sticks by the man himself. I’m sure there’s ego there, but it was not demonstrated among us normal(ish) folks by Lake Joseph.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted October 21, 2018 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

                I’ve always thought “Mississippi Queen” need more cowbell. 🙂

              • Merilee
                Posted October 21, 2018 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

                Meandering as in Pink Floyd?

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted October 21, 2018 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

              @Merilee That’s good meandering – the early Floyd setting controls for the heart of the sun type thing. The bad meandering is each band member in turn doing a solo. When you think about it, it’s such a weird indulgence in rock or blues going against the way those songs are constructed – to be simple & repetitive.

              I just listened to the Byrds’ 8 miles high, but a 1970 live version around 17 minutes long… pointless embroidery throughout.

              • Merilee
                Posted October 21, 2018 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

                Never had much patience for much Floyd or Moody Blues, especially since the guy in the flat next to me in Berkeley played MB endlessly and loudly. Love Byrds, but probably the shorter version. Maybe why I’m not a big Wagner fan: it goes on and On and ON.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

            David Foster Wallace — for my money, the best of that generation of American novelists — referred to the early works of Brett Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney and Tama Janowitz as “Neiman Marcus nihilism.” (A bit catty, sure, but a pretty funny line and accurate description.)

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

              Very good! Sounds right.

            • Merilee
              Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

              Haven’t read it all yet but I suspect I’m going to agree with Wallace.

      • Merilee
        Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        I order in what way is it an “ex” axe. Like an ex-parrot pining for the fjords?

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

          I wondered if it’s a Croatian grammar translation blip.

        • Merilee
          Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

          I meant “wonder”…

    • Posted November 2, 2018 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      I thought the same. I wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with a person willing to maim such a cute caterpillar.

  4. Merilee
    Posted October 21, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    There’s a tram kind of like that in Los Angeles.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 21, 2018 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Angels Flight. Also a novel of the same name Angels Flight: A Harry Bosch Novel by Michael Connelly.
      I love the Harry Bosch novels – the TV show Bosch is sacrilege.

      • Merilee
        Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

        Yup, Angel’s Flight! I love Harry Bosch, too. Read maybe 20 of Connelly’s Bosch and Haller novels. I don’t find the tv series a sacrilege, once I got used to the actors. I like J. Edgar and the lesbian lieutenant and Lance Reddick, even though they are not quite how I pictured them. The teenaged Maddie is terrific ( and not to forget Crate and Barrel).

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          OK – will give another go. I watched one episode on Netflix.

          • Merilee
            Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

            IT got much better for me. The guy who plays Bosch wasn’t at all like I expected, but he grew on me.

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

              The jazz collection was wrong – I preferred the selections in the books. And the real Harry [in the books] is far more cerebral & turned inwards – PTSD contained cynicism.

              • Merilee
                Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

                I’m a jazz fan but probably not as knowledgeable as you. Didn’t notice the discrepancy.

      • chewy
        Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        Angels Flight is usually out of order. Not sure now. But it reopened after a long closure back in March 2010. A few days before the official opening, Michael Connelly got it to run for Left Coast Crime convention folks, hosted by Michael (and paid for by him, I guess). The next time we were at the Omni Hotel (at the top of Angels flight), it was closed.

        • Merilee
          Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

          Cool that Connelly was there.

  5. BJ
    Posted October 21, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    I can’t imagine a museum that could possibly appeal to me less. It’s a fantastic idea, but I don’t think I could handle it!

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted October 21, 2018 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      I was in tears before the end of the first photo in this post. I expect I’d be a wreck at the real thing. It’s a great idea, but hits too close to home.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 21, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      Too bad, BJ, I hear they’re thinking of dedicating a new wing to your college years. 🙂

      • BJ
        Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        They’ll need a hell of a lot more funding!

        (Nah, I imagine my college years were pretty average. A few girlfriends. Nothing to write home about)

      • BJ
        Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        But you, with your silver tongue…who knows what you got up to…

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 21, 2018 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

          I was never all that smooth talking to women; best I could usually hope for was to make ’em laugh a little.

    • Richard
      Posted October 22, 2018 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      Whilst visiting the ‘old town’ in Tallin, Estonia, I was handed a flyer for a museum of medieval torture implements. I thimk that might possibly be less appealing.

