Hitch hiking

I was participating in a hitch hiking race, and after a long day and having made only a few hundred kilometres, my teammates and I were already a bit down. We step out of a car next to a gas station on the western part of the ring, only to be welcomed by about a dozen other participants…

Welcome to Zagreb! You won’t get out.

Apparently the guys were already stuck there for a while.

There’s actually an easy way out of that place! It took us just a moment. Go to the exit, but don’t go thumbing there. Instead, notice there’s a door in the fence. Get outside. Walk a few km south. You want to reach the other gas station, at the other side of the interchange.

You’re welcome.

The Public Transport

The tram network is modern, fast, crowded, and very expensive. Nobody buys the tickets. It’s a fact. The locals are real escape artists when it comes to encounters with the inspectors. Some popular tricks include:

  • Getting the driver to open the door for you while the tram is standing on the traffic lights;

  • Pretending to be a foreigner confused by the ticket validation machines (which, in fact, actually are slightly confusing at first);

  • Yelling, crying, arguing, or otherwise drama-ing your way out of the situation.

I don’t know of a single person that actually got fined and paid.

On a bicycle

Probably one of the most cyclist-unfriendly places in the world.

  • You can’t go 500m without running into a steep edge. You better get off the bike, or at least slow down to climb it. That’s on a typical bicycle path.

  • Many of the paths are barely visible lines, drawn with crappy and fading paint on the pedestrian sidewalk. Most are one-way, but some are two-way, which is rarely clearly marked and sometimes changes randomly on an intersection. The police’s top favourite occupation is to happily chase cyclists going the wrong way and fine them outrageous sums; this happens to no visible improvement in the cycling infrastructure.

  • Bikes apparently get stolen a lot. You should probably invest at least as much in your locking mechanism as you did in the rest of the bike; a U-lock is probably the best choice. Also run the lock through the frame, not just through the wheel.

That said, once you have that bike thing going, there’s a couple of wonderful places to visit.

The Parks

The river in Zagreb is a big disappointment, but the major parks all have some nice ponds. I’m not sure how swimmable they are though.

The Mountain

In the city where I was born, there is a lower and an upper part, the division in some spots being a real hill to climb. That’s very cool for a country that’s otherwise so flat, it’s name literally means a load of flat fields.

Croatia is relatively flat in the continental part, with the coast being much more mountainous. Zagreb is situated in these flatlands, however it has exactly one, fully-blown mountain up there.

The mountain isn’t even that big if you’d compare it to Tatry, but it still looks down majestically on the city. It’s like the sun or the moon, it’s a landmark that helps you orient yourself if you take one turn too many, and the view from the top is simply mind-blowing.