Saturday, October 25, 2014

Grand Seafood Istrian Lunch at Da Piero Restaurant in Zagreb’s Dolac Market

To finish off my Croatia chronicles is my last meal in Zagreb. Lunch at new restaurant in town, the Da Piero Restaurant in the terrace of the Dolac Market. My flight back to the Netherlands leaves in the afternoon and what better to close the holiday with a grand lunch in the old centre.

Istrian cuisine in Zagreb: Grand seafood mix (grilled fish, squid, crayfish, and breaded fish fillet) on a bed of potatoes and spinach.

Well, to back track a bit. I really had no idea where to eat. I wanted to sit down in an open area, that is what I do know. In fact I thought about eating at the Tkalciceva Street, but unfortunately, most restaurant cafes there only offer drinks. I spotted a traditional restaurant but it does not have a terrace and I will have to go inside to eat. No bother then. So I decided to go to the Dolac area. The Dolac market is always an energetic place to visit. Perhaps I will get some ideas there and see some nice places.

Just a little below the Dolac market is an open terrace converted into a restaurant. This is where I discovered Da Piero Restaurant. I did a quick scan on the menu and liked what I saw so I made the decision. The wait staff asked me if I wanted to go inside to be seated. I told him I will sit outside.

The wait staff was a very talkative and bouncy man. He asked why I am in Croatia, so I told him the places I have been to in his country. He was ecstatic when he learned I have been to Rovinj and Pula. `We have restaurants there!!!´ `Did you eat there?´ I said no and that he does not have to worry because I am now eating at their Zagreb branch. He grinned, wide.

He further told me that Da Piero Restaurant originated in Rovinj, and Pula is their second branch, and Zagreb, they just recently opened. The restaurant specialises on Istrian and Italian cuisine.

When I ordered the grand mix seafood that I was sure not going to finish, the man said, `Good choice!´

Here are the rest of my pictures:

This is just below the Dolac Market at the Flower Market (see those red parasols, they are flower vendors) and if you go straight ahead you arrive at the Ben Jelacic Square.

The Dolac Market. I made a full entry here during my earlier visit: Vibrant Dolac Market Scenes in Zagreb, Croatia.

People were sitting mostly inside. It is March, still winter, thus.

This was a very delicious bread! I had to control myself not to eat a lot.

Such a big lunch meal for a petite woman, haha. I made sure not to eat the potatoes otherwise I will not survive the walk back to the garage and drive to the airport.

 The coffee hopefully helps with the meal digestion.

On top of the restaurant is the Dolac Market. Yes, the restaurant is literally below the market. Well, actually between because below the restaurant is the meat and fish section of the Dolac Market.

I can imagine that the restaurant's outdoor terrace would be a popular place during summer. My rating: 4.3 stars out of 5.

Travel Period: March 2014
Destination: Zagreb, Croatia

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Tkalčićeva Ulica: The Cafe Terrace Street of Zagreb, Croatia

A visit to Zagreb is not complete without strutting your limbs on the city’s famous street, Tkalčićeva Ulica or Tkalčićeva Street in Gornji Grad (Upper Town). It is very near to Ban Jelacic Square and this is the favourite hangout of the locals. Let’s call it the living room of the Zagrebians and the fashion runway of the city’s fashionistas.

Tkalčićeva Ulica or Tkalčićeva Street on a Saturday dry winter's day.

For my Croatia-Slovenia trip, I flew in to Zagreb, Croatia and will be flying out here as well. My route based on the places I have stayed is this: Zagreb (Croatia) – Rovinj (Croatia) – Ljubljana (Slovenia) – Zagreb (Croatia).

Now I have just finished this route (do check out my side bar for entries on Croatia and Slovenia) and back in Zagreb and will be flying out in the later part of the day. The drive from Ljubljana to Zagreb was a breeze. Border control went quick and there was not much traffic. It was a Saturday and the weather was dry and nice.

On the Croatian highway to Zagreb on a Saturday morning. I wanted to drop by in Samobor but did not have the time.

The route on Google Maps. Ljubljana, Slovenia to Zagreb, Croatia is less than 2 hours but make that 2 hours including immigration control and possible traffic. You can move the map by holding it with your mouse, as well as zoom it in and out by clicking on the + and - signs at the lower right hand.

All roads lead to the city centre.

The city has new and old trams.  These are the old ones.

My idea for my last day in Zagreb, Croatia and for the holiday was just to experience Tkalciceva on a nice weather day and have some lunch somewhere in the old centre. The last time I visited the street it was raining so I am curious what it is like on a busy and dry weekend. I managed to park at a garage in Kaptol area (Kaptol shopping centre) a few hundred metres further north from the famous street. Tkalčićeva is a pedestrianized lane and it is impossible to find parking nearby and the best bet is to go to this garage. Do take note though that this garage, and I gather for most of the indoor garages in the city, does not accept credit cards (this was winter 2014) so make sure you have some Croatian cash and coins with you.

Now the street did not disappoint! There is so much life; the locals seem to be having fun with their cup of coffees here. Café terraces everywhere! Hence the title of this post. The street exudes a very nice, welcoming and friendly ambiance. It is indeed the living room of Zagreb where everyone comes together to hang out. I would if I live here.

I also saw families with children on a day out, walking together on the street to the direction of the Dolac city market with their shopping trolley in tow. Women were sharply dressed as if knowing beforehand they will be followed by paparazzi that day. I noticed as well that Eastern European, which is similarly to Asian women, are more brand conscious than their western counterparts. You will for sure see lots of haute couture signature being worn on this street.

