Summer 2020 is going down in TTL record books FOR SURE!! Over the years I get the question, “Wow you’re a flight attendant, have you been anywhere cool recently?!” For me, if my happiness or job satisfaction was based on “cool destinations” life would be pretty damn miserable. I’m a make the most out of a situation kind of person, meaning I’m out to have a good time NO MATTER where I go because the “cool factor” comes from within. With that said, every summer I look forward to visiting Italy and France. This year, the pandemic forced us to try something new and I found myself in Croatia for the first time.
A Little History and General Feels on Croatia
Leading up to this trip, the thought of arriving in a country I have never been to during a pandemic naturally had me anxious and excited at the same time. Croatia is a part of the Balkan Peninsula, along with countries like Bulgaria, Romania, Bosnia, and Montenegro to name a few. It is the gateway between north, south, east, and western Europe. Croatia only just gained their independence from formally called Yugoslavia in 1991. As a kid, I remember hearing about Croatia being at war, not fully understanding why or even where it was taking place. Fast forward to the present day, that “war zone” thought was still in my head. To my complete joy, Zagreb has soothed my nerves with the gorgeous streets and kind people…and honestly as someone that is not driven by food, the dining here has been AWESOME!!
Darlings, I have been thoroughly wooed by this city I knew nothing about. It is very like so many other cities I love like Florence and Nice. Each day on my ventures out I saw families walking dogs, young people on bikes, lovely parks every other block, older people out having coffee with friends, all very comforting. In the previous blog, Traveling to Croatia During the Covid Pandemic, I mentioned that I THANKFULLY had zero expectations, it has only served to heighten my pleasure as the city has welcomed me.
On that note, let me give you a breakdown of basics if you darlings are considering traveling to Zagreb in the non-quarantine future.
Language of Croatia
Croatian is the standard language but the great news is all shops and restaurants speak English. Restaurants also have dual language menus, such a relief!!
Currency in Croatia
1 USD = 6.36 KUNA
1 EURO = 7.53 KUNA
Can I just say how affordable Croatia is!! A dollar goes a long way here.
Q: Do they accept USD or EUROS?
A: No, the currency accepted are KUNA
Q: Do I need to take a large amount in KUNA?
A: For my 17 day stay I took 200 KUNA, which has been plenty. I used cash for the gelato shops and tips in my hotel. For example those big ass gelatos cones you saw me eating were 20 KUNA or approximately $3 USD. Otherwise I use a credit card for everything including taxis. Most places have the “Tap Card” feature. Restaurants have handheld CC devices so you literally tap your card to pay, never having to actually hand it off. Same in shops, the card readers are widely on the counter and you can simply tap to pay. No worries babes if you don’t have cards with the “Tap” feature, you can still chip insert and if that fails you can slide the card.
Q: Should I convert money before arriving in Croatia?
A: I say Yes, because you will save on exchange fees by requesting currency at your bank. Be sure to do it about 5-7 days before your departure date and your bank should be able to convert your currency.
My Hotel in Zagreb, Croatia
Westin, Zagreb (4 star hotel)
I know many people like to think of my job as “vacationing” but truthfully it’s work, not a personal vacation. I do not choose my accommodations, I mean could you imagine going on a vacation and having little to no say on where you are staying??!! The lead captain does loop me in where we are staying but, most times, I arrive at my hotel not knowing anything until I get out of the car in front of it, literally!! As a flight crew we stay at Marriott properties because they have locations EVERYWHERE on the planet and have better than average membership benefits.
Westin, Zagreb Accommodations
Originally we were going to stay at the Sheraton in the city center, but at the last minute they closed for the month of August so as luck would have it we ended up at the Westin also in the city center right next door to the Mimara Museum. I remember driving up thinking –Don’t judge a book by it’s cover T. It’s definitely not a looker on the outside. Dated and rather institutional looking.
The lobby and restaurant/bar areas have been recently remodeled which gave me hope, LOL.
The rooms are not as new as the lobby, but what they lack in decor was made up on the gracious staff, the super freakin’ comfy bed & pillows, the soft linens, and water pressure in the shower with tons of hot water. If you have traveled to Europe then hear me when I say those qualities I listed are MAJOR!! The cherry on top has to be the fully equipped gym, with a full studio, spin room, and beautiful pool. I was able to continue doing my virtual workouts with my trainer with the entire gym to myself, like nobody was there. After not having access to a gym these many quarantined months being able to comfortably & safely workout made a girl so damn HAPPY!!!
I will forever remember the amazing staff in the hotel restaurant!!
If you followed along on IG stories then you will know that the kitchen went out of their way to prepare me beautiful vegan brekkies. Each day I looked forward to the surprise meal to appear in front of me. Not to mention, our sweet server Paula stole my heart!! She truly wanted to make us happy, her charm and wit was so endearing. The truth is I ate in my hotel more than I ate out. Each experience, rather in-room or in the restaurant, was always delicious and beautifully prepared.
