God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Few Observations of Croatia

As we have been here all of 4 days, I have made some profound observations which I believe will hold up as time moves on. I am going to future date this entry so that it will post in a few days in the event that I don’t have the time or, maybe, the inclination to write something readable worthy—or maybe I’ll change my mind and sense that I am wrong in what I say.

  1. The people we have interacted with have, without exception, been nice. Now you may say “but they are catering to tourists so of course they are nice”. I remind you of the times that, even given that scenario, someone has been short tempered, rude or just not interested in providing service.

  1. The simplest effort on the part of a tourist to adapt to the language or the country is significantly appreciated. I have learned to say 4 things: good day, thank you, very good and yes/no. Each time I use them I’m rewarded with a genuine smile and surprise. Last night our waiter brought us coffee and whispered in my ear that it was “on the house because you are nice people.”

  1. Some drivers make Italian drivers seem tame—but only some. We have seen cars passing on the blindest of curves with a steep drop-off on the side..and, yes, we have driven the Almafi Coast.

  1. We gave one young hitch-hiking Croatian hip-hop singer a ride for a few kilometers and had some interesting conversation. One of the things he shared is still milling in my mind. Eight of his friends have been killed in drunk driving accidents in the last year. He told us drinking is a serious problem with many younger people.

  1. English is deliberately becoming the second language of Croatia. It already is widely spoken but now, beginning in the second grade, it is a mandatory part of children’s education. People who do speak it now, speak it well with little trace of accent that is found in other countries.

  1. The Croatian language is soft and easy on the ears—a sharp contrast to the vibrant, excited language of Italy. It is nice for a change--relaxing.

  1. There is more smoking here than we have seen in other countries in recent years; perhaps because it is still allowed in restaurants which does not encourage a reduction.

  1. The history here is excruciatingly convoluted—which has much to do with the conflict between people in the Balkans. Coming from a country with little history, it is difficult to absorb the centuries that have preceded this one in this land. It is true that all countries in Europe have evolved over centuries with multiple rulers, coalitions, wars etc, but it seems that this is even more so in these countries.

  1. There is a difference between Croatian and Dalmatian thought and food. I haven’t quite figured it out yet but have been corrected when I have used them interchangeably. Clearly it is a part of the history mentioned above. Tonight we are eating with a man whom I think can delineate the differences for me. I’ll let you know.

OK, I now have the answer. Dalmatian food is prepared more simply, with olive oil and allowing natural flavors to predominate. Croatian foods rely more on spices and traditional,inland preparation—at least this is the information provided by Ivan (John) the owner of the konoba we ate at tonight. Konoba is the Dalmatian word for restaurant—not used in other parts of Croatia.

  1. People work hard here; although, our guide today in Split told us that the people of Zagreb call the people of Split lazy because they take too many breaks. She was quick to admit that they did like breaks but that they worked hard, too.

  1. The people and country seem to be leaving Tito and all that followed behind as they move forward with expectations of being allowed into the EU and NATO in two years.

  1. Croatia has much to offer and is a special country to visit. We are enjoying it—a lot.
We are missing Casey but wasn't that expected? It is nice, though, to be alone for a few days.

3 comments:

Terry (teaberry) said...

Jane, I am loving all your keen observations insights. I am so glad you and Ken are enjoying your visit. It must be hard to be away from Casey, but I'll bet he's having a great time doing what he's doing, too.

Enjoy the rest of your travels. Croatia is a really neat place.

Pokey jo said...

I read your beautifully written post with my early morning cup of coffee. Your entry here and the previous are a joy to read! I am enamored by your photo of Plitvice Lakes National Park, it makes me imagine a fairyland....stunning photo Jane.
Your posts about Croatia are bringing alive a country that (embarrassingly) I know little about. Now I have a hunger to visit!
I'm such a fan of your blog. You must write a book one day!

janie said...

Thanks for all your observations and insight. I wondered about the language and how hard it would be to travel there.