We can’t say enough about how much we loved Zagreb, our first introduction to Croatia. We definitely will pay another visit to this wonderful country.
First a little bit about how we got there from Phoenix. We booked our flights through Celebrity Cruises, which was out Trans-Atlantic cruise that we did post river cruise. Their flights program gave me access to bulk air to many cities and a return flight from the end of our cruise in Tampa Florida. We booked PHX to London and London to Vienna. We spent the night at an airport hotel in Vienna and enjoyed a Viennese meal. The next morning, we flew from Vienna to Zagreb where we joined our tour. We upgraded those flights to business class, which in Europe means that you sit in the front of the plane and every other seat is blocked off, you also get two carry-on bags and access to the business class lounge. It is usually about $100 -$200 pp to do this, and for a long trip and the convenience, it is makes for a much more pleasant experience. Pictures below of the Vienna dinner Austrian Airlines Business Class lounge in Vienna.
Our arrival in Zagreb was easy. I had pre-booked through my Viator portal a private arrival transfers from the airport to the hotel and our driver was waiting for us just outside baggage claim. A quick walk out to his vehicle and then we at the hotel in just a few minutes. Our cruise director/tour manager was at the hotel waiting for us to check in. Once we got checked in we headed out for a walk through the beautiful downtown area and a quick lunch. Lots of people were in the park enjoying the sunny weather, the beautiful central park and the picturesque train station.
That evening we met for a quick breifing with our cruise manager and then headed out to dinner and wine tasting at a fabulous place call Borstein’s Wine Bar where we enjoyed an array of Croatian wines from different regions.
The next day we had a full half day walking tour of the city. We enjoyed seeing the old town, and Cathedral this is under repair from the 2020 earthquake, and many of the other historic buildings in the city. We even had two chances to see the central market on the street level where they have the fresh produce and then later underground at the meet and cheese hall. Both Croatia and Serbia lay claim to Nikolai Tesla, the electricity pionneer because he lived in Croatia before moving to the United States, but his family was Serbian.
After a nice catered lunch, we boarded our busses to head to the river to board the ship. It should have been an easy 4 hour bus ride to Osijek, but we had to travel another half hour or so to Aljamas. That extra drive was due to the fact that Osijek is on the Dava river and due to low water levels on that river, we needed to board immediately on the Danube. Then we had another unexpected delay, passing trucks kept waiving to our driver to alert him to a problem. We had a fuel leak on our bus. We pulled over at a roadside gas station and our driver worked to fix the leak, maybe with something like FlexSeal? Our Cruise Manage was on our bus, so when we stopped, he treated us all to a drink of our choice at the gas station. We had gas station beer and wine and then entertained ourselves by feeding the large pig and her two babies who were on the farm area adjacent to the gas station. Our tour guide told us that the pick was a special Croatian breed prized for the extra marbling of fat.
Finally, we arrived at the ship and had a great dinner and just relaxed.