We woke before our 4:45 wake-up call. We hadn’t really unpacked so there wasn’t much to do but shower and dress. That’s when I discovered that I’d be going “naturist” in Croatia……not the type of naturism that the country is known for…..my naturism would be facial only……Craig had forgotten to pack the make-up bag I had laid out. Well, that’ll simplify getting ready in the mornings!
We arrived at the airport with time to spare….check-in and boarding went smoothly but, due to a “baggage problem,” our departure was delayed by 40 minutes…..with a tight transfer time in Paris, we were concerned that we might miss our flight to Zagreb but the pilot made up some of the time and we were fast-tracked through immigration and security so we arrived at our gate just in time to board the last bus out to the distant backfields of CDG where we boarded a 60 passenger jet..
Two hours later, we landed at Zagreb’s small, international airport, breezed through Immigration, got another stamp in our passports (yay!), grabbed a taxi and were on our way to our hotel, the Regent Esplanade…..built in 1925 for passengers of the Orient Express, it’s 5-star elegance shines again. The lobby, marbled and mirrored, echos the glory of previous guests…..Queen Elizabeth, Charles Lindberg, Josephine Baker, Orson Welles and Elizabeth Taylor, among others.
We were seated in velvet chairs fronting a large finely patina’d desk. A young woman offered us a glass of champagne as she completed our check-in and handed us our room keys. A young porter met us in our room with our luggage. The spacious room was elegant….two mirrored closets, a queen-sized bed with four downy-soft pillows, a desk, a comfy reading chair and a marble bathroom with both a rain-shower and a bathtub big enough for two…..and all this for less than most 2-star hotels in Paris!
But the wonders of the room could wait…..we were anxious to see Zagreb. We grabbed our guidebooks and headed out the door. A short walk along a busy street bordered by a grassy, flower-filled park brought us to the city’s main square, Trg Bana Jelacica…..a bustling hub of cafés, trams, shops and people. Across the square, all roads led up…..we followed the pedestrian, café-laden Tkalciceva Street past shoe store after shoe store….at a three-way intersection, there were five shoe stores! These must be the most well-heeled people in Europe! We continued our walk uphill, stopping at Pivnica Medvedgrad Pub for lunch…..the shade of the umbrellas and the slight breeze were a welcome respite from the heat of the day. We watched the comings and goings as we supped on house-made specialties…..sausage and beans for Craig and, for me, a salad and a “Bear Paw”…..five little sausages peeking out of a homemade bun……all washed down with house-brewed beers. Total price? 375 kunas…..about $20.
The day was still young, but it was hot and we were tired. Sightseeing could wait ‘til tomorrow. We walked back to the hotel and took a nice, long nap. I woke before Craig and decided to explore the hotel’s offerings……a sauna, a spa, an exercise room…..but most intriguing was their “Bath Menu”……a selection of various baths to be made up in your room with prices ranging from 275 – 1000 Kunas ($55 – $200). Some of the selections:
– The Great Gatsby Bath……for the male hedonist – oils of sesame, vetiver, fennel and cypress with a glass of cognac and aromatic cigar
– The Chocolate Bath…..for children, with chamomile, chocolate and vanilla oils
– The 1001 Nights Bath for two……with jojoba, jasmine, geranium and grapefruit oils, a plate of chocolate pralines and a bottle of champagne
– The Pleasant Dreams Bath…..marigold, melissa, lavender & chamomile oils accompanied with soft music, a glass of red wine and scented candles
Hmmmm……sounds decadent, but maybe we can squeeze it into the budget.
After Craig woke up, we down to the Terrace Bar for a little liquid refreshment and a light snack…..Croatian Strulki….similar to a really big cheese blintz….baked in a cream sauce and served with either salt & pepper or sugar. We tried it both ways…..the savory taste was very good but the sweet version was, by far, our favorite.