we arrived in Zagreb early evening, the rain pelting the windshield of our taxi as we meandered through country roads towards the city.
on the outskirts of town, long before we could see the red tiled rooftops of the old city, remnants of communism began to emerge. old factories and public housing coupled together with new sleek office buildings. the result a hot display of freshly washed worn sneakers.
the hotel, built for patrons of the orient express, is truly a historical gem in this growing economy. completed in 1912, the popular meeting place was a celebrated monument to the culture of Croatia, a gateway to Europe from the Middle East.
occupied by Nazis during WWII, and surviving the Yugoslavic occupation thereafter, the Esplanade has stood as a Zagreb icon over time.
not a bad view from the honeymoon suite, either.
the walk to old town isn’t long, but steep on cobblestone streets. a windy path through closed merchant shops and youth filled pubs led us to Ban Jelacic Square, the night light intensifying our senses.
up the wooden steps to the by now empty open air market, through small alleyways towards the towering cathedral steeples, then just a few steps north, and we found ourselves at the oldest wine bar in Zagreb, Bornstein’s Vinoteka.
the sommelier worked his magic and ordered a wine tasting for two, three reds, three whites. inhabited by the Romans and the Italians, Croatia is one of the oldest wine making countries in the world.
my favorites so far are the whites: crispy, acidic, with high minerality. refreshing after a long stroll up the hill.
after 18 hours of travel and 6 glasses of wine (okay 8!) we tuckered out for a good nights sleep. two more days to explore Zagreb, eat all the things, and spend some moments together.