The Box of Many Things

I have greatly altered course in the last week. This was partly motivated by a desire to visit some friends. Mostly, though: why not? So I left my bike at Luana’s in Zurich and took the night train to Zagreb, Croatia.

The overall plan is to visit here and then Belgrade and Sofia, where some more awesome people live, for three-ish weeks. Then I’ll head back to Zurich and resume my voyage towards Vienna. Thus, I’ve had a markedly different experience already.

It seems that Zagreb is a city of markets. I, and other people at the hostel, have fed ourselves with produce just pulled from the ground (I’m sure there’s some exaggeration in that) and have browsed antique collections of remarkable diversity, such as an old Nazi passport next to an NYC Transit Police patch. Naturally. We’ve gotten so much from these that I’ve only just started on the restaurant scene, conveniently timed with Restaurant Week (I’m sure I’ll have something to say about that later).

Meat downstairs
Fruit upstairs
And some plate ware down the road
Those reels contain the Berlin Olympics

There’s also a market that I haven’t gotten to where you could even buy old cars.

The energy is also noticeably different, though I’m still sorting out how. It’s chaotic and bustling, yet slow and peaceful. People talk to each other on public transport, and sometimes even provide a spare ticket if the controller steps onto the tram.

Provided anybody else is on board

Zagreb is colorful, both in terms of buildings and parks:

Comic book cafe

This (and the two previous) are actually a cemetery, that is used as a park. Interesting concept

and its people.

I think it’ll be more fun to leave this out of context

In spite of all of this, the highlight is the hostel I am staying in: Mali Mrak. In a very rough translation (Igor, the owner, says it’s impossible to translate) it means cozy. But, importantly, there’s a much deeper sentiment than the simple connotation of a pleasant place to be. Just like that little paper sign on the staircase, it’s a Box of Many Things. It is just like staying at a very good friend’s house, and almost serves as a destination in itself. Time really does seem to float away as we spend hours in the yard, sharing everything we have: stories, ideas, and of course food and wine.

Don’t worry: the big bottle is water


Part of the allure of the place is the owners’ emphasis on creating a communal atmosphere. You make yourself at home, and everybody buys a round. Travelers have contributed to the artwork and charms throughout the house, manifesting their connection to it. Through the people, trinkets, and experiences, it’s a little world of assorted oddities that make up something brilliant, just like the markets I’ve passed through. While I’ve loved plenty of the hostels that I’ve visited, this one has that energy that I hope to spread to others in due time.


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