Definitely a lively street not to miss when in Zagreb.

Young families with fashion conscious moms walk their children down Tkalčićeva Ulica runway.

It is a loooooooooong street full of cafe terraces. The perfect place to people watch.

Yup, this chic young family is going to the Dolac market (see: shopping trolley).

When you are here, try the popular local spirit: Rakija. Just a shot will do and they come in different flavours.

Travel Period: March 2014
Destination: Zagreb, Croatia

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Staying at the Oldest Hotel in Zagreb, Croatia: Hotel Jagerhorn

When I was in Zagreb, Croatia last March I stayed at Hotel Jägerhorn, the oldest hotel of the capital city.

The hotel dates back to 1827 and used to carry the name of the Prince of Austria until the new owners renamed it to Jägerhorn, which is a German word meaning hunter's horn. Slovenia was once a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and German back then was widely spoken in Central and Eastern Europe. The hotel has only 18 rooms.

The location could not have been more central enough. It is situated on the busy shopping street, Ilica which borders Kaptol and Gornji Grad (this is the Upper Town which forms the old centre) and Donji Grad (the Lower Town and the less ancient part).

Additionally, the main square of Zagreb, the Ban Jelacic Square is just a block away. Because the hotel literally bordered the Upper Town from the Lower Town it is nicely couched at the foot of the Upper Town's hill. At the back of the hotel there is a footpath, and if you follow this uphill you will arrive at the the Tower of Lotrscak.

The hotel is also part of a boutique gallery which has an inner courtyard that acts as the passageway. In the middle of the courtyard-gallery is the cafe terrace of the hotel. This is a nice charming public area that exits to the backyard of the hotel going up to the pathway that climbs to the Upper Town. In the morning whilst having breakfast, I could see a few locals passing by. It is indeed a nice little backdoor short cut route, if you know the area very well of course.

There are two things that I did not like about this hotel though. Firstly, there is no lift, however, the bellboy helped me bring my suitcase up to my room. Secondly, I did not have a big window. I felt so penned in and engulfed by the 4 corners of the wall. Luckily I stayed mostly outside.

The positive elements such as good breakfast, very friendly personnel (who spoke superb English if I may add, ugh, the last thing you want is being lost in translation at the reception desk), cleanliness, the central location, free parking (2 blocks away, the code was emailed to me in advance) and historical being the oldest hotel in Zagreb, made the minus points really small.

A link to my Zagreb stories here: Zagreb, Croatia

This is the main shopping street, Ilica where the hotel is located. It is a pedestrian only as well as a tramway street that separates the Upper and Lower Towns. 

The cafe terrace of the hotel located in the courtyard of the boutique shopping gallery.

My room was quite nice but it only has 1 small window.

A sitting area on my floor. I did not get to take pictures of the rest of the public areas of hotel.

The view from the little window down to the boutique gallery passageway.

My breakfast.

These steps from the boutique shopping gallery which I would like to call it, the hotel's courtyard, leads to the back open terrace of the hotel, which is open during warm weather, and to the footpath going uphill to the Upper Town. This is a public area, thus in principle the hotel shares this pathway not only with the shopping boutiques, but with everyone.

The boutique gallery passageway is also the hotel's outdoor courtyard and cafe terrace.

I slept nicely here though and the TV was hanged on the wall.

Ilica street at night.

Travel Period: March 2014
Destination: Zagreb, Croatia

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Picturesque Predjama Castle in Postojna, Slovenia

There are 2 major attractions in Postojna, the Postojna Cave and the Predjama Castle.

The Postojna Castle built in with the rock cliff.

Luckily I did some research before hand and saw that I can actually get a combi ticket for a much better price. Go here for more information: Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle

The castle is 700 years old and nicely saddled and shadowed by the rock cliff and the River Lovka flowing under it. There is a cave under the castle and they also do cave tours here. I did not bother as I have just been to the Postojna Cave. The surroundings here though are very pretty and relaxing. The setting of the castle is quite mysterious because of the rock cliff and mountains, yet very welcoming because of the little green valley and the river.

The Dutchman always says that I have a castle fetish. Um, perhaps I do, haha! I cannot helpt it but admire beautiful strongholds like these, especially if they reek with age and history. I always tell myself to follow my heart, as long as my head is okay with it.

Here is the route from Postojna Cave to Predjama Castle. It is approximately 10.7 kilometres and takes 17 minutes drive.

You can move the map with your mouse by holding it, as well as you can zoom it in and out by clicking the + or - signs on the lower right hand.

The castle looked very impressive from the outside.

However inside the interior is bare with very little furnishings.

The view from the castle to the little valley and nearby village. There is a little river (Lovka River) running below the village and castle.

Inside the castle there are wooden bridges connecting the castle quarters to rooms, nooks and tunnels built in the rock cliff. 

A terrace on top of the castle.

Rooms of the castle were refurnished but barely, depicting life back then.

 I didn't bother to go inside the cave tunnel. It looks eerie up there.

The king's throne. Perhaps this is the Knight Erazem, the owner of the castle during the 15th century. He tricked his enemies who thought they have surrounded him by smuggling supplies from the village through the castle-cave tunnel.

The castle is more impressive outside really... than in the inside.

Travel Period: March 2014
Destination: Postojna (Inner Carniola), Slovenia

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