In bed at 9:00pm and up at 3:00am, so six hours in the depleted sleep bank wasn’t a lot but a whole lot better than nothing.
Today was a roaming day and we did it freestyle, despite having a mission to accomplish and places to go. We set off into the sunshine again, yes…sunshine! We stand out like obvious tourists though because we had bare legs and sandals and the locals are in coats and scarves. We did get the occasional sideways glance, but then that could have been for any number of reasons really! We were on a mission to find the Apple Store for a charger adaptor and then to the Information Centre, but as we were walking up the street I glanced to my right and saw what looked like a cobbled, pedestrianised area that looked interesting. “Let’s take a look up there,” I suggested and we turned off our intended course and began freestylin’. We found ourselves at the cathedral and the buildings and streets around there were lovely and very historic. It was also the first signs of Easter we’d seen with gardens growing chicken shaped topiary and painted egg “statues”.
There was an earthquake in Zagreb in 1880 that caused severe damage to the cathedral and stopped a lot of the clocks in Zagreb. The cathedral clock stopped at 7:03 on that day.
The cathedral has been undergoing extensive renovations for many years. After the earthquake, 150 stonemasons worked on its reconstruction, which finished in 1901. Over the years though, weather caused the cathedral’s columns to erode and neglect during the Communist era meant there was no maintenance done. The column on the left of the picture shows the current state of the columns, but a second big renovation began in 1990 and the damaged columns are gradually being replaced by new ones, carved to match the originals and the column on the right shows the new columns as they are being slowly replaced. It’s nice to see beautiful historic buildings like this being cared for and retuned to their original state after times of neglect.
We wandered down the street, turned a corner and found ourselves in the middle of a bustling, vibrant market. The produce on display was amazing and the prices were equally so. Red capsicum are about $10 kg at home and here they were 10 kuna, which is about $2 Australian. Cheap as! There were tables of nuts, figs, dates and all manner of fruits and vegetables. Then, down some stone steps and we were in the flower market with beautiful posies and bunches of tulips and such a variety of blooms. The voices of the sellers filled the air as they called, laughed and joked with shoppers or sang to attract customers. It was a spectacle indeed.
One of the important jobs today was to brush up on language. I’ll admit since being here, all two days of it I know, but still, being here is the most clueless and hopeless and first class dope I have ever felt about language. In France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and places like that we’ve been, we’ve managed OK because English has borrowed so much from those languages that we could kind of figure things out, but Croatian is so completely new that it’s really hard for my feeble brain to work it out a lot of the time. Still, I really want to nail some language because I hate appearing rude when I don’t at least offer some sort of response or greeting in the local language. I brushed up on my phrases and decided we should go to the Tourist Information Centre to find a helpful, neutral local who could test us out and put us straight with our phrasing. The young woman behind the counter was very kind and very helpful and more than willing to listen to my attempts at chipping away at the language barrier. I got some things right and she corrected some others and then she explained the formal and informal versions of certain words. Then her colleague printed a list of phrases for us and we gave a final practise for her assessment and we passed the test. I told her she was an absolute star, at which she beamed and I thanked her profusely for her help, “Hvala!” I said with gratitude and we set off into the world again, feeling just a teeny less apprehensive about conversing with some locals.
With the sun having a spectacular time of it, we found a spot in a cobbled square for our obligatory elevenses and people-watched and pigeon-watched as the winged terrors dived and swerved and all but clouted people on the head as they searched out whatever it was that tickled a pigeon’s fancy. I had to duck my head on more than one occasion because I was sure I was going to wear a pigeon in my ear, quite literally.
After a pitstop at the apartment for a cup of tea and regroup, we set off again for a 5km round trip to a bike shop to get locks and much needed spare inner tubes for Steve because we are expecting those pesky punctures to keep playing their game. The walk there took us through some more glorious parks and gardens with those beautiful tulips once again standing up and showing off like contestants in their own beauty pageant. The buildings were lovely and the flowers spectacular and above it all, that welcome sun kept right on glowing. We found the bike shop and used some of our newly rehearsed Croatian lingo on the fella behind the counter and walked out with our locks and tubes and mission accomplished.
We got some jobs done, but mostly it was a day of just turning this corner and that, going wherever we felt like it and making unintended but most welcome discoveries and seeing gems, simply because we roamed without a plan or put the plan aside to just see where we ended up. That’s what we like to do…just roam and discover and experience as much as we can.
Some more jobs to do tomorrow, as our last full day before we ride out on Friday, but we’ll wing it in the roaming department for some of it too and see what we can find. Freestylin’ is a good way to live occasionally I reckon…set aside the predictable…have a break from the routine…hit pause on the plans and just wing it and see what happens. For this little travelling Tasmanian who generally likes routines, plans and predictability, freestylin’ reminds me of the joys of winging it and going off course occasionally to make fabulous new discoveries. Mind you, once we hit the pedals again, you can bet that “off course” will mean just flat out getting lost, because that’s one of our superpowers. Ah well, adapt and overcome and keep eyes front because we’ll always find ourselves somewhere! Roam free my friends.
Distance cycled: 0 km
Distance roamed: 12 km
Croatian phrases thrown at the language barrier: 7
Pigeon near misses: 4