Zagreb’s not as pristine and expensive as Vienna is, what with all the graffiti and old, gorgeous, unkempt buildings, but it seems more down to earth. Walked into a bus station cafe: Full of nonchalant smoke. It was so romantic. Soon as I got there I could feel I would wanna stay a bit longer to have a chance to discover the city.
Took a little tour as soon as I dropped off my stuff. It was sooo warm —- 17 degrees! There’s a lot of people at Ban Jelacic square, but not a lot of tourists. At first I thought I needed tourists cause they’re the ones who are super keen to spend money and to get easily excited about stuff. But then I remembered "no, no. normal people like me too"
So I just walked around for a while, window shopping and such.
I was way more inspired to take pictures than anywhere else on this trip, for some reason. Maybe because I liked the colors. Too bad my camera decided to stop working later that evening. I still had my iPhone but it’s not as good for editing afterwards. It started drizzling a bit, but I didn’t mind because it was warm. After it got dark it started drizzling a lot, and then pouring. So I stayed in for the rest of the evening, edited some pictures and watched the OG version of « Sissi » in German and understood about 25%.
Next morning was sunny and warm and and gorgeous again. The merchants were setting up the market with the fruits and nuts and veggies and toys. It was so wholesome.
I captured a young man getting massaged amongst his produce, and he caught me, but he smiled and shook my hand and, well I thought he was asking me to buy him a coffee, so I said sure, what kind of coffee would you like? But then he led me to this alley-way with a small bench and table belonging to some cafe/ bar. He then put a cushion on the tiny bench, sat down and gestured for me to come sit next to him. I was like, umm this is weird, I don’t even know you, I’m not gonna sit on a tiny bench right next to you. But he insisted, pointing at the space on the bench, waving me over as if to say ‘come sit here!’ I was like no that’s too close. I’ll just sit on this perfectly good chair across from you. Finally he gave up, threw his hands in the air, shook my hand and walked away. I just stood there like ... What just happened? I guess he thought this was a date.
I got back to my room and I was really itchy, and I noticed I had all these mosquito bites down my right arm and leg, and on my neck, and left arm too. I was really itchy and confused because I didn’t hear one mosquito during the night. Dang that mosquito got me good! There were soooo many bites. Anyway I kind of ignored it, and around midday, I took my gear to the main square to play some music. It was so fun. Playing for a new crowd is so fun because you never know how they gonna react, and you know they never expected YOU that day. I did pretty well. Not Vienna well but for a town in the midst of the dead season it was good. A Zagreb security guard stopped me a few songs into my set and he explained to me how forbidden all was. He was nice though and he said I could play three more songs but then I had to go. So I gave three of my best songs since I only had three songs. I played « I can see clearly now », I played « kiss » and I don’t remember what else, but this older woman came right up to me, gave me a 20 kuna bill and started dancing and singing along with me! For like two whole songs. She was having the time of her life and it was amazing! After my three songs were up I thought... I Could follow the rules and stop now.. but people are really enjoying my music and I’m doing really well so I could just keep going, and see what happens. I ended up keeping going for another hour before a second security guard finally threw me out.
