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20.11.2017
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REPLY TO GERMAN JOURNALIST Who Found Zagreb Boring

Foto: CroExpress

Haeming criticised Zagreb quite a lot.

Foto: CroExpress

Author: Zoran Stupar

Translated into English: Ina Vukic

Before you arrive in a city you’re visiting for the first time – whether it is London, Lisbon, Zagreb or Krapina – the first thing you do is to inform yourself about what to see in that city. Every city has its own attractions of which it is proud and which are interesting to a large number of people.

After you visit the attractions that interest you, you look for the places you want to see out of your personal preferences. Some football fans may go to the Arsenal or Chelsea stadium, lovers of sweets will visit the Lisbon Belem and consume some of the legendary pastel de nata, beer lovers will go to some of the many innovative Zagreb pubs that carry craft beer.

No matter how many cities you visit in your life, if you are a curious person (and if your visit there is of your own choosing), there is one thing that is common to all – it will not and it cannot be boring. Some will thrill you more, some less. In some your hands (and feet) will be full of 10-day work, in some 3 days. But not a single one will be boring for you.

The problem arises when a person does not enjoy discovering a new city, but someone (probably) forces him/her to. And then he/she writes an article about it; in one of the most read European media outlets to boot, the German Der Spiegel. That is what the Berlin journalist Anne Haeming, who described the capital city of Croatia, Zagreb, as a candidate for the title of the most boring city, did. 



The commentators to her article, who were rather flabbergasted by her one-sided description of the city, offered the best replies to it, as it seemed she wrote the article in a state of depression in which everything appears gray (except the red sunbrellas at the Dolac city markets). Many commentators describe Zagreb as a lively and beautiful city, which has during past years blossomed in the tourism sense. Even if they are wrong, that Zagreb is not really anything special in tourism sense, it is impossible for a person not find a corner for himself/herself.

Does Ms Haeming like to drink a beer or coffee? Zagreb offers a vast choice of creative pubs and cafés that has grown so much in the past years that the culture of drinking coffee and beer in good company has become a social habit (at times attacked because of it) elevated to a higher level. If she was not in good company, there is no problem in befriending the happy visitors to Zagreb’s pubs, especially during the weekend evenings when one or more extra may get consumed. Tkalciceva Street may seem 'overused' for people living in Zagreb but for tourists it is attractive and interesting. 

  


Does Ms Haeming like outdoors? She went on an excursion to Medvednica all the way to Villa Rebar, the former villa of Ante Pavelic (more or less in an uninteresting ruinous state), and not to mention that she visited the very Sljeme, from which sprawls a beautiful view towards Zagorje, and where one can eat some fantastic bean soup. The marvelous Medvedgrad is in the vicinity, raised above the city, frequent motive for Zagreb’s photographers. A walk along Medvednica is a true enjoyment, whether you are a mountaineer or just an ordinary walker. If she really wanted to look at ruinous buildings on Medvednica a much better choice would have been the nearby Brestovac. 

 


The Berlin woman visited Hrelic, the huge Zagreb flea market, where she only saw things that made her feel shame because to someone these things appeared interesting to sell. If it’s not at least a bit funny to you when you see someone selling only a left shoe or when in the scorching summer month someone tries to sell you a pudding whose use by date expired a year ago, then definitely the problem is with you. If at Hrelic you don’t see a heap of picturesque faces, if you don’t hear a person singing 'Sanader is building a new house and I am dying of hunger', then you don’t see or hear well. If in that heap of things you don’t find at least one that you like, then you are in the wrong place – perhaps a visit to a designer clothes shop would be a better choice.

If you visit Bundek and the only thing you see is an artificial low water level lake showing layers of gravel at the edges, and you don’t see heaps of people barbequing and having a wonderful time, how they cycle and roller skate, how they soak in the last rays of the sun before a long winter while sipping coffee, you don’t hear the screams of playful children, then it’s difficult to say that you are a talented travel writer. Because enjoying some city also implies a degree of interaction with its population even if that may be only observing people.

What else have we not mentioned? Well, quite a lot – Maksimir, Sunday change of the honorary guard of the Cravat Regiment at St Mark’s Square, which gives you goose pimples from excitement, excellent food...

Haeming criticised Zagreb quite a lot. Every one of us has their own perspective and it’s clear that not everyone will like Zagreb nor will they consider it as the most desirable destination for tourist sightseeing. But if in such a big city you cannot find something you like, something beautiful, something entertaining, and if after your departure from it you are so frustrated that you call it the most boring city, then the city itself is not boring – you are the one that’s boring.

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