The lovely girl who had ushered us into the apartment lives in the apartment next door with her mother. We had met her mother a couple of days earlier, she is a friendly enthusiastic person who when hearing we were going to visit Samobor told us that ‘she comes from Samobor and she would like to give us some books about the region’.
She has taken the time to leave a couple of Croatian books about Samobor on our doorstep. Of course Pam and I can’t read any of the text however we do go through the beautiful pictures and make plans as to where we wish to go ourselves.
A picture of a lady in snow up to her waist sends a chill up my spine.
Tomorrow we are leaving Zagreb and heading for Pula so it is now or never for Samobor.
We have not done any laundry so far in Zagreb and are down to our last clean clothes, we plan for the day ahead accordingly.
Buses leave hourly for Samobor, we have been advised there is a laundry service further up the same street the Cathedral stands on by the tourist office on our first day in Zagreb.
The sky is low and grey once more, it feels as though it may rain at any moment. We decide to take our wet weather gear.
Our laundry load fills two big plastic bags and we must look every inch the tourists we are as we walk by the Cathedral once more. Luckily we have been given the street number of the laundry business as it turns out to be behind a completely unsigned door that is to one side of a unsigned little courtyard off the street.
A young girl takes our clothes and tells us ’60 kuna per machine load, come back tomorrow’. As stated we are wearing our last clean clothes, we have just given the girl all our other clothes, we leave tomorrow. We ask ‘can we pick them up in the afternoon’ and are told the ‘business closes at 1pm. We will not be able to be back in time.
We factor this new timing element into our plan for leaving Zagreb tomorrow as we walk towards the main city square to get a tram to the bus terminal.
Number six trams leave about every five minutes or so and within fifteen minutes after boarding the tram we are alighting in the center of the road directly across from the bus terminal.
Half an hour later we are on the bus and heading for Samobor. Our route takes us back past the Harvey Norman shopping complex where we were the previous night, across the still swollen Sava, and then out of Zagreb.
Our arrival destination at Samobor is another bus terminal. We hit the deck walking and make our way into the town centre.
Samobor is a pretty, picturesque town (approx 20 km from the outskirts of Zagreb) that lies in an area bordered by the Sava River Valley and the peaks of the Samoborsko gorje Hills. The township itself lies close to the confluence of two branches of the Gradna stream. The conjoined stream flows through the town following a stone walled course that has many weirs and low falls.
I take photos of the square and surrounding buildings as Pam ducks into the tourist office to obtain some information regarding the historical walks around town.
Samobor is renowned for a dessert speciality Kremsnite which Pam is determined to try and we enter a little cafe where Pam orders a coffee and the dessert slice. I know we are likely to be walking up steep hills today so I stick with the banana I have brought as marching food.
Kremsnite turns out to be similar to a vanilla slice and Pam gives me a spoonful to try…..yum.
Two of the designated walks listed in the tourist brochure appeal to us, the walk around the historic buildings of the town and the longer circuit walk into the hills taking in the ruins of the old town (Stari Grad), Annidol and the Chapel of St Anne.
Candles inside red glass protectors line the main street as well as being placed around the central fountain in the square.
The historic building walk is short and flat and soon we are crossing the Gradna stream via an old roofed wooden bridge and walking by the Samoborski Muzej (Samobor Museum) via the Dr Tudman’s Promenade which is a smooth concrete footpath that follows the banks of the Gradna into the shadow of the mist laden hills.
The ruins of the old town loom from the mist overhead.
After the heavy rains the area has experienced in the last couple of weeks the Gradna is several meters wide and at least thirty centimeters deep as it winds down the stone walled course. There is at least a five meter fall within the distance we have walked since the town centre, with small weirs every hundred meters or so.
I wonder to myself what the level of flow would be in dryer times of the year. As in many towns and areas of Spain that we walked through Samobor is ideally situated to make use of Micro Hydro Electrics to generate a substantial portion of its energy needs.
We leave the concrete path and follow a winding steep uphill gravel track towards the ruined towers. The path is sodden and slippery with large rough stone steps that make me glad I have brought my trusty Pacerpoles.
There is something to be said for traveling out of season. Samobor and its walks are a very popular destination for both the Croatians and tourists and we have been told the walking tracks and ruins can be quite busy.
Today in the mist and cold we have the ruined castle to ourselves.
The mist deadens sounds and shrouds the modern world from view. Time is palpable within the confines of the crumbling walls, malleable.
We climb the levels of the remaining stairs, peering through the defense slots, looking up into turrets. In my minds eye I peel back the centuries and the ruins become a functional defensive structure with a bustling population.
We both try taking arty shots of the town below through a narrow defense slot that don’t come out.
It begins to rain.
Pam and I have no problems walking in the rain if we have to however walking in the rain for sightseeing is not something either of us is very keen on. The tracks are already slippery and the potential for injury only increases with the rain.
We decide to descend to the town again for a late lunch instead of continuing the circuit up into the hills.
Mysteriously another walker appears from behind in the rain and mist and overtakes us. Maybe we were not as alone as we thought.
There appears to only be one restaurant open for lunch in town and we are happy to peel of our rain jackets and sit down in the warmth.
The menu is extensive and the waiter gives us both suggestions that include local flavours such as mushrooms picked from the hillsides above. There are no real vegetarian options on the menu however our waiter says the chef will easily be able to cook up some appropriate plates for Pam.
We are not used to being able to order off the menu with such ease and Pam is a bit dubious as to what the outcome will be.
Our meals arrive, Pam has a veritable feast of roasted vegetables with a fresh mushroom sauce, I have a delicious steak with the same sauce, delicious fresh bread they bake themselves, we share a divine salad.
We chat with our friendly waiter as the restaurant only has a few patrons.
He is a Samobor local who now lives in the USA. He works on a cruise ship as the assistant maitre de and has only come back home for a few weeks to sort out some paperwork. He used to work at the restaurant in Samobor where we are eating when he was younger and has agreed to fill in for a waiter on leave while he has come home. His wife is from the Caribbean and works on the same ship, they have an eight month old daughter. He has been to Australia many times on the cruises and likes it.
We congratulate him on the birth of his daughter and show him a picture of Lexi.
He confirms the details of the lady in snow up to her waist that we had seen in the book of Samobor donated by our next door neighbour and tells us the snow usually lasts till Easter and reaches similar depths in Zagreb.
As we finish our meal he appears with two shots of a local blueberry schnapps liqueur for us to sample on the house.
A sumptuous local meal in pleasant humorous company rounded off with some tasty local fire water.
Life just doesn’t get better than that.
Outside the rain has intensified.
In the glow of the warmth generated from our round full bellies and the joy in our hearts we hardly notice the rain as we walk further down through the town following the course of the Gradna. By the time we have reached the road where we turn back towards the bus terminal there has been at least another five meters in drop fall over weir after weir.
That is at least ten meters water-head through the sleepy town from one side to the other.
We had planned to go to the World Cup qualifier soccer match being played in Zagreb tonight however neither of us are keen to sit in the crowd in the rain which continues to fall during the bus ride back to Zagreb.
As we get on the tram again we make the call.
Police in riot gear are roaming the streets in the city when we return.
From the warmth of our bed we watch the entertaining game on TV. A Croatian star player who had scored their first goal is red carded this time however Croatia end up winning two nil.
You little beauty …….. Go Croatia.
Pam and Mick