I’m getting quite familiar with Croatia. This month saw my fourth trip inside of a year to Zagreb, spinning at the ever lively and reliable Maraschino Bar.
Zagreb doesn’t feel like a European capital. There are one or two proud statues and a handful of historic municipal buildings dotted around, but on the whole it lacks much of the grandeur of other capitals, and feels more like a large random regional town. I’ve experienced the city in both the freezing cold (January,) and scorching heat (as early as May.) November’s temperature was a moderate 54 degrees, just slightly warmer than London.
I normally hook up for a catch-up chat with the Croatian hip-hop kingpin DJ Phat Phillie, but on this occasion we never made the connection. After spending a few hours taking advantage of the wi-fi at the Laguna Hotel, I set off by foot, armed with a decent street map, to Maraschino. The square directly outside the venue was hosting a Winter wine fair. Rather than detracting from Maraschino’s custom, this seemed to have the effect of pulling hordes of punters in once they’d sampled their wares.
The venue is technically a bar, but there can’t have been a soul not jigging up with a drink in their hand to some degree. I certainly put the work in, DJing non-stop from 11pm to 4am, the music veering in many different directions, from house to hip-hop to disco and funk, and the session was just as lively as nights at this premium party spot always are.
I was certainly feeling the strain of the five hours by the end, and at that point came another painful departure back to the airport with no sleep. There was the opportunity for an hour, but on this occasion, it really didn’t seem worth it, so I grabbed a bite of hotel breakfast as soon as it opened at six, then hit the airport bus. First flights of the day are punishing on the body, but they’re often the cheapest, and have to be taken for reasons of professional economy in these challenging times. Goddamit. After routing back to Heathrow with Croatia Airlines, I was crashed out back in my own bed by lunchtime.