It ain’t a typical year but it’s the atypical things that we often remember most.
Author: Steve Tsentserensky
Normally, at this time of year, Zagreb is just absolutely teeming with people. Tourists the world over flocking to the capital to take in the sights, sounds, scents and tastes of the famed Christmas Market. And for a good reason, it’s been voted best in Europe multiple times in the last 5 years.
For obvious reasons though, this year is a tiny bit different and while the people may not be here, the city didn’t hold back on the pomp and circumstance of the season, creating some much needed magic amidst the madness.
Offering a bit of light in the darkness and a faint song in the silence
Lights glistening citywide in the crisp winter air from Zrinjevac Park to Ban Jelačić Square to Ilica and beyond. At the end of Strossmayer Promenade you’ll find a perfectly framed view, literally framed, of the Cathedral of Zagreb and Church of St. Mary and strolling about town you’ll come across well thought out, detailed scenes of nostalgia from bygone eras, lovingly built and placed in areas like Park Bele IV.
Sure, the ice-skating rink in Tomislav Square didn’t make an appearance this year and the street-party type vibe is missing with the stalls and stands where you would ordinarily find a seemingly endless variety of local treats to try nowhere to be found. But the classic roasted chestnuts abound and the kuhano vino aka mulled wine still flows at plenty of spots around the city to keep you warm on those walks. If that doesn’t do the trick, rakija is always available.
In spite of everything, there’s a joyous, celebratory spirit that permeates the air with Flower Square still attracting locals and the handful of tourists that are here alike for a laugh and a drink.
Describing anything in 2020 as wonderful sounds like a cruel joke, with those concepts, “wonderful” and “2020”, rarely if ever having met but despite the torment and tough times this year has wrought, there were, and still are, moments of good cheer to be found.
While this may not be the year any of us planned for, it’s the year we’ve got and making the most of it is all anyone can really do. In that respect, Zagreb delivered a beauty of a Christmas market and a jubilant festive season. A welcome relief and a gorgeous bit of peace in this stormy year.
Just like that picture perfect view of the cathedral, it’s all about framing.
Photo gallery below. Author: Steve Tsentserensky