One of our day trips in the Fall of 2021 was to Varazdin, about 80 kilometers or 50 miles from Zagreb. It is the former capital of Croatia, and its existence stretches back to at least 1181, when it is mentioned in conjunction with nearby thermal springs. Varazdin became a free down in 1209, and served as the military and economic center of north Croatia.  We journeyed there to see its old town, which features an "Old Town" guarded by a castle and fortified earthen walls, defenses against Ottoman invaders. In 1758 Varazdin became the capital of Croatia, although the region was still under the the control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Most of the town was destroyed in a fire in 1776 and, as a result, the capital was moved to Zagreb. Still, by the 19th century the town was rebuilt and once again became an economic hub. We journeyed to Varazdin to visit the castle and its famed "Old Town"

Varazdin Bus StationDefensive WallEarly one Saturday morning we cabbed it to the Zagreb main bus station and hopped a Flix bus for the one-hour ride to Varazdin. The bus station is located just several block south of Varazdin's Old Town. However, rather than entering the Old Town at its open western end, we walked parallel to the western defensive wall and then eastward to enter the Old Town at the castle. Our tour, which began at the castle (which now serves as the City Museum) and continued into the old town, is explained in the virtual tour below

Virtual Tour of Stari Grad and Old Town

Stari grad (Varaždin Castle)Snap Content

Virtual Reality Tour for VR Headsets:

QR CodeThere is also a version of this tour designed specifically for VR headsets such as Google Cardboard, and it works with both iPhone and Android devices. It may be accessed by scanning on the QR code to the left. If you are viewing this on a mobile phone, you may access the VR tour by following this link.

For iOS devices: scan QR code with your device's camera app, tap on the prompt to open Safari. Select "Allow Device Motion" and the next prompt, "Allow Access to Motion Orientation." Turn the device to landscape mode and a split screen will appear. When the screen turns white, swipe up for fullscreen mode, and place in headset. Here is a video of how to do this--it is simpler than it sounds! [The video opens in a new window--close when done to return to this page]

For Android devices: Open the camera app and use the built-in scanner to scan the QR code above. Confirm that you want to open the website, and wait for it to load--it should load in stereo view. Select the fullscreen ("X" option) from the menu at the bottom. Turn the device to landscape mode and you are ready to go. Here is a video of how to do this--it is simpler than it sounds! [The video opens in a new window--close when done to return to this page]

2 Chefs Belem: Fine Dining in Varazdin
2 Chefs BelemInterior Dining RoomWhat to do after a day of sightseeing? Well, eat of course!  Sustained only by a cafe visit to the town square during our day-long walk, we began to seek sustenance in the late afternoon, a search made more urgent by two factors 1) our bus was leaving relatively soon and 2) the restaurants we looked at in advance were either closed or hosting private affairs. Our search ended roughly where our journey began--at 2 Chefs Bedem, a restaurant just beyond the northern fortification wall. We thus had to walk the length of the old town, retracing our steps to find the restaurant. To our surprise, it was not just "any" restaurant, but a Michelin-starred one at that. The actual entrance is along the side, down a set of stairs opening onto a glass-Side Dining
          Arealined dining room (photo, lower left). That room was occupied, so we went into the inside room, which resembled a Rathskeller. This is shown in the photo to the right.  We can't quite remember what we ate other than the wonderful calamari, but it was warm and tasty, if tinged with anxiety from waiting for the food with the bus departure hanging over our heads. And very reasonably priced. The photo at the left shows the front of the restaurant and, if you look closely, you will see the Michelin Awards from 2018 to the present. Sated, we hurried to the bus for our return to Zagreb.

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