Meet the People of Zagreb: Jean-Michel, Geology Student, Runner, Volunteer, Cook

Total Croatia News

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1. Hi Jean-Michel, could you tell us something about yourself?
Hi, I’m Jean-Michel Henry Cindro-Pyronnet, a 25 year old student currently living in Zagreb and, despite what the name might suggest, I’m actually from Zagreb. 🙂 I study geology, which doesn’t really go along with my job – enterprise IT but I like learning new things so I make it work. My spare time is mainly used up by running, playing tabletop games with friends, reading and cooking. I mainly cook cakes and desserts, but I’ve been making lunch for myself most days since I was twelve so I’m a dab hand at a variety of dishes.

2. What’s it like living in Zagreb with a French name? Do people automatically start talking to you in English?
On one hand having a name (or names) like mine is cool because its a great icebreaker, and people rarely forget my name (unlike me, I’m terrible at names and faces). Some people even compliment me on my great grasp of Croatian!
On the other hand I often have problems with bureaucracy since you can only have two names in Croatia, and a lot of places don’t have space for dashes in a name.
Some people do start talking English with me but it’s the same amount as those who try corny French phrases like “voulez-vous coucher avec moi?”

3. Do you like living in Zagreb? What are some of your favourite things about living here?
As far as I’m concerned Zagreb is a great town because there’s something for everyone here. Do you like sports? Indoors or outdoors? Culture? Having fun? Relaxing? There are places for all of those activities.
The thing I like the most about Zagreb is that all my friends are here, and since it isn’t too big we have a saying that “zagreb is a village”- meaning everyone knows everyone else, and if you don’t know someone personally you will quickly find out you have a mutual friend or three.

4. What are some of your least favourite things about living here, anything you’d like to change?
My least favourite things about Zagreb is the culture on the roads (there isn’t any)- drivers don’t like cyclists and barely tolerate pedestrians, pedestrians don’t like cyclists and tolerate cars, and cyclists think they can act like both groups. And all of the above is caused by really bad infrastructure, but that is a discussion for another day.

5. You’re member of The Cyclist Syndicate and you run, both as team sports. Do you do it because of the activity or does spending time with people who enjoy doing the same things as you play an equally important role in it?
I actually enjoy both running solo to clear my head and have some time for myself and running with others to talk with them and have some fun. Team sports and activities are amazing because everyone motivates each other to be better and try harder. And I’m an active person, so even if i didn’t have a group to do sports with I would do it, or else I’d lose my mind in about two weeks.

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6. You also volunteer, do a lot of people volunteer in Zagreb? What do you think the people’s main motivation in it is?
There are a lot of different organizations and options for volunteering in Zagreb, and as a consequence there is a fair amount of volunteering being done. People do it for a bunch of reasons but from what I see they mainly want to give something back to the community, earn some good karma and further a cause they believe in.

7. What are your favourite places to go out in Zagreb?
My favourite place to go out is anywhere with good food! However if you’re thinking of clubs it really depends on the mood, lately I’ve been partial to house parties and hanging out at home with friends. If I had to choose though, I’d say Katran or Hangar.

8. What’s your absolute favourite place in the city?
I don’t have an absolute favourite place, but I do have a favourite time- running between 8-10 pm during autumn or spring, when the temperature is just right, everything smells great and the city noise quiets down.
It’s really relaxing and replenishing.

9. Favourite restaurant and cafe?
For the last couple of years I’ve been hunting for the perfect hamburger so I mainly go to burger joints (if you wan’t a good 1pm burger theres a great place at the end of Tkalča street). One of the better restaurants I’ve been to is Mlinarica. Favourite caffe by far is cookie factory, since I have to check on my brownie rivals from time to time :D.

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10. Do you think the city has changed in the past couple of years and how?
The city is always changing- some parts like the cycling infrastructure is getting (incredibly slowly) better, there are more places with good street food so we aren’t limited to bakeries and kebabs anymore, new clubs are opening… On the other hand some people are still living in the past, the politicians are a constant problem, student pay is abysmal etc.

11. What are some of the places you think most tourists miss when they visit Zagreb?
Tourists miss the same places in every town- small venues which aren’t on any tripadvisor, yelp or google maps- even more so in Zagreb, since we are a few years behind everyone else with social networks like those. Places I recommend to my tourist friends are Art park, some burger joints, Dotrščina and maybe even Maksimir and the Zoo- some people miss it since it isn’t in the centre of town.


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