I feel like I’m always writing about Zagorje. I suppose you could call me Zagorje-obsessed, but who wouldn’t be in such a gorgeous region? And now I am finally home again! Yay! Since there is a holiday on Monday here in Croatia (it’s the country’s Independence Day) I decided it was the perfect time to return to my dear second home. With every mile the bus rolled towards Zagorje, my stress melted away until it was completely gone. So now I feel so light and free, and how fantastic it is! Amazing, how just physically entering this part of Croatia can give me a complete renewal of energy.
Though I have some papers to grade, I refused to bring anything with me this weekend. Some quality me time is starting right now and I’m taking as much advantage of it as I can. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to update my blog very much nor have I had much time to return to other things I enjoy like reading, but ah, this weekend I finally can! Woohoo!
The bus trip from Rovinj to Zagreb took about five hours but it felt more like two. It was fairly relaxing and I nodded off to sleep every so often. And at one of the stops, I hopped into Marché (a cafeteria-style eatery with freshly baked foods) and bought a gigantic chocolate chip cookie. Made the trip just that much better.
Just bitten chocolate chip cookie from Marché
So here I am sitting at my computer under two comforters and a fleece blanket that smells of strawberries and apples (no joke, it’s like aromatherapy, it’s great) and I couldn’t be happier. Perhaps I’m a bit too bundled up but wow, the night’s here have gotten so chilly! And speaking of nights, the sunset today was gorgeous! What a lovely sight to come home to.
This weekend I’m hoping to finally buy a winter coat. I’m definitely gonna need it. Rovinj is still quite warm during the day but nights there are getting nippy. Winter will come to Rovinj later than it will to Zagorje but since I will be in Zagorje for winter vacation I’m gonna need to be well prepped for the cold. Yet, if I can survive walking to class in a Michigan blizzard I can probably withstand anything a Croatian winter throws at me. Time will tell though.
Anyways, so since I have arrived, what have I done? Well, I’ll tell you. Had a long, much awaited catch-up conversation with one of my grandmothers, finally wrote down some of her Zagorski recipes so that I can make ‘em myself, spent some time with my good friend Maria and plotted out my trip to visit her in Germany, and of course, ate! There are so, so many things I love about Zagorje but the food, the food!
As we passed through Zlatar Bistrica on our way from Zagreb today, my aunt, uncle, cousin, and I stopped at a local eatery called Bistro Vertigo. I’ve passed by it a million times but have never eaten there and I am so going back! Like most other places in Zagorje (except for high-end establishments) the food was cheap and delicious. I ordered French fries as my side and they covered half my plate with them. Now that’s what I call a side-dish. None of that little plate whatnot you get in the States. And you know how much my meal cost in total? $6.00. Yup, $6.00 for a huge plate of food. Awesome.
Tonight, I’ve just been relaxing and reading up a bit on Zagorje history in a tourist booklet I recently picked up. I had no idea that Zagorje has been home to so many famous Croats from Matija Gubec (who was the leader of the country’s Peasants’ Revolt of 1573) to Franjo Tuđman (who was Croatia’s first official president after the country gained independence from Yugoslavia). What’s more, apparently Antun Mihanović, who wrote Croatia’s national anthem, created it after being inspired by picturesque Zagorje. How cool!
Statue of Matija Gubec in Gornja Stubica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What a lovely day Saturday has been! My grandmother (from my mother’s side) made a delicious lunch feast for me and my other grandmother with included Zagorje staples like “šeničnjača” (flour and butter bread) and bućnica (pumpkin-filled strudel). I was full for the rest of the day. Well, full until I smelled pizza baking at Zabok’s Pizzeria Gloria, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
My grandmother’s freshly baked “šeničnjača”
After lunch, some relatives stopped by for a visit that I haven’t seen since last year which was nice. Then later, my good friend Valentina and I along with her husband Dražen headed to West Gate, Croatia’s largest shopping mall that’s just outside Zagreb. It’s ginormous! Though I’m usually not a fan of big malls because it takes forever to find anything, I absolutely love West Gate because it has all the stores I like all in one place. And I finally got my winter coat! Ain’t it lovely?
My new winter coat!
I also bought myself an adorable winter hat and ten pairs of black socks. Somehow I only managed to bring about four pairs from the States for work which has not been nearly enough. I purchased all of this at C&A. I think it is one of my new favorite stores. They have a variety of styles at lower prices than at other stores.
After shopping, I was about ready to go to bed but as we inched closer and closer to home I was getting thirsty and a bit hungry. We stopped in Zabok at Pizzeria Gloria (check ‘em out on Facebook too) and I ate what in my opinion is the best pizza in Croatia. It had a perfect amount of sauce, great cheese, and a superb crust.
Our half-eaten pizza
As you can see, once the pizza arrived at the table, it had no chance of survival. Dražen tells me that the restaurant also has delicious pasta so trip #2 is already in the works in my head.
Today was supposed to be more on the chilly side, but thankfully the weatherman’s predictions were wrong. It feels like summer again. I have no big plans for today aside from relaxing and reading. Oh, and I suppose I’ll have to repack a bit for my trip back but that’s no biggie. This morning, my kind grandmother cooked me up some bean stew (grah čušpajz)to take along tomorrow and has also packed me some scrumptious bućnica.
My grandmother’s bućnica
Though I’ll be leaving the region behind tomorrow, I’ll at least get to enjoy its comforting cuisine for just a bit longer.
Overall, I’ve had an absolutely wonderful stay in Zagorje. It’s been great seeing family and old friends again and finally getting to relax. Too bad I have to say goodbye tomorrow. Truly, I could stay forever.