We travelled over the mountains to Zagreb through many small alpine like villages which made for a very intersting and leisurely drive as there was little traffic on the secondary roads.
We wanted to try out the grill/restaurants one time so we stopped and had an early dinner on the way to Zagreb at a very popular place with lamb and pork roasting on a giant spit in front of the restaurant.
We ate the lamb which was delicious and very reasonably priced.  Like many cities if you stay away from the tourist areas the prices are quite good whereas in the tourist areas the quality decreased and the price increased.  It took us about 4hours to get to Zagreb as the sat.nav. lost her way and tried to take us into Slovenia but with some help from a couple of nice policemen and  men in several service stations and the use hand signals, English and German we found our way to Camping Plitvice about 12kms out of Zagreb which was the only camping place anywhere near the city.

A lot of the coffee shops/bar serve no food at all so you can go down the road and buy a pastry or sandwich and take it back to eat at the coffee shop.

We hardly slept all night as we found out later there was a techno.noise (couldn’t call it music!)festival at Plitvice Lakes just opposite us across the highway. It started about 6pm and went through till 9am the next morning. To actually enjoy this you would have to be high on drugs and or alcohol. It was real torture but we had no alternative. We made it our business to confirm the next morning that no more of it was going on the next night.
It was a grey day as we made our way to the bus a short distace from our camping area and then changed on to one of the many trams running around Zagreb. They have no underground system but the trams run every 15minutes so the city is well serviced. Zagreb is a beautifully laid out city divided into two halves. The upper old town which has many of the main sights of the city and then there is the lower town which also has beautiful architecture and historical buildings from their Austro-Hungarian era but there is also more graffiti and modern shops.  We did come across by accident a large statue of Nikola Tesla who in part we owe the use of mobile phones and the internet with his discoveries.  Zagreb has about 800,000 inhabitants but being a Sunday the city was fairly empty.

There was a local dress designer festival going on in the main square and also a troupe of singers in local costumes wending their way around the city streets with a lady handing out almond crescent biscuits which were very tasty. They were followed by a group of guards on foot and on horseback

who also made their way around the upper town. It was a Sunday and as in all of the churches we have visited they were all filled to overflowing with churchgoers not tourists.  There are also a large number of casinos and gaming houses everywhere.
The city has many parks and beautiful trees which were all very green with new leaves. All through Croatia we saw the most beautiful roses.  There are also large trees shedding their white flowers like puff balls which floated everywhere and left carpets of white on the ground.
Zagreb had the best free maps of the city and excellent small city guide books that we had ever come across. The guides showed two walks – one around the upper town and one of the lower town.
There were not many foreign tourists around but as soon as we ventured only a couple of streets away from the printed tourist route we found ourselves on our own. We have been extremely lucky everywhere we have been as far as not encountering many  bus loads of tourists who we have found to be spacially unaware.
That night we had a very big storm with thunder which shook the van and a lot of lightning and heavy rain but that gave way to a beautiful blue sky the next day.
We decided when we left the camping ground to drive up to Maksimir, high above Zagreb which was a vast park with many walkways and streams.
A place of interest in the guidebook was the old cemetery also above the city and we were not disappointed once we finally found our way there. Unfortunately the Sat.nav. did not recognise any of the streets I entered
and we did ask many people for directions, however, they were all Croatian with no English and although they tried to be very helpful and spoke to me in Croatian, I thanked them but was still none the wiser.
We nearly gave up hope but were very glad we didn’t as the the last people we asked happened to be French tourists who in pointed us in a general direction and we then came upon the place. It was the most beautiful cemetery we had ever seen with an enormous wall surrounding the whole site and magnificent buildings,arched walkways,amazing sculptures for some of the old tombs and tree lined avenues.
We saw a funeral taking place and the hearse was in the form of a large golf type buggy and all the flowers were in another buggy.

There was no shortage in Croatia of large supermarkets, bankomats and cafes.  Bottled water was very cheap with a 5 or 7litre bottle costing under $2 and some even had taps which made it easy to dispense the water.

There were many houses and large buildings all over Croatia in some of the cities and in the countryside which had been abandoned (either through the war or lack of maintenance) and it was a sad sight to see.

We drove through the city and on to the secondary road towards Slovenia which we next wanted to explore. we got to the border and before we crossed we bought our “vijnet” (a sticker which we attached to the windscreen for toll payments)  which is complusory if you travel on the toll roads.   We didn’t want to travel on these roads however if we made a mistake and happened on one, if we didn’t have the “vijnet” (15euros worth for a week) we would be fined 200euros.  We will definately get one to travel through Austria because the fine is up to 800 euros!

When we crossed over the border showing our EU passports the very friendly young female border guard wanted to have a look inside the
van so we obliged her.

The Croatian side of the border had a great little “travel free shop” where you could purchase the vijnets and everything you would find at an airport duty free shop.

We enjoyed our time in Croatia and our favourite places were Dubrovnik, the coastal towns on the Istrian peninsula, Rijeka and Zagreb and the
mountains between the towns.

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