I always like to visit the markets where the locals shop in every town. Not that I need to buy organic vegetables and fresh fish. Yet there is a certain pleasure in seeing how the locals behave so naturally and at ease in the market they are used to go every day probably since they were children. And the great thing about most local markets is that you can also find something for tourists – and typically these will be handmade souvenirs, actually produced by the locals and sold at relatively cheap prices to the public. So, if you want to get cheap souvenirs… avoid the shops where everything comes from China (nothing against the country by the way, as a traveller I always feel I need to give back to the country I’m visiting, especially in a covid situation where touristic places lost so much).
The market of Zagreb is hard to miss. It happens every single day of the week and, what caught my attention more than anything, was the flower market. Perhaps because as much as I was seeing people eating ice cream in the streets, I was also seeing so many carrying flowers. How nice! I’m someone who would love to fill my future house with plants and flowers, but unfortunately never spent the time at home needed to enjoy them and stop them from dying (hence my strong preference for cacti). But in Zagreb, buying flowers every morning seems to be part of the daily routine, which filled me with a strange joy.
The flowers were so beautiful and fresh, and they sold lots of lavender. Croatia is one of the largest producers of lavender, so you’ll find lots of souvenirs containing lavender capable of making an entire room smell of this flower. Because I love the smell myself, I bought some and my bedroom smells very calm. Yes, I said it smell calm. Because that’s how lavender makes me feel.
Finally here’s a shot of a statue which I believe represents an old Croatian woman going to the market back at the very beginning of its history. We can’t forget that while Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, it has just over half a million inhabitants (684K) – in the 1950’s, its population was only about 312K. A capital that is still a very tiny town and I guess that’s where its charm does come from.
Do you often visit the markets of the cities you visit? And, most importantly, do you go to your hometown’s market often? I don’t, never had the habit. We’ve always lived too far from the city to go to that trouble and, living in a village, my parents grew their own vegetables and fruit. Yet, I feel that my generation, living in the big cities, are becoming more aware of the quality of the food they get and are turning to the local farmer markets to do some of their weekly grocery shopping.