Catalans Abroad

Anna Danés


The secret city

Anna Danés is from Olot. She left Catalonia more than 10 years ago and first moved to Fargo (USA). Now she lives in Zagreb (Croatia) and is an entrepreneur.
Why did you leave Catalonia?
Love, I left Catalonia more than 10 years ago and moved to Fargo, USA where my boyfriend was studying.
Why did you choose Croatia?
We were looking for a place to live. We looked around many cities but nothing fitted. I had worked with two people from Croatia and we decided to visit them and give Zagreb a chance. After just three weeks it felt like the right place because people have a lot of energy, they want to get things right and there is a strong sense of community and care for public space, plus it has many film festivals!
How long have you lived there?
For one and a half years.
Are you happy with the job opportunities you found there?
I have a company in Spain and I work online so I have not looked. Unemployment here is pretty bad. A lot of young people leave Croatia to work in Germany and other European countries. Some come back charged with new ideas and implement them here. They are the ones bringing new initiatives.
What do you think is the best thing about living in Zagreb?
The quality of life. The city has less than one million inhabitants so it is big enough that you have a little bit of everything but it doesn't feel like a big metropolis. The city is full of parks and the mountains are close. I live in the center and I can hop on a bus and in 20 minutes I am on the ski slopes!
What do you consider the highlights for a first visit?
Zagreb is a city with secrets, all the best things in the city are hidden: the nice cafes, the courtyards, the sculptures, the amazing architecture... Zagreb needs time. If you are here for only a weekend, relax and take time to stop and smell the roses. Visit the old quarter (Gornji Grad), walk along the Sava river in the sculpture park and go to the tourist information office to ask about activities.
And if visitors return?
Make sure to go to Dolac market and buy fruit from local farmers. In Croatia they cultivate lots of fruits and veggies that are no longer easy to find in Catalonia, if you are lucky you can take a trip back to your childhood just biting an apple. Perhaps walk without a map and get lost. Enjoy the amazing architecture, the balconies full of geraniums, and walk into every lane and every courtyard.
What do you miss most from home?
Definitely my friends, I would take all of them with me everywhere I go.
Do you plan to go back to Catalonia?
You never know but right now it is not in the cards.


M.Àngels Ribas

Can you recommend a place to have lunch with friends?

I always take my friends to Zrno, a yummy delicious vegetarian restaurant with local products from their own farm just outside Zagreb.

Where would you have a special dinner for two?

I would probably say Mundoaka, they use top quality produce, they create beautiful and tasty dishes, have excellent service and the best playlist in town.

When is the best time of year to plan a visit?

All year around, that is the beauty of Zagreb. In 2015 it was voted Best European Christmas destination and Advent is really amazing here. They have more than a hundred little stands where they sell Christmas products, food and mulled wine; plus six free outdoor music venues. During the summer the city is empty because everybody is at the beach, if you decide to come during the summer you can enjoy a free daily concert in the old quarter (Strossmayer) with a local band. If you don't care for music at Gradec or at Tuškanac you can watch a movie outdoors while sipping Gemišt (white wine with sparkling water). Spring and autumn are the best times to come if you are a nature lover.

What is the best kept secret about the area?

Nobody knows about Zagreb so I think the city itself is the best kept secret. To me it is the coolest and most vibrant city in Europe at the moment and nobody knows about it yet!

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