Flower Square Zagreb: Croatian Cafe Lifestyle… without the Cafe

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After weeks of being chained to the sofa in my living room in Varazdin, the last few weeks have seen me emerge into the new normal for a few essential meetings all over the region. 

It has been a very odd and disorienting experience. 


Nothing confused me more than my trip to Tirana last month, leaving Croatia for three nights in Bosnia and Hercegovina, Montenegro and Albania. In all three countries, the rather alien sight of bars and restaurants open, followed by a 22:00 curfew each night. By day two I was hooked, and I can’t tell you what a difference it made psychologically to be able to sit in a cafe and have a meeting over a relaxing cold one. 

I felt like I had been given a bonus for good behaviour. 


It was soon back to reality on returning to Croatia. It had been weeks since I had had a meeting, and I had not given any prior thought to where I would catch up with young Rogulj for our TCN Split catchup. Minus 1 at 07:45 with nothing open except the supermarket did not look too appealing. But 6,000 steps and many laughs later, we had spent an hour inspecting every square inch of SPAR floorspace. 

Relaxing Tirana was just a distant memory.  

Zagreb was different, as we looked at recently in the University of Aliens on Mars programme into human behaviour in As Gym Owner Faces Prison, the Virus Must be Laughing at Croatia’s Inconsistent Measures.

To be clear, I don’t have a public opinion on corona – not that my opinion matters, especially when we have so many experts out there on Facebook – but I do think being consistent is important. The virus would be somewhat bemused to learn that one can have a mixed grill on the Bosnian Riviera, but not on the two parts of Croatia next door. Or that in Croatia, you can huddle up and have the cafe experience, only without the cafe, as this will stop the spread of the virus. 

I popped into the bank on Flower Square Zagreb today. it was really lovely. As you can see from the video above, gentle live music, friends enjoying the late morning sun and the relaxed cafe lifestyle. 


Only without the cafes, which remain shut to prevent the spread of the virus. 


Which has had the effect of boosting the coffee to go business (only it is illegal to order one from a cafe) with people cramming in benches right next to the forbidden cafe terraces. 

There is some exceptional Croatian bureaucratic logic at work here, as the catering industry is on its knees. Looking at Flower Square Zagreb today, I think people would be more socially distanced sitting at tables on cafe terraces (and certainly more comfortable) than the situation they are reduced to at present. 

Very, very odd. But at least the rumours of a February 15 opening are getting stronger. 


(Dolac Market today)

Follow the latest on coronavirus in Croatia check out the TCN Daily Travel Update


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