I heard the museum staff speaking perfect English to the woman in front of me in line at the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb. However, I was too busy practicing ‘one, please’ in Croatian to hear what they were saying about entry. Apparently, my pronunciation was passable enough for the clerk to give me a long apology about why we couldn’t enter…in Croatian. Since I wasn’t too interested in seeing the museum, not to mention that I didn’t want to admit defeat in my Croatian skills, I let out a ‘Da, da’ in an appropriately grave tone and a ‘hvala’ as I walked away.
Zagreb is a city full of beautiful buildings and nice museums. I enjoyed seeing the art in the Gallery of the Old Masters and I’m glad I took a tour concerning the Croatian War of Independence (Wayudo Tours). My guide, Kristina, was (barely) born in Yugoslavian times yet was a masterful teacher of history. We were shown World War II era bomb shelter tunnels (now pedestrian pathways), taught about the first independent Croatian state and its atrocities prior to joining Yugoslavia, and then taken to a museum documenting the shelling of the city by the Yugoslavian Army in the 1990s as Croatia sought independence. It’s remarkable to think that this was a war zone 25 years ago.
Samobor, with its green hills reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest, was an idyllic place to spend an afternoon. If you walk to Samobor Castle, you can enjoy a huge ruin, miraculously free of graffiti, without the hassles of tickets, crowds, or safety barriers to keep you from plunging down a few meters from a wrong step. Aside from the trash cans and the well maintained adjacent walking path, it would be easy to think that the entire castle was forgotten.