Roughly 800,000 people live in Zagreb. On Saturday mornings, nearly every one of those people converges on a few square blocks in the center of the city for a ritual called spica (pronounced shpeetzah). The ritual requires that you shop at dolac, the big greenmarket, and meet your friends at one of the zillion cafes for coffee. You will dress up for this, and possibly get your hair done as well. You might also do some shopping for clothes, shoes, or whatever catches your eyes in the stores. You will probably hang out at the main square, taking part in whatever festival is going on or maybe just waiting for your tram. Then you go home and have a big midafternoon lunch with your whole family.
I live right smack in the middle of this. I wish I could convey with words the crowds and bustle, the way people chat with their usual purveyors at the market, the rumble of ten thousand conversations going on at once, the calls of friends greeting each other. There is no equivalent to this in the US, and I haven't seen the like elsewhere in Europe. I imagine it's a much larger version of what market days must have been like in medieval times.
I have some photos from this morning. You can click on them to see them big.
Here you see the flower sellers. That's my building on the left. My door is between two of those pillars.
Looking down the stairs from the upper level of dolac, past the flower sellers, to the main square. You can see a blue tram in the background. Again, the tall grayish building on the right is mine. Look at those crowds! They're nonstop from early morning until 2ish on Saturdays.
The main square. Nominally, the booths are set up in celebration of St. Martin's Day. But really they're an excuse to have an event in the square. There's a stage on the right, where children were doing folk dancing. You can see some adults in traditional costumes waiting their turn. I think folk dancing is a popular thing here. I see it a lot.
Another shot of Flower Square. Thousands of cafe tables, and every one of them is occupied.
Spica is one of the many things I miss about Zagreb when I'm not here.