As mentioned in my first post about Zagreb, my favorite coffee place in Zagreb, Cogito, is the place where I start my journey through my everyday life. Close to Cogito is the Britanski Square, which enjoys the reputation of the most Zagrebian of Zagreb squares. The older generations are appalled by what the place has become. But we younger people find some events, places and people that pique our interest. We will happily stroll around this square on a Sunday. From early morning antique dealers start converging here, or rather, those who are reselling the content of their cupboards for which we won't get the price we'd like. Because they are merciless. And they know they will find the right customer somewhere among the stalls.
Up the hill from Britanac is where the quiet zone begins, the zone of happiness and first kisses of high school kids. Rokov perivoj and its little park provide a backdrop of old houses in which I would like to take that cup of coffee I was writing about. The third one that day. I wouldn't be loath to knock on your door and say, I've just come over to see how you live so that I won't ever again have to regret passing by your house without ringing the bell. But I never do. I just enjoy looking.
You can climb down from Rokov perivoj on two sides, one of which will literally drop you into a street full of beautiful men and women, gorgeous shop windows and the stories behind them.
I don't feel like going there today. I'm more interested in how you will react when you see what is above Rokov perivoj. I suggest you to walk over to the Museum of Architecture. Or rather, its building. The courtyard hidden behind it. Don't go there on weekends because for some reason it's not open then. Surprise them during the week. They will be glad to see you.
From the museum there are several ways to reach the center, the tourist mecca of Gornji Grad. Mine is the way you will end up telling about to your friends. The other is easily forgettable. Nothing wrong with it. It's just that is doesn't have the same effect.
It will take you 10 minutes to get here and another 10 minutes to reach the center. The locals don't really go here. Not unless it's on their way.
But true Zagrebians know this street and this part of the city. Its name is Jabukovac and it makes you think of the Jabuka club, the Arts Academy, sculptures in the forest and nice houses. I am certain most of the people in Zagreb had at least once (or even regularly) ended up in the Jabuka club. The club that has been torn down, a cult club where the 70-year olds of today used party hard in their 20-ies, collecting stories they now talk about while playing chess on Britanac. What a club that was! I too went to Jabuka (who didn't!) on more than one occasion! It is unbelievable how well I remember every single thing.
On Jabukovac you will also experience the rebellious spirit of the Jabuka bunch when you stroll around the Arts Academy and see what new things the students threw out. Into the yard. Because they don't need them anymore. Perhaps you will want to take something with you? Or maybe simply touch those textures they have been playing around with.
The Academy is surrounded by a park that is home to some of the sculptures by these young talents. Climb up because everybody does. Nothing will happen.
And yes... By all means, lean against one of Academy's windows. And just peak in like a kid... Keep peaking and let yourself feel.
And after this story go get a dose of Zagreb from your brochures. Don't let me drag you along one place or another that will stick in your memory. I might shake loose too many emotions. Raise too many questions... And the next thing you know, you will be sending e-mails, writing in, asking for explanations.
Climb up to Gornji Grad to experience history, take a picture, take in the view of the city. Go shiver all over at noon when you hear the cannon from Grič. Go get a story too. Because we have some great stories from Gornji Grad. Especially those by our great writer Marija Jurić Zagorka who lets her characters inhabit precisely this part of town. Her works have not been translated into any language, a sad fact. But you can catch one of the shows in English and Croatian from The Secrets of Grič, a project that takes you through the back alleys of Gornji Grad. Zagorka herself will take you there. Mostly in summer. Walking alongside her, you will find yourself immersed in a world from the early 20th century.
My Zagreb is slightly different, but it is mine. And when we lose each other, he and I, we meet up on Gornji Grad or in Rokov perivoj and realize that we are still here, for each other.