There definitely are worse off places on the Balkans than Zagreb. A few impressions from a short trip I took in late April.
Trg Kralja Tomislava with the statue of King Tomislav, first king of Croatia.
Unlike in many other cities in the region most of the public infrastructure in Croatia’s capital seems to be very well kept. The train Station looks inviting.
I only got to see it from the outside. I came and left by bus. It’s just a five hour trip from Vienna.
Train rides take about eight hours. The rail infrastructure isn’t really suited for high speed trains on this route. This goes for Austria, too, which has neglected fully modernizing its tracks in the South of the country. The situation is said to improve in the next few years.
Kiosks are where you can get a lot of your daily supplies short of food. It’s amazing what a variety of goods you can squeeze into such a small place.
Novi Zagreb is a fine example of socialist architecture and urban planning. In the West you tend to be prejudiced against it. Neighborhoods like these have a bad reputation. Quite undeserved, I think. There are open, green spaces and huge parks in between the apartment buildings and the infrastructure struck me as rather sufficent and practical.
You have kindergartens and schools nearby that children can reach without having to cross dangerous streets. There are many small shops, bakeries, cafes and small libraries and cultural centers. Pretty much all your daily needs are covered here. Unless it’s to go to work you don’t have to leave the neighborhood much.
Overall, Croatian society is one of the very few that are doing significantly better than before the end of communism. This doesn’t go for each and every one of its members. Drastic cuts in the social system have left many elderly impoverished. Life did get harder for those on the lower end of society.
Social tensions are rising as these two photos tell. Croatian nationalism allows many to transform their own fears into aggression.
The repercussions of the nationalist regime in power when Croatia seceded from Yugoslavia can still be felt. It is more difficult in Croatia than in many other countries to openly address social issues. That doesn’t mean that people don’t try just like with this graffito.