Thursday, July 3, 2014

Eurotour 2014: Zagreb

The day after Sarah arrived, we headed out in the morning for Croatia. We planned on hitchhiking, and so headed to the spot our hostel had looked up for us that was ideal for getting out of Budapest. After accidentally buying alcoholic pear cider (it was delicious), we split up and started to look for a ride. Sarah and I were picked up within five minutes, by an older man driving a minivan who was heading all the way to Zagreb. Score. He didn't speak very much English, but it was an enjoyable ride. He asked if he could stop off to visit a business associate, and so we headed off the freeway for a few miles to a little resort type beach place on Lake Balaton. There were so many cute naked Hungarian children digging in the sand, I wished for about 25 seconds that my kids were there. Then I remembered I was riding in a minivan with only one seat in the back and remembered that being there would have been impossible with my kids, so I added the site to my future to-do travel list when my kids are around. Our chauffeur bought us wine, ice cream cones, and a coffee; we tried to turn down all three, but he insisted and we eventually felt really rude and relinquished. His business friends were equally as hospitable, and after the quick 30 minutes he promised, we were on our way. We were both nervous that a "30-minute trip" to see friends might end up being hours but it really was a quick stop-off and we were in Zagreb before too long. He walked us right to our designated meeting spot and we sat down and prepared to wait for Dana.

Our driver: he was maybe an architect, who was working in Zagreb on something having to do with an oil pipeline, or he invented dog food...

Ice cream, more ice cream.

Zagreb was so beautiful, and so clean.

A picture of what this will look like when it's completed.

The pillar on the left is what happened during communism when the leaders were more concerned about everyone being fed and having work/free childcare/etc. and not about what the old religious buildings looked like.

I found free public WiFi (it's everywhere in Zagreb!) and we received a message from Dana that she was stuck in a gas station somewhere in Hungary, had a run-in with the Hungarian police that ended in a 30 euro fine, but was traveling with a new Finnish friend, Evelin. She told us she wouldn't be making it for a few hours, and we should go ahead and find a hostel for the night. We walked to a few before we found one that had room for four -- it was called the Swanky Mint Hostel, which is awesome.

Dana and Evelin's triumphant arrival to the meeting spot.

The Swanky Mint was by far the cleanest and fanciest hostel we stayed at... for a hefty $20 each.

Evelin and I spent several hours in the bar chatting while Dana and Sarah collapsed into bed. Evelin then disappeared, and we later found out, went to a party and stayed out all night. We were all worried like "omg, did she get kidnapped or something??" like naive American girls that we are. And she's all like, "dude, I'm European, we stay out all night sometimes, stop freaking out." We planned on leaving very early in the morning, but ended up missing the earlier bus and so didn't leave Zagreb until around 10 am.... next post... Plitvice, aka Heaven on Earth.

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