I can describe the events of yesterday in one sentence: we sat on a train. Today, however, we woke up to sunshine and couldn’t wait to use our legs (sitting down for 7 hours really isn’t okay). After getting showered/dressed, we checked a map and decided to start our route off at the “Art Pavilion”, which we noticed was contained within a park, and set off in that general direction, eager to have a productive day. Unfortunately, sod’s law meant that the pavilion was closed, yet the building itself is a good a sight as any; dating back to 1896, it’s orange/yellow colour and dwarfing presence can hardly be missed. The surrounding park is also delightful, with rows of lavender, a large fountain, and sculptures scattered around, making it a great spot for a picnic or to relax in the heat.
We did a bit of research and realised “The Museum of Torture” wasn’t too far away, and made that our next port of call. There was a wonderful looking food festival en-route, and as we approached the museum we found ourselves in-between a farmer’s market, fish market, and flower market. The vibrancy of colour and wafts of roasting chestnuts meant that it was a joy to walk around for a few minutes, and if we were staying any longer in Croatia, we would have definitely sourced a few meals from the fresh bounty of the stalls.
The museum itself is tucked away, yet access is provided at both sides of the street. It was HRK 70 for both of us to enter (with student cards), and instantly provided a somewhat unforgettable experience. You are trapped inside a ‘cabinet of wonders’, which is essentially an uncomfortably dark room playing creepy sounds through speakers and unsettling the shit out of you; there are over 70 instruments of torture to look, feel, and reel back in terror at, and the interactive nature of it all really makes you consider what it must have been like to be at the receiving end. Some of them were so sadistic I couldn’t even believe they were thought of, yet alone used, such as the ‘pears of anguish’, which are inserted into a victim’s vagina or anus, and expanded with metal spikes…
After spending an hour or so perusing the dark minds of medieval torturers, we headed to the “Museum of Broken Relationships”. Now, this place is really unique, and I’ve never been anywhere quite like it, nor did I know what to expect. Essentially, for HRK 30, you enter a space wherein stories of heartbreak, romance, and possessions with deep personal meaning are shared from individuals to the world. Some of them are uplifting, some of them are devastatingly emotional, but they’re all weirdly interesting. I think it plays on people’s natural intrigue at the distress of others and the need to empathise, but whatever it is, it’s not boring. Also, don’t bring young kids here. Violence, sex, and drugs are vividly recalled in quite a few of the exhibits. The café is really good, too, and we enjoyed a drink whilst listening to an acoustic busker playing his guitar across the road.
The museum is up on the baroque beauty of Kulmer Palace, in Old Town Zagreb. This is the place you want to be to see the sights, and we were shocked just how nice it was; just next door is “St Mark’s Church”, a 13th century wonder with gothic features and a tiled roof proudly showing their coat of arms; down the road lies “Lotrscak Tower”, which is HRK 20 each for entry and enables you to see a complete 360 degree panorama of the city, and the opportunity to take some unbelievable photos. To get back to the centre of town, we walked down “Strossmartre”, a hill lined with kiosks and graffiti, and popped out two minutes away from the “Museum of Illusions”.
This is probably my favourite place that we’ve been to in regards to entertainment; for HRK 40, you have access to room upon room of mind boggling illusions that really hurt the brain; there’s rooms where you feel like you’re being dragged away due to the tilt of the floors and walls, pictures that change depending on your position, Einstein’s hollow face illusion, an infinity room (where mirrors go on forever, along with your reflection), and countless other puzzles and conundrums to make you feel like you’re in one big acid trip. It’s interactive, fun, and great for all ages, just don’t go here if you want to retain some notion of intellectual prowess (an 8 year old boy solved a puzzle that had me stuck for 20 minutes).
To finish, we strolled along to “Mimara” , an art museum housed in a giant 19th century gymnasium. It was HRK 30 each, and we only had half an hour before closing, so rushed through their three floors of delightful religious art, portraits, ceramics, weapons, sculptures, and other wares. We should have probably taken a bit longer to ensure we had enough time to see everything, but it was a really great collection nonetheless.
Tomorrow, we are up at 5AM to catch the first of 4 trains and a water taxi, ending up in Venice. I, for one, can’t wait, as Italy is one of my favourite locations on Earth, and I can finally get my girlfriend something for her birthday. Don’t let me forget.
If you have any suggestions for Venice, we’d love it if you let us know – you guys have given us advice leading to some of the best meals, experiences and views of our entire trip, so don’t stop helping us any time soon!