After just under two months of preparation, selling nearly everything we own, equipping our business to run while we are across the globe, and learning how to homeschool Taz (eek!) . . . the day had finally arrived for us to jump on the plane with just three suitcases and two carry-on for our six month trip!
Our travel consisted of flying from DFW to Frankfurt and then on to Zagreb. I have been to Germany a couple of times before so I was not too concerned about what we would encounter there.
We had made the decision to sign up for to great travel credit cards (Citi Prestige and Chase Sapphire) which allowed us to enter the Priority Lounges in airports across the globe. This was my first time into one of the lounges but I LOVE them. Free drinks, wifi, snacks, TV, comfortable chairs. . . it really makes the waiting go by quickly.
Aside from the 9.5 hours of being crammed like sardines, the flight to Frankfurt was uneventful.
We packed some snacks, toys, and tablets to keep the kids busy and made getting them to sleep around 7pm our focus (yes, I used Darmamine to help a bit with this).
Our layover in Frankfurt was only 1 hour but we didn’t have to go through customs and thanks to traveling with a 3 year old we were able to jump to the front of the lines.
Arriving in Zagreb
The flight to Zagreb was quick at just over an hour.
As you fly into Zagreb you begin to see the little villages dotting the landscape. White homes with red tile roofs.
Suddenly you are landing at the airport.
There are only about 4 terminals and each require you to exit the plane onto the tarmac and jump on a bus to the airport.
The 4 buses deposit all 200+ passengers (in no orderly fashion) at the same single sliding door. There is one customs officer checking passports and the passengers are spilling out onto the tarmac.
Again, we are lucky to have a three year old. An airport employee spots Kai and says “Follow me” . . .
We follow her to the very front of the line.
The customs officer is sitting behind a glass wall. Without looking up he reaches for our passports. Still, without looking up or speaking to us, he stamps all 4 and hands them back to me . . . that’s it! We’re in!
So How is Zagreb?
Several things that stick out quickly in Zagreb:
This is a country that is still recovering from war and communism just 20 years ago.
A lot of people smoke.
We are able to find our bus and grab our seats. The bus takes us downtown to the central bus station.
Assuming, wrongly, that it would be simple to follow street directions we don’t fully prepare or grab SIM cards for our phones before going downtown and looking for our apartment.
From the bus we have to jump on a tram.
Trams run within inches of the sidewalks. Multiple trams which appear to be from the 1980s clammer down the twisting labyrinth of streets in the city center.
I learn, fortunately for us, most people speak wonderful English, that we need to take Tram 2. I forgot to ask the cost or how we pay.
When Tram #2 arrives filled to the brim with passengers we clumsily force ourselves into the pack with . . . yep, our two kids, three suitcases, and two carry-on.
These trams are NOT built for luggage. There is no air conditioning. The aisles are maybe 12 inches wide. Oh, and I still don’t have tickets.
Once we squeeze all of our belongings onto the tram, I ask the girl standing next to me . . . “How do we buy tickets?”
She is a kind stranger who tells me you can buy from the tram operator. She tells me the cost and pays the operator for me.
We get off at the stop we think is lose to our apartment. Again, not realizing how “different” street markings are in Zagreb.
P.s. getting off the tram is about 400% harder than it was to get on.
It only takes about 5 seconds for us to realize we are screwed. I know we are close but have NO idea where to go.
So we saddle up the kids and start pushing all of our luggage down the sidewalks.
With cars and trams hurling by just a few inches from the sidewalk and not knowing the language or where to go . . . we are a bit stressed.
After several helpful locals offer to help we finally find our apartment.
The 1 bedroom apartment is located in an older building on a basement floor. The outside is decorated with graffiti. The inside is cozy and comfortable. Our host greets us and welcomes us to the area.
By this time we are completely exhausted and ready to sleep but have decided that we need to stay up a bit longer so we venture out into the streets.
The Zagreb Botanical Garden is right across the street so we stroll around the grounds and then grab a wonderful dinner of 2 kebabs, 2 enormous pieces of pizza, drinks, and two servings of french fries for a grand total of about $76 Kuna . . . or just about $9 USD.
We enjoy the vibe of the city. It is unique to other areas of Europe and clearly an evolving city.
I have noticed, like other parts of Europe . . . I am the only fat person!
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