Today we were ready to hit the city. Up for breakfast, and out the door. Except when we went out the door, we discovered it was a rainy day. You see, our room at the Best Western here in Zagreb (yes, we’re staying at a Best Western…) doesn’t exactly have a view; just the building a few feet away. We had no idea what the weather was like.
OK, it’s raining, so what do you do? You go to a museum; if you’re in Zagreb, you go to the Mimara Museum. It’s entirely the collection of an Ante Topic Mimara, a Yugoslavian who spent much of his life buying – or stealing – art. The collection includes some 3,750 pieces from every region and every era. Greek bronze, Egyptian statues, Chinese porcelain, lots of religious statues, and paintings by Raphael, Rubens, Manet, Renoir, Van Dyke, Goya – an amazing collection.
One of the remarkable things about the museum is that there are no crowds and there is essentially no security. You just walk around and can walk right up to anything that you’re interested in. Really intimate.
The other remarkable thing is that apparently there’s quite a controversy about just which ones are real, and/or which ones are stolen. Mimara, you see, spent time after the War recovering art that the Nazis had pilfered from Yugoslavia. But he may well have taken lots that the Nazis pilfered from somewhere besides Yugoslavia. And there is quite the controversy about whether many of the masters are real or fake. Which might explain why there is no security.
BUT – for a non-art guy like me, it was beautiful and amazing. I loved it. Of course, not all art is high-brow; we walked through a park with this charming statue of a boy peeing into the pond.
By the time we were done it had stopped raining, which makes it pretty much a perfect museum stop. We went to see St. Mark’s, with it’s beautiful roof, and walked through parts of the city that looked remarkably like fall, with leaves changing color and everything. We’re not sure just what that’s about, but the heat wave had broken so it was surprisingly cool, and it felt, looked, and even smelled like fall.
Off to lunch, and after a good meal what’s better than a cemetery? So up we hike to the Mirogoj Cemetery, a late 19th century addition to the city’s final resting places. Beautiful and peaceful – dead people are just really calm and quiet. So we walked through for quite a while, then Mark went back to the hotel and I sat on a bench in the sun and finished my history of Poland. It had turned into a beautiful afternoon.
Tomorrow morning, early, we catch a train to Split down on the Dalmatian Coast. We’ll spend most of the next six to eight weeks within a few miles of the Mediterranean. I suspect I’ll love nearly every minute of it.