Check out Croatia (“kro-EY-sha”) on a map and you will know that cartographers have one hell of a sense of humor. Looking a little bit like a boomerang, this country across the Adriatic Sea from Italy is currently basking in the light as one of THE places to visit. And why not? It’s Italian-influenced coast and Continental interior have some of the most gorgeous sites, natural and man-made, in Europe. That’s saying something.
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Most Croatian vacations start in the capital of Zagreb (it has the largest airport), and the city can well keep one occupied. And like a lot of places in the Balkan Peninsula, the local history can be convoluted: Medieval Zagreb was actually two separate villages, Kaptol and Gradec. It wasn’t until after 1242 that the two grew together to form what is now the old city of the capital, and it wasn’t until the 1800s that Zagreb expanded. And expand it did: Streets, boulevards, and block after block of elegant buildings, all in the neoclassical Beau-Arts style, were laid out. Today, Zagreb can seem like a mini-Paris.
Frustratingly, modern Zagreb is very European in that there is no gay section of town (don’t be too condemning, London doesn’t have one either). Hotpot and Denis Club, probably the most popular of the gay clubs, are across from one another, but Rush Bar, Boonker, and the Bumerang Sauna are several blocks from each other. The upside is that Zagreb, despite being a capital, is not nearly as big as it looks on the map. You can cover a lot of ground just on foot, and there is a tram that makes getting around even easier.
If the pickings seem slim, there is a good reason: Zagreb became a capital only 25 years ago. Before then, it was part of Yugoslavia, whose communist government actively tried to stamp out any hint of homosexuality. Between Croatia’s independence in 1991 and now, there hasn’t been a lot of time for a community to 1) emerge and 2) get a foothold. It’s first Pride was in 2002.
So things are a bit “young,” but hey — where would Brent Corrigan be if “young” was a bad thing? The hills of Kaptol and Gradec are still around (the Stone Gate that leads into old Gradec is emblematic of Zagreb), and the street dividing them, Tkalčićeva Ulica, is a non-stop party after the sun goes down. If you want to get in good with the locals, dart into one of the bars and order up a shot of šljivovica (“slee-vo-VEE-cha”); it’s the local brandy/rocket fuel.
Just don’t make it a competition, šljivovica takes no prisoners. Contact Steele Luxury Travel to make a booking today // Visit us at www.SteeleTravel.com