Wednesday, September 9, 2009

36 Hours in Zagreb, Croatia. A Travel Guide

36 Hours in Zagreb, Croatia (not affiliated with the NY Times article that pissed me off with the same title)

Last week, when the editors at George Magazine came to me with this assignment, I jumped on it. What the heck, I mean Zagreb is 873rd on my list of cities I sort of want to visit.

Friday 3 P.M.

When I travel to a weird, former Soviet satellite place, I like to get my feet firmly on the ground by acquainting myself with the local history. I told the Croat cabbie to take me to the famous Nazi and he punched me in the face. Croat is one of those words that's incredibly fun to say but when you typ it out it looks like its got to be missing some letters. "Croat." Cool sounding but a little touchy with a quick right hand. I finally found a Serb cabbie that took me on a tour of Upper Town and left me off at the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Rocks. Try getting that on the front of a CYO basketball jersey!

The cathedral houses the well preserved remains of Blessed Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac. You remember him. The Nazi sympathizer with a soft spot for Jews but an extremely hard spot for the Eastern Orthodox and Serbs. I believe he's the Patron Saint of Closemindedness and Hatred which makes him pretty damn popular. The nausea you get from seeing him in his elaborate tomb will make any dinner unpalatable so it's time to start drinking.

Friday 8 P.M.

At Cafe Jazz order a Fuzzy Liverwurst (157 kunas). It's a mix of Croatian vodka and a delightful local liqueur called Kümmel that can only be described as sweet, liquid caraway. The drink comes garnished with a dill pickle and a slice of liverwurst. Place those in your ears because Croatian Jazz makes Bulgarian Jazz seem as good as Estonian Jazz.

Saturday 2 P.M.

Get your Kümmel induced hangover to Jelacic Square for some coffee and the saturday morning ritual called "SpiXXXa." Watch the intricate dance of the French, Russian and Californian porn producers as they recruit the leggy, high-heeled blondes inhabiting every patio chair in the piazza. Purchase a vente cafe americano with an extra shot at Starbücks (43 kunas), sit your fat ass down and enjoy the spectacle.

Saturday 4 P.M.

For a late lunch, eschew the overpriced restaurants and walk to Zagreb's best open air market, Dolac. Under the red umbrellas, choose from the amazing spread of seasonal nuts, cheeses, fruits and vegetables. Below is a local Croatian fruitmonger with a slice of a local delicacy called watermelon. Try it. You didn't pay $5,000 and travel halfway across the world to eat at McDonalds, did you?

Saturday 8 P.M.

With the exotic taste of watermelon still on your lips, visit Luigi's, a Dalamation-style tavern, and order the frog and eel stew (84 kunas). If you ask the waiter nicely, he will flip the floating frogs over because sometimes their beady little eyes looking up at you can be down right unappetizing.

Saturday 11 P.M.

Go clubbing in Jaregrub within the warren of hotspots found in the shadow of that scary neo-gigantic cathedral. To get up the courage to hit on those extremely attractive blondes that were too smart to fall for those porn producers practiced lines, try a Tesla Coil (212 kunas), an alternating set of 3 dozen liquor shots served in actual vacuum tubes designed by Nikola Tesla.

Saturday 12:15 P.M.

Pass out.

Sunday 10 A.M.

At Runa's, a Weimaraner-style cafe, order the traditional snail and snot omelet with a side of smoky pickled slugs (40 kunas) or you could eat toast and jam (57 kunas).

Sunday 1 P.M.

Purge last night's demons with a modest walk through the Croatian Museum of Naive Art (adult, 20 kunas; children, 10 kunas). Marvel that all those plump hard-working women with those bodies so well evolved to dig potatoes with a stick have produced all those leggy, high-heeled blondes. Before catching your plane, grab lunch at one of the many pushcarts found outside the museum. Get a Coca Cola and Stalin Burger (243 kunas). The juicy burger is 95% ground Serbian infant with 5% Albanian filler and was a personal favorite of the former Cardinal. Muy delicioso!

Note: File this under An Unfuckingbelievable Coincidence. I post this bit and I immediately go check my e-mail and British FHM has sent an article about the hot women of Croatia called, Croatians, Not All Completely Useless.

Also unbelievable, tho not the unfucking kind, the British FHM used to love UncleMelon and I had a semi-working arrangement with them. For some reason, my humor goes over well in England, Australia, Canada and Iceland. Croatia? Not so good.