12 Days of Slovenia & Trieste (Part 2): Zagreb, Croatia for starters.


We didn’t plan on beginning our Thanksgiving getaway trip in Zagreb, Croatia. Originally the itinerary called for an Adria Airways flight into Ljubljana (Slovenia) and another out of Trieste (Italy). Then Adria, Slovenia’s flag carrier, abruptly collapsed in early October and the scramble was on to reformat.

Zagreb is the next closest available option, and in the end nothing changed apart from adding a night’s stay in Zagreb. Weather permitting there’ll be time in Croatia’s capital city for an evening meal, strolling in the center of the city, recovery sleep and breakfast prior to taking the train to Ljubljana.

Zagreb’s airport
is named after Franjo Tudjman (1922-1999), a central figure in the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Paradoxically, the Yugoslav wars, which started as a Belgrade-sponsored quest for Greater Serbia, have produced a Croatia shorn of its Serbian minority. But if, in the longer-term, Croatia develops into a relatively stable, tourism-based, prosperous democracy, even Zagreb liberals and democrats who despised Tudjman may come to see him as a necessary figure in the establishing of modern Croatia.

32 years ago I passed through Zagreb, spent an evening and remember very little apart from draining a few tasty draft beers at the train station. Back then, these beer were my taste of socialist Zagreb.

A Taste of Socialist Zagreb (In Your Pocket)

It’s natural for a first-time visitor to Zagreb to wonder “what was it like here under communism?” There are few visible traces of that time in the city, one reason being the gentler mode of socialism that Croatia, as part of Yugoslavia, experienced compared to its neighbours.

Whether in Zagreb or Moscow, Budapest or Prague, however tough the face of totalitarianism may have been, you’ll find people, young and old, who feel sad at the loss of some things from those days. For many, life was more secure and more innocent than it is today. Though some freedoms were curtailed and many consumer goods weren’t available, people had more time for each other and for fun.

We’ve put together this quick guide to ​Zagreb’s socialist past to give you a taste of what life was like under that doughty leader of the non-aligned world, Marshal Josip Broz Tito …