After that, I just went for a walk around to see if there were any other places I could play. I saw some nice old majestic buildings that look like palaces; wanted to go to The botanical gardens but it was closed (til April 1st), and it was getting gray and windy again. I saw a Canon shop and I showed them my camera. They told me where to go to have it repaired, so after I went to the popular ‘museum of Broken Relationships’, I took a tram to this Canon repair place. It’s like a 15-minute tram ride, but it feels like it’s out of town because Zagreb is so small that you can basically walk everywhere. Anyway, I was kind of afraid for the fate of my camera, and how much it would set me back to repair it. He just took a quick look and he said “I think it’s the connector thingy ma bla bla bla. If I’m right it should be an easy fix” Phew! So he went into the shop, and came back 10 minutes later like “there! All better. AND that will be free of charge because our policy is that if it takes less than 10 minutes it’s free.” And I said “YayyyyY”
Then I went to dinner at a place with good reviews. I wanted to try something interesting to drink besides a coke, but the drink menu was All in Croatian, so I asked the waiter to explain what stuff was. I learned that Jana is water, and also they had these juice « nectars » or whatever but I’m never sure about nectar! Is it juice? Or is it, like, fruit bits that you’re supposed to mix with water? I don’t get it. Anyway, the waiter was amused. He showed me all the different Croatian drinks they have and he said this was the strangest drink order he’s ever had. But funny. Finally, he suggested this soda called « Cockta » which is the Slovenian, or Yugoslavian answer to Coke. But it’s made with pomegranate. It took us a minute to find the word for pomegranate but google helped. I love pomegranates, so I chose that, and I was really happy to discover a new drink as it was really really tasty. Also, I learned that Croatia didn’t use to be a country. It was just a part of a bigger country called Yugoslavia that included Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, and others. I guess everyone who paid attention in history class probably already knew that, but that kind of info just sounds like some faraway thing that doesn’t really matter, until you’re actually IN the place, drinking their Cockta. Also, I learned how to say thank you in Croatian. It’s “Hvala”. I was really keen to learn more about Zagreb and how it got to be so beautiful, and who used to live in those amazing palaces. I wish I’d gone to an actual history museum of the city instead of the quirky “broken relationships” museum. It was like a bunch of mementos and objects that came with a story people wrote about their broken relationship. Some of them were funny, some were sad. Some were extremely beautiful and romantic. But Some of them were extremely romantic and beautiful. I wasn’t about to start reading every single story.. plus I’m sensitive, I’m not trying to read about people failing at things I want to succeed at.
Anyway so the next day I went busking again, tried a different spot, a bit outside the main square. Was not bad at all. This lady stopped and took some videos, and then she invited me to come play at her restaurant this summer! On an island down south! I was already planning to come back to Croatia in the summer so it’s perfect. Also a man stopped to sit on the bench in front of me and listened for like 20 minutes. The way he was closing his eyes and taking in the music I thought he had to be a musician. I was right, because he came to introduce himself, said he’s a violinist and we made plans to meet the next day and jam.
I stopped early because it was getting a bit cold and windy, and also I was itchy as Hell!
I came back to the hotel to find that I had new bug bites, on my back, on my fingers, and they were all swollen and itchy af! That when I had to face the truth: Jasmine these are not mosquito bites. You have. Gasp. Bed bugs. Fuuuuuck. The worst thing in the world. The next hours were spent at the laundromat, washing and drying EVERYTHING on the highest heat. My room was changed. On the bright side, I had my own bathroom now. I was so upset. I KNEW that hostel in Vienna was fucked. I should have never stepped into the “Do Step Inn”. I was so nervous the bugs were gonna spread if I didn’t burn them all. I was so itchy and full of red swollen welts. I almost cried. But then I thought “No! This kinds of things happen sometimes. It’s not a big deal. They will go away. This is part of the Adventure! You have to take the good with the bad. That’s what adventure is all about.” So that’s how I convinced myself to not cry. I got this antihistamine cream from the pharmacy and slathered myself with it to stop the itch. I went out and treated myself to some comfort food gnocchi with asparagus on the side, and a cherry strudel for dessert. After writing that rude comment last time about strudel only being worthwhile in Vienna, I figured I should actually test to make sure I know what I’m talking about. My cherry strudel was comforting. But I’m telling you that apple strudel at the zwölf-Apostel-Keller was like Last supper good.
Anywho, I booked a bus to Belgrade for the next evening. I didn’t get to busk as much and see as much as I wanted but this bed bug story had me itching to move on. This morning I finished disinfecting my clothes, and I felt a huge relief. Even the bite marks have gone down a lot. I met up for a drink with Max the violinist. Even though we didn’t have time
To jam, as a former busker, he had some very encouraging words and some advice for me. He said that all the energy I’m giving when I sing and play is going to wear me out and that I should conserve it.
Sometimes I feel like I’m giving so much of myself for such a petty return! But I don’t have another way of making money at the moment. I have to keep finding ways of making it worthwhile for me, while continuously improving. Making my music and writing my blog can’t be about other people and trying to make them like me. The audience doesn’t want to be seen, they came to watch You! So you have to go within and just say your truth. Anyway. Philosophy. I’m now on a bus to Belgrade, and I just discovered that Serbia Is not part of the EU, because my internet connection just dropped off when we entered the country. Also, the bus driver is smoking cigarettes. Who does that?