Smart people say that the best things in life are free. If we talk about Hrelić, we can almost draw a parallel and conclude that the best things there are – well, almost free.
A sunny Sunday morning before performing our civic duties was ideal for a stroll around Jakuševac, better known as Hrelić (or Hrelja ;). Every Zagrebian knows very well what I’m talking about – this fair boasts a 45-year history and I believe there are few that haven’t taken a walk there at least once. At Hrelić you can find literally EVERYTHING, only if you’re in the right mood to snoop around a bit and if you’re prone to digging through loads of ‘junk’ to find actual treasure. So let’s begin.
First of all, the atmosphere is very relaxed and cheerful. I prefer starting my stroll off with a macchiato in one of the cafes where really delicious coffee costs seven kuna. The crowd is eclectic and, speaking in literary terms, quite postmodern. The ‘high’ and the ‘low’ intertwine beautifully, and there you can meet actresses (they’re crazy about vintage, I know that first hand), rock stars, a retired university professor, Roma women who breastfeed their little heirs during breaks, in the midst of all that commotion. (One time, one of them was either self-deprecating or just funny, so she yelled – Everything for ten kuna, you can have the little one for twenty! I swear.) The sound background is equally miscellaneous –at one stand an older gentleman is playing Eric Clapton; twenty meters down, you can hear the bellowing of Jelena Karleuša.
What will you buy at Hrelić and how much money do you need for shopping? You’d probably find all sorts of things except the thing you came there for, and with 200 kuna, you can be a total boss because the prices are truly ridiculous. Of course, never in your wildest dreams would you buy 99 percent of that stuff, but if you look more carefully… I found an amazing rabbit fur coat (by an Austrian furrier – I googled it later) for 75 kuna (in letters: seventy-five) kuna!
A lady was selling Missoni’s sweater for 200 kuna, but it was too big for me. A friend of mine recently bought a Launier cosmetic pouch for 15 kuna (this British company is the favourite brand of Queen Elizabeth, and you can shop the pouches for about 1000 pounds on sales). A colleague of mine once bought a water-colour painting for 20 kuna that he later sold for 3000 euro. Sellers usually have no idea what they have in their possession and what the market value of their things is, so the prices can be hilarious.
But it’s not all in the trade… Hrelić guarantees a good time: it will cheer you up and you’ll get to see life flowing at a slow pace, as Zvonko Bogdan would say, and all its bright colours. You just might luck out, like I did today, and come across a gregarious trumpet gang who spontaneously held a small live performance amid all that junk.
Whatever luck you may have and whatever you buy, this little stroll (my pedometer says that I walked for 6 km, and I came by car) will make you good and hungry before Sunday lunch.
Cheers and enjoy!
Photos: Matea Roščić
Translation: Nevena Erak