Winner in the "most overlooked" category

That is indeed what the New York Times has to say about the tourist potential of Zagreb. Shall we start with the backhanded compliments? Oh, we shall. Their travel writer Alex Crevar admires the "charms and chutzpah of an Old World city that is still coming to grips with modernity," and observes its "lack of tourism savoir-faire." But he does note that there is much good food and wine to be had, together with a pleasurable consumer and club scene. And he truthfully observes that "Zagreb was made for walking." Most importantly, he realizes that "there seem to be as many cafe-bars in Zagreb as people," which is good enough for me. But he misses my favorite restaurant, contact me personally if you want perfectly prepared high cuisine served to you while you sit on an Adolf Loos chair (for a pretty lipa, yes).

For a tepid summary of the promotion, have a gander at Večernjak.


Anonymous said...

Well... /central/ Zagreb is great for walking, sure. As is the castle area. Austro-Hungarian provincial capitals usually are very good that way. (See also: Timisoara, Ljubljana, Novi Sad, Cluj.)

But get outside that center, and the rest of it is kinda nasty. Blocks, and crumbling sidewalks with cars parked on them, and more blocks.

(Is there a Communist-designed city anywhere that provides a pleasant experience to the pedestrian? I can't think of a one.)

Doug M.

Eric Gordy said...

That's a heck of a challenge, Doug. How narrowly can we define "Communist-designed"? If it is broad enough to include places that were developed to accomodate tourism in the Communist period (though in most places this began earlier), then the towns of the Dalmatian coast aren't too bad. But usually this means an older center squeezed between the water and a highway.

Anonymous said...

Yah, the Dalmatian towns are about as good as it gets. Though even tourist resorts were usually pretty lame. The ones on Romania's Black Sea Coast range from so-so to horrible.

(If you ever visit? One of the world's great beaches is at Mamaia -- 10 km long, 200 meters white, perfectly flat and white. Lovely.

(The Romanian Communists filled the strip behind it with tower-block hotels and hideous villas. Then, just to drive the point home, they built Petromedia, the region's largest oil refinery, right at the north end of the beach. You can stroll along the sand to less than a kilometer or so away, there to contemplate the rusty pipes, cracking towers, flames and belching smoke.)

I hold no brief for the Austro-Hungarian empire -- the Hapsburgs left a great deal of mess
behind, not all of which has yet been cleaned up. But they really understood chamber music, pastries, and urban design.

Doug M.