Dining in Zagreb, Croatia
Whatever preconceived ideas you have about Croatia I am here to testify to the food being BOMB!! Croatian food can range from pasta to seafood to fresh cheeses & breads to all types of meat dishes. Being near the Adriatic and near Slavic countries like Bulgaria and Romania but also near Italy the influence definitely shows up in the food. Every place was very welcoming and casual.
Yellow Submarine // Burgers + Fries + Salads // Bogovićeva ul. 7, 10000, Zagreb
- This restaurant can be found in several locations around the city center.
- Ingredients are organic and locally grown.
- Thoughtful vegetarian menu. You can easily make modifications to make one of their mouth watering veggie burgers vegan.
- THE FRIES!! Hand-cut freshly made in house, need I say more. If you want to level up the fry experience you have to try the truffle fries. NOT vegan by any means, but easily the most decadent truffle fries you will ever have in YOUR LIFE!!
Stella Bar // Traditional Croatian food + Pizza + Drinks // Trg Petra Preradovića 5, 10000, Zagreb
- All around spot that is open all day for food or drinks.
- The menu is on a touch screen device meaning, there are so many options they had to list them electronically!!
- Pasta, pizza, risotto, salads, seafood, and meat; each category will have you scrolling again and again. The guys really enjoyed the pasta bolognese while I had veggie risotto twice and one time the yummiest side of sauteed mushrooms (which had to be cooked in butter just sayin’ cause they were divine) and a Polpo salad (octopus).
Okrugljak // Mlinovi ul. 28, 10000, Zagreb
- If you are looking for traditional Croatian food with a cozy “ambiance”, open for 100 years, it has such a vibe!! Old world feels, huge outdoor dining area which was great since we tried to eat outside whenever possible, and fabulous local dishes.
Vallis Aurea // Traditional Croatian + Best Damn Burger (according to pilots) // Tomićeva ul. 4, 10000, Zagreb
- Finding this gem made us all happy!! I enjoyed grilled sea bass and grilled veggies which were possibly the best grilled veggies I will ever have!
- Pizzeria Lira // Pizza & Pasta // Ul. Nikole Tesle 5, 10000, Zagreb
- Over a dozen pizzas to choose from, there’s something for everyone. I had a pizza with garlic, basil, olive oil pizza, and held the cheese…it was BOMB! The sauce was tangy like I like it and the dough was worth eating the crust, so yeah I thoroughly enjoyed eating here.
Carpaccio Traditional Croatian Food // Ul. Nikole Tesle 14, 10000, Zagreb
- Lovely dining, very “Me” vibes.
- Enjoyed an early dinner on the outdoor patio
- So nice to find yummy restaurants open for dinner early.
- Lounge Millenium // Bogovićeva ul. 7, 10000, Zagreb
- Faves…all the non-dairy one including apple, lemon, strawberry, mango, and mixed berries. Tastes like eating the pure fruits, sublime!!
- Vis a vis by Vincek // Tomićeva ul. 2, 10000, Zagreb
- Faves: Carrot, ginger, cinnamon & Apple cinnamon. Mind blowing original flavors. One of a kind treat.
Transportation in Zagreb, Croatia
Our hotel was near everything, so we walked everywhere. Which was awesome because with how much I ate walking kinda eased my guilt. A short 10-15 minute walk put me in the town square area. Very metropolitan, like Milan or Santa Monica, EXCEPT clean!!
Sightseeing in Zagreb, Croatia
When I’m new to a city I tend to ease my way into exploring simply because I’m cautious. If possible I like to walk and take my time to enjoy the everyday city life. I don’t always seek out the quote-on-quote attractions. For me, I much rather enjoy people watching and observing how the locals live in their city. My time in Zagreb was no different. Having to juggle flight attending, being gone for a month, and my business meant that I had to bring along work projects and find time to explore.
Many of you have asked what has been my experience in Croatia as a black woman. I can only say that the locals have been a pleasure to mingle with; gracious, welcoming, and witty. If anyone was harboring ill will towards me they did not exhibit it. On the contrary, I felt only warmth and kindness from my hotel staff to the various cafes and restaurants I went to.
I especially enjoyed the area called “old town.” I could see myself living there. The streets are immaculate, the buildings are painted in muted pastels, you can hear the clock bell from St. Mark’s Church. I mean the entire area is like an idyllic movie set or something!! Truly peaceful. I sat in a cafe having the most yummy cherry blossom spritzer thinking to myself, I want to move in. The feeling is something that can not be replicated back home; the feeling of being content yet surrounded by history. For me, this can only be found when I travel in Europe. Moments that I cherish, willing time to slow down so I can stretch the serenity.
Sights to See in Zagreb During Non-quarantine (a lot of these places were closed)
- Zagreb Cathedral
- St. Mark’s Church
- Fresh Farmers Market
- Mimara Museum
Rijeka is the Nearest Coastal City; about 2 hours away driving
- Busy port city; great place to visit and then take a bus or boat to another coastal town.
We were hoping to rent a car to drive to the coastal cities but we ran out of time. Maybe next time! All in all, I had a lovely time in Croatia. Next stop I’m headed to one of my favorite cities…Roma! Be sure to watch my IG stories to follow along all the behind the scenes fun.