June 08, 2015

Zagreb, Croatia

Tired from last night, I finally woke up at 09:00, showered, dressed, packed my bags, and was ready to go after 10:00 – this gave me about forty minutes to make it to the Sarajevo Railway Station and board the Zagreb-bound train. I set out of the hostel and walked west, finally coming to a tram stop after about ten minutes of walking. After waiting for a while, I was about to walk on and search for a dreaded taxicab, but the tram finally came and I boarded it. I was then supposed to get off at the stop next to the U.S. Embassy, but missed it and went on to the next stop past the university. I then quickly walked back to the U.S. Embassy and then headed north to the train station. I reached the train station at 10:42 and this left me one minute to catch the train. I hurried out to the correct platform, walked up the steps, and saw an official lady wave toward the conductor when she saw me coming up to the platform – they would wait for me. I was the last passenger to board the train, making it just after the final whistle call. I would be in Zagreb by tonight. I then found a seat in a cabin occupied by three Finnish students (two gals, one guy) and sat down. Unfortunately, it was very hot and this train had no air-conditioning, no fans (even Indian trains have fans!) [NOTE: the previous aside, though true in substance and connotation, may be offensive to Indians], and windows that would not stay down and automatically closed (hours later, the Finnish students used a belt to hold the window down, giving us fresh air in the cabin); this was probably one of the most miserable trains I have been on and I would have to endure these conditions for the next nine hours, but it could’ve been worse, I could’ve ended up taking a bus. For the next nine hours, I was sweating without food or water (surprisingly, there were no regular food/drink trolleys on this train and all I saw was a man walk by once with a basket full of some warm drinks and snacks – Bosnia seems to not be getting the whole Capitalist thing and I fear most residents are waiting for another Tito to nursemaid them – ZING!). After buying my ticket on the train and without much else to do, I tried to sleep as much as possible and was fairly successful for the first four hours or so. The train first travelled through some lovely Bosnian countryside with many hills and valleys; then, at 17:15, the train reached the Bosnian border checkpoint and a policeman came aboard to glance at all of our passports. Once he had moved through the entire train, we continued on to the Croatian checkpoint.

Croatian red wine made from Syrah grapes.
Croatian red wine made from Syrah grapes.

Once at the Croatian border checkpoint, a policeman came aboard and checked all of our passports – I was stamped in to Croatia again (right next to the previous and presumably still valid stamp). After he had gone through the entire train, we continued on through Croatia, leaving the border at 18:15. We then traveled for less than two hours to reach Zagreb, doing so at 19:50. Once at the railway station, I grabbed my bags and walked north through the old(er) city to reach the hostel I wished to stay at. Once at the hostel, I reserved a bed for four nights and I then spent the next twenty minutes checking in (this may have been the slowest check-in that I or any other human being ever had to endure – unfortunately, the receptionist was very long-winded and slow). Once checked-in, I put my bags in the room and went outside to grab food. By the time I made it out, it was after 21:00 and I figured that I needed to stop at the supermarket before eating anything; so, I went to a Billa Supermarket and bought some nuts and dried fruit, cheese, chocolate, juice, an energy drink, and a bottle of Croatian red wine. With my groceries in hand, I walked to a nearby McDonalds for fast and cheap food (McDonalds is like a street-walker of the restaurant industry – certainly not a high-end escort or Bordello-type of lady); for dinner I had a “Big-n-Tasty” burger, French fries, and a Sprite. I then returned to the hostel to go through some pictures and type out today’s journal entry. While typing away, I drank the bottle of Croatian red wine, which was made from Syrah grapes and tasted of raspberries, chocolate, coffee, cloves, and leather; it didn’t particularly entertain my taste buds and it had quite a few noticeable dregs floating around each time I poured the wine in to my glass. After finishing the wine and my work for the day, I went to sleep after 02:00.

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An open journal or an exercise in narcissism.