Thursday, June 2, 2011

In Zagreb

Today we walked thru Zagreb...and believe it or not, I liked the city. We had an excellent guided tour of the two parts of the old city. We saw what is left of the old city walls and gates, tons of statues and lots of squares and of course the required churches. But there were 2 highlights.

The Pope is coming to Zagreb on Saturday and we saw a city "ramping up" security for the event. The main Cathedral is shiny! The manhole covers have been welded shut. The speed bumps on city streets have been removed on the route the Pope will take so he will have a smooth ride. Lots of security cameras are being installed. TV news trucks with satellite uplinks are already staking out territory near the main venue. There are helicopters circling the area watching, watching, watching. Our hotel is along the route and we have received a message saying NOT to open our drapes or be tempted to sneak a peek out the windows. It's most interesting to see a city go into high security mode.

The other highlight was the Museum of Naive Art. Naive Art is also called 
Primitive Art...think Grandma Moses. This is not a "high brow" type of art so it is very accessible.  The collection is wonderful and inspiring. If you get to Zagreb, it's something you will want to see.

Yesterday we visited one of Croatia's national parks called Plitvice Lakes which is inland between Split and Zagreb. What a beautiful place. The Park highlights 16 turquoise lakes that are connected by a series of waterfalls and cascades. There is a four mile trail of switchbacks and steps and bridges and boats that give you a firsthand look of the clear lakes as well as the flora and fauna. I walked the trail which ends with 300 stairs bringing you up from the canyon. I'm feeling each of those 300 steps today...but it was worth it. To add to the drama of the setting, a thunderstorm came in about a mile and 300 steps from the end of the trail. I put on my waterproof jacket, pulled up the hood and continued to move forward. By the time I got to the lodge, I was soaked! My shoes are still wet a day later! 
In Split we saw Diocletian's Palace...what a place. We also stopped on the island of Hvar, which is known for it's aromatic wild lavender. It's been a busy few days. When we get home we will need to rest up from this vacation!

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