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On The Scene

A Zest for Zagreb
August 9, 2013
By , Celebrity Contributor

The city: Zagreb, Croatia

Celeb fans: Angelina Jolie, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Depeche Mode

The scoop: George Bernard Shaw once said, “those who seek paradise on earth should come to Dubrovnik.” True, Dubrovnik is considered the jewel of the Adriatic. But the rest of Croatia is equally striking, starting with its capital Zagreb. Croatia made headlines this summer when it officially joined the EU on July 1, more than ten years after it first applied, and Zagreb celebrated with festivities and fireworks. The city is on the itinerary of many celebrities, including Beyoncé and Depeche Mode, who both stayed at the opulent Esplanade Zagreb. Angelina Jolie and Britney Spears splurged on presidential suites – 1,500 euros per night – at the Westin Zagreb.

Colorful requests: Beyoncé supposedly requested an all-white dressing room in Zagreb, whereas Depeche Mode asked for theirs to be all-black, along with a female bodyguard. Different strokes for different folks.

Dine and drink: Sample traditional strukli – rolled dough, cheese, and cream – at the place that makes it best: the Esplanade Zagreb. Keep an eye out – musicians and other celebs often make a pit stop here to try it. For a seven-course homemade Croatian meal, try Prasac or Restac, which is often reserved for private celeb parties. Top off the meal with the best ice-cream in the world at Vincek. Later, go cocktailing on Tkalciceva Ulica, a street in the old town lined with bars, clubs, shops, and street musicians. This is where you’ll find the beautiful people peacocking and rock stars like Whitesnake’s David Coverdale sipping fruity Croatian grappa – aka rakija – in the famous Cica Bar. Or shake hip at Bulldog Pub and Maraschino Bar, both within walking distance of the main square. Don’t miss the chance to sample the local wine Plavac Mali.

See and do: Zagreb has all the hallmarks of a historic city – charming old town presided over by a cathedral, the regal King Tomislav Square – but one of its most popular sights is, perhaps not surprisingly, the Museum of Broken Relationships, which chronicles failed love affairs. After all, everyone has an ex (or five).

Day trip: Take a short road trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park, which has a screensaver-worthy setting of aqua blue lakes, waterfalls, and towering birch and fir trees.