Zagreb and the Museum of Broken Relationships

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Sunday 29th June, 2014

This is really my only day to explore Zagreb as I have only booked two nights.  I’m not overly keen to exhaust myself either because I want to give my legs a chance to rest after yesterday and before my next stop, Bled in Slovenia, where I plan to do a lot of walking.  The one thing I really wanted to do here was go to the Museum of Broken Relationships.   My hostel is super central and, after seeking advice about what to do with the rest of my day, I make the ten minute walk up a lot of stairs to get to the museum.  To quote some info from inside, the museum “offers a chance to overcome an emotional collapse through creation” by donating a legacy of love lost.  “Our societies oblige us with marriages, funerals …. but deny us of any formal recognition of the demise of a relationship, despite its strong emotional effect.”

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Each exhibit has one item, with an explanation of between 4-2000 words from its donor.  There are relationships on display from all walks of life: young, old, parental, gay, BDSM, from wars, from high school etc etc.  Emotional me is having an absolute field day. Yes, mostly it is a bit depressing but there are also humorous posts, not that I saw anyone else giggling. Here’s my favourite.

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The caption for the toaster reads: ‘When I moved out, and across the country, I took the toaster. That’ll show you. How are you going to toast anything now?’

Closely followed by my second favourite…

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Other memorable exhibits include an axe slammed into the wall, symbolic of chopped up furniture post breakup, a cheque book  (see caption for that one below) representing meals out, marriage, college tuition, divorce attorneys, counselling, and a trip to the psychiatric ward, olive pips spat out by an unassuming lover, a suicide note, also diaries, mixed tapes that patrons could listen to, videos to watch etc.

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I read every word and leave the museum feeling veeeery normal and lucky to be in a loving relationship. Love really makes people do crazy things! It does make me think though, what one item would represent my relationship, your relationship?  Thought fodder for later.

I find myself in the square behind the museum plotting my next move and taking some snaps of St Marks Church when four men in period costume riding horses prance through the square and out of sight.  It’s 11.47am.  Something stirs in my memory about some sort of midday changing of the guard ritual.  Although, I can’t actually see any guards to change. A throng of tourists have now gathered, waiting for I’m not sure what.  We wait for 5-10 minutes with no action.  Then we hear a canon fire, maybe 12 times, then the four horsemen return with 11 foot soldiers and two drummers.  The church bells chime at 12 on the dot and a 10 minute, well rehearsed routine is played out for the cameras.

Afterwards I stroll the streets, happy that there’s few people about (maybe because it’s a Sunday?) and find myself the sole customer in a tiny leather shop full of handbags. Oh dear. They are so beautiful. All sizes, colours and textures, and no two bags the same, except for the brand engraved on a small metal plate: “Lile”. I get chatting to the girl in the shop who is probably only a few years older than me. She and her mother make the bags and her brother is in the business also. The brand is her mother’s name, pronounced similar to our “Lilly”. The leather, mostly from cows, is locally sourced with some bolstering from Italy. I could buy five bags in here. I ask if there’s a discount for multiple purchases. After a negative response I settle for two, one of black suede that could double as a clutch and a fun turquoise number. That totals three handbags that have been purchased in Croatia  : l

I stroll down a lovely street with a few market stalls and find myself a bench in dappled sunlight and have a few hours of writing. I am super happy and don’t even feel bad that my mood is in part due to a material purchase (somewhat of a consumer-phobe! although my track record on this adventure has been a little indulgent). So I sit on my zen bench with my zen hair blowing in the wind reflecting about how bloody good life is right now.

I was advised to visit the historical museum but for the first time I just can’t be bothered, and I quell my conscience that tells me I should be. After establishing that the modern art museum is shut and checking out the main cathedral (getting a bit over them and I constantly forget to wear modest clothing) I take myself out for lunch at a recommended local joint.  One smoothie, a beer and toasted sandwich later I waddle back to the hostel for a midday nap that I’m becoming all too accustomed too. I would usually feel guilty sleeping in the middle of the day whilst on a European holiday but with the knowledge that most hostellers sleep till midday, I just don’t.

After a half hearted look at some shops, back at the hostel I am glad to see my favourite Aussie threesome (sisters Beth and Kate Johnston and their friend Elise) that I met in Montenegro, saw in Bosnia and now in Croatia.  We go for dinner at Zagreb’s ‘best ćevapi’ restaurant. Ćevapi is a grilled dish of minced meat, a type of skinless sausage, and a national dish of Bosnia and Herzegovina which I didn’t get around to trying whilst I was there. I’m still not really hungry from my mammoth lunch but I manage to put back the five mini sausages in the pita like bread with sauce and salad without too much difficulty…. of course.

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