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The best guides aren’t just local, they’re native.

The city center of Zagreb is a mix of what you might expect, electric trams gliding through a sea of contemporary structures interlaced with antiquated architecture. An obvious hub for businesses. We met with Nenad and Eva, a resident couple, for coffee in Dolac Market where shops adorn the streets. There they gave us a glimpse of what life is like in Zagreb as we joined them for a stroll and Strukli.

The market overflowed with merchants and customers alike, some from as far away as Rovinj, a little over 250 kilometers east. It was easy to get a sense of what Croatia would be offering up from this standpoint as the city center turned out to be a melting pot for many townsfolk down the Dalmatian coast. With all of this going for it, however, there’s still a modest integrity that comes with the territory. Though it’s a bustling haven to both commerce and ancestry, boasting it’s quaint hillside village charm, Zagreb nevertheless upholds the notion of what a capital city should be.

Zagreb really set the stage for the rest of our trip down the Dalmatian coast. Sure, there were the standard tourist traps like souvenir shops and chain hotels, but the character of the city heavily borrows from the people that reside there, giving the place a pronounced identity, and that’s precisely what makes her tick.