Zig Zag Medvescak (MED-vah-Shak). We heard that a lot our first night here in Zagreb as we watched the hometown Bears beat a team from Ljubjna, 5-2. Hockey is big in this part of the world and the 15,000 seat arena, built less than four years ago, was pretty full. In a country that would never have had t-shirts, jerseys, scarfs and other paraphernalia for sale 25 years ago, the fan culture is going strong now and our students are fans. It would be un-BEAR-able not to cheer for the home team.
Our first full day here started with a city tour and brief history of this fascinating city that is unknown to most American tourists. We walked through the vibrant city market and over to the cathedral before having time on our own to eat and explore. Late afternoon, we met with a group of law students at their campus near the Parliament. The students had a lively discussion for two hours with topics ranging from the importance of Croatia joining the European Union to the upcoming US Presidential election. When it was all over, students from both countries adjourned to local coffee shops to continue to talk.
This morning, we met with the head of the UN Development Program for a two hour discussion of what Croatia needs to develop further and with the UNDP does generally. The afternoon provided an opportunity to catch up on what we missed here before we take a flight tomorrow morning to our last destination: Italy.
(below: the view from the train station looking toward our hotel, three blocks away)