“It seems like we are going in the wrong direction,” my wife laughed as we pulled into Zagreb on the motorway. Yes, everybody was going in the other direction, escaping the capital for Easter, we were one of the few continuing north.
Could I live in Zagreb? No, thank you. I’ve been through that stage of my life in a much (much) bigger city and it’s not one I’d like to repeat. Yes, it always refreshing to change the background, this time from the Adriatic to Sljeme.
And Zagreb’s version of Srđ was on our “must do” list mainly thanks to the new cable car. Where Dubrovnik leads, Zagreb follows.
Ok, it was Easter weekend so it’s difficult to get a picture of just how busy the cable car will be as most people were cracking eggs, slicing ham or smelling Tulips. It wasn’t busy. And it also wasn’t expensive. Will it ever be profitable? Probably not, thanks to the former Mayor and his questionable financial plans.
“We paid for this cable car three times over,” smiled a local as we entered the base station. It will however be a huge tourist attraction that will draw tourists to the metropole away from the Advent festivities.
“Do you think we’ll be able to take our dogs (we had three) on the cable car?” asked a family member. I don’t want to open up another pet friendly article, (probably better if we leave Anastazia in peace for a week) but clearly as our dogs entered the gondola, we have a lot to learn from the capital.
Yes, it has just opened, meaning the promotional price regime is still in force, but 30 Kuna for a 20-minutes cable car ride was pretty good value for money. So we got to the top, 1,030 metres above sea level, and now it was time to head down. Of course not before munching through an apple strudel. There’s something about mountain air that makes me hungry.
For Julie Andrews the hills might have been alive to the sound of music, but for me they are alive to the smell of apple strudel.
So instead of taking the easy option and jumping back into the next cable car we stretched our legs, swung backpacks on our backs and started the descent on foot. Even though I’d wouldn’t choose to live in the capital there are a few advantages, one being that you don’t have to go too far to get back to Mother Nature. And Zagreb’s green lung has plenty to offer.
Thankfully the green spaces are still relatively well protected, for the amount of new buildings springing up like mushrooms after the rain is incredible. Supply and demand. They wouldn’t be constructing them if they didn’t have people waiting in line to buy them. And whilst the cable car ticket might have been cheap, the same can’t be said for real estate prices.
Yes, of course it was predictable. Ten years ago you could sell an apartment in Dubrovnik and buy three centrally placed apartments in Zagreb and probably have enough left to buy an annual tram pass. But ten years ago Croatia wasn’t a member of the European Union, wasn’t actively attracting foreign investment and was more attractive as a coastline holiday destination than a “city break” one.
A lot has changed in a decade. Including the price of real estate. This hasn’t stopped new blocks springing up, a market clearly exists. So as we walked through the awakening nature of Sljeme, with all the shades of green you can imagine, we gazed down on the ever-expanding capital. “A quarter of the Croatia population lives down there,” I said to my wife as we pressed on the walk down. Easter has been and gone. The tourist season has opened. Zagreb was relatively peaceful over the holiday period.
Our family trip was hectic and fulfilling, and we waved goodbye to Ban Josip Jelacic and drove back towards our street carrying his name in Župa.
Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to