  6. Michael Fisher
    Posted October 21, 2018 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Here’s Zagreb from a terrain perspective:
    zagreb
    Mountain to the north & river to the south with a jump in elevation along the East-West road where you see the word “Zagreb”.
    Thw funicular is roughly south of the “g” & it’s laid out south to north. It’s the safest transport system in the world – not one reported injury!
    Lower Town is south of that road [shops & markets]
    Upper Town is north of that road [at the time of the building of the funicular, I am guessing that the posh lived up high away from smelly markets & where there’s a breeze as it’s humid in Summer]
    It resembles Liverpool where if you’re walking downhill you’re heading river-wards & the rich live up the hill on the high ground where the cathedrals are [churches & cathedrals are always on high ground if ‘height’ exists]

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 21, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      A similar function, then, to the one at Bridgnorth:

      Length: 201 feet (61 m)
      Height: 111 feet (34 m)
      Maximum Steepness: 64%

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridgnorth_Cliff_Railway

      There may be a shorter one somewhere (somehow, that seems to me to be an odd distinction to claim)

      cr

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted October 21, 2018 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        Exactly! The Bridgenorth one is quainter somehow – the lettering on the sides for example. Bridgenorth is the preferred habitat of the lesser spotted Radio 6 Music DJ, rich rock musos & the pro footballer. 40 miles west of me. Here’s a nice video featuring the voice of a lady with a Black Country accent [Like Brummie, but ‘unflattened’]:

        • Merilee
          Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

          Complete with “tara”.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

            Where Scarlett would think about it tomorrow?

            • Merilee
              Posted October 21, 2018 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

              😂
              And Rhett wouldn’t give a damn that tara=tata.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted October 21, 2018 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

            Or “tara a bit” [see you later] is popular

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Your terrain map reminded me that, when I was a kid and would go visit my paternal grandparents, every so often they’d get in a bit of row. When they did, they’d switch to speaking Slovenian, so we grandkids wouldn’t know what they were saying. If my dad was around, he’d translate for me. Eventually, because my grandmother had come from a town a few kilometers away from my grandfather and a little further up the foothills of the Julian Alps, my grandpa would get around to calling her something in Slovenian that roughly translated to “hillbilly.”

      One time she went to the public library and looked it up and it turned out his hometown actually had a slightly higher elevation than hers. 🙂

      • Merilee
        Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

        I’m sure she let him know pronto😬

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        As bad as the Scottish & Sicilians for ‘splits’ & feuds I guess. Might it be the hilly environment? Are the Swiss like that I wonder?

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 21, 2018 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

          The Swiss? Known for their neutrality, aren’t they? 🙂

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted October 22, 2018 at 12:19 am | Permalink

            Considering that their country consists of three different foreign-speaking areas (plus Romansch) and is divided by the main chain of the Alps, it’s really rather remarkable that the Swiss Federation has held together so long.

            cr

            • Pierluigi Ballabeni
              Posted October 22, 2018 at 9:30 am | Permalink

              It works because the German speaking majority does not give a damn of what happens in the latin areas of the country, and viceversa. And because Swiss people would not like to live in a neighbouring country having the same language: by definition everything works badly in France, Italy, Austria or Germany: and if something is not good in Switzerland then, by definition, it must be even worse in the neighbouring countries (except for downhill skiing or football). So we stick together.

              • Pierluigi Ballabeni
                Posted October 22, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

                When I wrote “Swiss people” I meant “average Swiss people”. I am an outlier.

  7. grasshopper
    Posted October 21, 2018 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    From Leonard Cohen’s “The Ballad Of The Ancient Mare”, which is vibrant with visual allusions to old cowboy movies. Cohen’s broken relationships all seem to end so lightly.

    … he binds himself
    To the galloping mare
    And she binds herself
    To the rider there
    And there is no space
    But there’s left and right
    And there is no time
    But there’s day and night

    And he leans on her neck
    And he whispers low
    “whither thou goest
    I will go”
    And they turn as one
    And they head for the plain
    No need for the whip
    Ah, no need for the rein

    Now the clasp of this union
    Who fastens it tight?
    Who snaps it asunder
    The very next night
    Some say the rider
    Some say the mare
    Or that love’s like the smoke
    Beyond all repair

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 21, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Reputedly the shortest public-transport funicular in the world, it’s only 66 meters long and takes 64 seconds to make a very short climb …

    Count on the Croatians to take the fun out of funicular.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 21, 2018 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Ouch!

    • grasshopper
      Posted October 21, 2018 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      lol

  9. Christopher
    Posted October 21, 2018 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Weird and wonderful, both museum and funicular.
    Who is it that uses the funicular the most, I wonder? Tourists perhaps, and I imagine it would be quite beneficial to the elderly or those with knee or back issues. As for the museum, it makes me want to donate my handmade Groucho doll. It’s all I have left of a brief but lovely relationship that I still wish could have been more… she could have at least made me the rest of the Marx Bros. before she broke my heart!

  10. Merilee
    Posted October 21, 2018 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    À propos of kitties ( always on topic) a vet friend on Maui just sent me this wonderful Italian word:
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/sgattaiolare
    Notice the “gatta” in the middle.

  11. Posted October 22, 2018 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    Please note from the Roolz that I discourage people from taking over threads, i.e., posting more than 10-15% of the total comments on them. This is to encourage a diversity of opinions and try to keep a person or group of people from taking over a thread and having personal conversations on it.


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