Hello from London!
I can't believe it, but I actually made it to London! But first, let me start by letting you know that May turned out to be a great month in Croatia! As I mentioned in my last newsletter, non-essential stores opened up the last week of April. In May, hair salons opened, which was followed by restaurants and bars. By mid-May, they opened travel throughout the country, so I was able to get to see Split - a beautiful seaside community on the Adriatic Sea! I was also able to see Plitvice Lakes, a national park known for its gorgeous waterfalls and lakes. Both visits were such a pleasant surprise, given that I didn't even think I'd be able to leave Zagreb due to the lockdown.
But when I do think back to my time in Zagreb, the one place that will always be in my heart is...
King Tomislav Square
This is city park that I visited pretty much every day during my stay. After I grabbed coffee, I had a walking path that took me right past the park. I'd find a bench, sit down and sip my coffee as I contemplated life and gazed into the super blue skies of Croatia. The park is next to Glavni Kolodvor, the train station that was built in the late 1800's to connect Zagreb to Budapest and Vienna. On the other side of the park is the Art Pavillion of Zagreb. The fountain in the center of the square provided peace and traquility - something very much needed during that crazy time. When I look back to where I was at during COVID-19, I'll always think of King Tomislav Square.
Split is a beautiful seaside town on the Adriatic Sea in Croatia - about a 50 minute flight from Zagreb. It was pure joy that I was able to spend four magical days there! Split is usually filled with tourists this time of the year, but not now. It was pretty much me and the locals. They provided just enough "buzz" to make the atmosphere enjoyable and fun. This video looks at some of the sites I experienced, including Diocletian's Palace and Marjan Forest Park!
Day Trip to Plitvice Lakes
Plitvice Lakes is a national park about 2 hours away from Zagreb by car. It is one of the oldest and largest national parks in Croatia. This area is rich in history, and many battles took place here. It's hard to believe that an area where there has been so much war (the Croatian War of Independence with the Serbs), can now be so beautiful. I had my own personal tour guide for the day, so it was educational as well! I'll share a video next month, but this picture pretty much sums up the day.
An Unexpect Surprise During My Last days in Zagreb
I decided to spend my last few nights in Zagreb at a hotel. My Plitvice Lakes tour guide recommended The Esplanade Zagreb - a beautifully designed Art Deco hotel full of glamour, style, and tradition. It was built as an accommodation for the Orient Express train, which traveled between Paris and Istanbul. Many famous presidents, politicians, film stars, and musicians have stayed (and partied!) there.
I returned to my room one night and found a note on my bed. The hotel asked me if I wanted to be interviewed by Goran Milic, a Croatian journalist with Al Jezeera, who was recording a documentary for Croatian Radio Television. The documentary is about the history of the hotel (now celebrating its 95th anniversary), but also wanted to talk to out of town guests traveling in Croatia during COVID-19. Not being shy in front of the camera, I of course said "yes!" He was a facinating man to talk to, full of history, and the experience was so much fun! I hope to get a clip of the show once it airs. What a way to end my stay in Croatia!
After much concern over whether I'd be able to get to London due to border restrictions, it ended up to be no problem at all. My flight left Zagreb around 9am on Wednesday, June 3rd going first through Frankfurt. After a short layover, it was onward to London Heathrow. Heathrow was very empty, and there were no issues getting through border control. I checked into my Airbnb by 4:30pm. It was an easy day.
I'm very happy to be here in London, but they are still in somewhat of a lockdown mode. It's been interesting to see how differently COVID-19 has been handled here compared to Croatia. In Croatia, I lived through a complete lockdown, only to see it fully re-open. Hopefully, more things will open here as the weeks and months go on.
I'll be in London through the end of September. I haven't really planned October and November yet, but I plan to explore more of the UK. It's way to early to be thinking about that - I'm just glad to be embracing my new chapter here in London. I remain forever thankful and grateful for the way the past five months turned out! 🙏
Thanks for following along! Stay safe and healthy everyone!
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