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August 9, 2002

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In Zagreb we walk down empty streets because the city dwellers are off sunning at the beach in July and August. Graffiti covers most buildings, even dignified ones with Baroque facades, and we watch our step to avoid dog crap that seems to be on every corner (the dogs don't need a tan so they stay in town). This dampens the charm, but we enjoy Zagreb for its quiet cafes, open squares, and a fortified hill top of the Upper town that offers a commanding view. By late afternoon the rains fall (as they have been doing all over Europe for the past week) and we use this as an excuse to travel onwards. We ride a train to Ljubljana. The train follows the bends and turns of the Sava river valley, passing between low mountains, lush farmland, and small towns clinging to the river bank. After three hours we reach Ljubljana (a no-hassle border crossing between Slovenia and Croatia). We will stay three or four days in Slovenia, then we'll return to Croatia for a week as we loop around the Balkan Peninsula (we left some gear back in Budapest that we'll pick up in a few weeks, including our second passport at the Russian embassy).
Zagreb, the world's only capital beginning with Z?
In the days of the barbarian invasions, the hill and walls of the Upper town served as Zagreb's protection. Now you can ride a trolley car to the top of the fortified hill.
St. Mark's cathedral, on the highest ground in Zagreb, shows Croatia's coat of arms on it's roof.
Walking Zagreb's colorful old quarter, one of the few local people left in town.
Rains flood most of Eastern Europe; every afternoon you can count on a free shower.