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Zagorje County: A place full of happy faces

Zagorje county, you might not believe it, is a place in this world where people seem to not be worried or troubled or stressed out.

Zagorje is a north-eastern region in Croatia, just a half an hour drive from Zagreb, where everybody’s smiling all the time.

Make Friends in Zagorje
Make Friends in Zagorje

As soon as you leave the city streets, traffic jams and rush hours, you enter the fairy tale landscape of innumerable hills, chaotically scattered around the area, exposing the vineyards and orchards down their slopes. Farms, zero-mile restaurants, castles, the wine cellars, picturesque cottages – it is all mixed up in no particular order.

Zagorje county is perfect for a road trip. Because you never know what’s waiting for you behind the corner.

Once upon a time, a lawless place of bandits and battles, Zagorje county was right in the middle of the trading route between Ottoman and Habsburg empires. But the bandits are long gone, and happy faces have stayed.

Marija Bistrica

Why all the happy faces you might ask? - What makes these people so cheerful in Zagorje county?

Well, let’s take a closer look. You know how we all like to mock and tell jokes about other people. Every country has it – a group of people that everybody makes fun of. In Croatia, it’s the people of Zagorje, considered addled-brained folks. Until you meet them in person.

They speak this unique dialect that the rest of Croatians don’t really understand, like a language in itself, with silly accents, diminutives and, foreign words.

But don’t fall under the wrong impression; many of the greatest women and men in Croatian history came from Zagorje. It has always been the fountain of a progressive social and political thought.

So, it's something else that makes them smile all the time in Zagorje county.

Try talking to them and see what happens.

After only a few exchanged sentences you will surely be invited to a “klet” – a small house made for secret drinking with friends. Every family house in Zagorje county has it. A wooden house at the top of the plot, with barrels full of home-grown wine.

Festive Atmosphere in Klet
Festive Atmosphere in Klet

Now, we're getting closer.

Upon your invitation to klet, you’ll be introduced to a general rule of hospitality: all that is on the table is served. And you are not allowed to leave the table before all that is served is gone.

The plates of smoked prosciutto, pumpkin-seed cheese, roast duck, mlinci and štrukli. And many, many bottles of home-grown wine. And even more bottles of that same wine. Graševina and Chardonnay most noticeably.

The trick is – your host will take close care that the bottle is never empty. And you won't even notice it until it's too late.

You are d-r-u-n-k!

Vineyard View in Zagorje
Vineyard View in Zagorje

Zagorje county’s commitment to its farm-to-fork food scene is closely tied to their love of wine. Drinking wine is not only part of their culture. It is almost a question of life and death – who would want to live a life without a single drop of joy in it!?
Or droplet as they call it.

According to the rest of the world gallons.

Your CTC Team, I.K.

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