We hopped on the train in Budapest and were very happy to get our own private compartment where we could stretch out and settle in for the 6.5 hour journey to Zagreb, Croatia. Our dreams of a solitary trip were smashed when the door was thrust open and a gentleman threw his bags onto the racks and he and his wife settled down into the car. They appeared to be Americans as well, but weary of starting a conversation that would last for the entire six and a half hours to Zagreb we didn't say much, meaning anything. Eventually they got up to search for a beverage car as the guy eyed the beer I was enjoying (Srdan had given us a few to make the journey a bit more barable) and he asked me where I got it. "Brought it with me" I said with a (not entirely un-smug) smile and off they went in search of their own refreshing beverages. A few minutes later they re-entered the car with a look of defeat on their faces as they been unable to find a refreshment car and were thus staring down the barrel of a 6.5 hour train ride with little in the way of food and worse, not a drop of anything but their water bottles to drink. Watching this I was initially unmoved, it's a cold game after all. But eventually, and after a few stern glances from Gina, I reached into my bag and presented the guy with one of my (still cold) beers... and thus began a several hour conversation with Van and Pat of Minneapolis, Minnesota. And here's the thing: they were lovely people and we quite enjoyed chatting with them. However, when you are stuck in a small compartment with several more hours in the journey there always comes a point when both parties have had enough chatting and are ready to retreat to the quiet solitude of what ever book they are reading and well, it can just be a little awkward. Thankfully, as I mentioned, Van and Pat were lovely people and the four of us were able to conversate and then navigate the transition back to reading with ease and grace.
We puttered into Zagreb at almost 8pm and bid adieu to our friends and got on with the business of finding our accomodation and getting the keys. We had found an apt to rent, but the guy's plan for us getting the keys was for him to leave them in the waterbottle of his bike that he was going to lock up downstairs. Seemed a bit random and sketchy, but it actually worked out just fine.
After dropping our bags we rolled out to the nearest food we could find which was pizza spot down the street where we feasted on pizzas that we ordered pretty much blind (Croatian is a tricky language to decipher). We ended up with one pizza that had corn, sesame seeds and a few other pizza oddities as toppings.
In the morning we got our bus tickets to Pula then spent a few hours wandering the town. We got a coffee at the second place we tried (we sat for 10 minutes without acknowledgment at the first before leaving). The coffee was good and what's more the waitress brought us ice water, for free!! It's the little things, boy, I'll tell ya. Turned out they were having a vegetarian festival in the city that day so we, obviously, had to check that out. Zagreb is a charming little town. The people all seemed friendly and nice and while not what I would consider a spectacularly beautiful city, compared with other European cities, it certainly has it's areas that are quite nice and very, very cute. We had a 2:00pm bus to catch so unfortunately our time in Zagreb was short, only about 18 hours total, but safe to say a longer stay next time would be worth while.