The HBO television show, “Game of Thrones,” popularized Croatia recently and hurled it into the collective consciousness with its Romantic landscapes and fortified cities.
Although the saga has captured Americans, Europeans have long vacationed in this historically tumultuous land that boasts turquoise water, rambling rocky beaches and the breathtaking walled city of Dubrovnik.
For years, traveler friends boasted of the pristine islands off Croatia’s coast, some barely inhabited and covered by pine trees, others home to saltwater lakes and tucked away beaches.
Once I found out that there was a famous flea market in Zagreb called the Hrelic Market, and a quality antiques market at Britanski Trg in the same city, I decided to follow the Italian hoards that love to bake on beaches in the summer without the Euro price tag.
The Hrelic market appears on the horizon after a surreal trek down a dirt path toward an industrial looking clearing.
Like other fleas, it kind of resembles a cross between the contents of someone’s grandmother’s garage and an electrical supply store. An added interest is acres of used cars being sold in what seems like shear chaos.
This day happened to be particularly scorching and windless, so once we found some pieces to rework, like postage stamps and coins from the former Yugoslavia, a bureaucratic rubber stamp and some interesting lace, we high tailed it to a little makeshift café full of locals eating the traditional meats and stews.
The Britanski Trg, in the middle of the old section, felt significantly more sophisticated, like the elegant French flea markets with antique stylish glasses and side plates, but without the shocking prices and professional antiquers who sort the really good stuff for a more affluent population.
When designing the jewelry, I plan to incorporate elements of the kingdom-like city of Dubrovnik with the more recent history relating to the former Yugoslavia. Romance and Communism might make some interesting designs. Stay tuned…
The Hrelic Flea Market in Zagreb, Croatia
Held Sunday and Wednesday, 7 am-3 pm
Britanski Trg Antiques Market in Zagreb Croatia
Saturday and Sunday, 7 am-3 pm