You know that the mainstream tourist industry isn't pushing a particular country when you can't find the language in the multi-lingual European phrase book. "And what language do you speak in Croatia?", I ask the friendly information helper in Zagreb. "Croatian" she replies.That simple eh?.You can also tell, when all the trains in Italy going to Italian destinations are full, yet getting a ride on the Budapest Special is as easy as falling off a log, or in this case, a web log.
For a large part of my life, I has this impression that people in the old Eastern Bloc countries of which Croatia as part, were dour people who dressed in grey and went round with sour looking faces. I suppose that came with working 15 hours a day in a salt mine or building nuclear weapons guarded by secret service agents packing kaleshnakovs or the 1970's equivalent whilst taking notes on the performance of each of the workers.While that might well have been the case then, (it must have been, our government told us so), it is certainly not the case now. Fashion retailing seems to be the main industry, and by what is to be seen on the Zagreb city streets, it is a great success story.
Fashion and shoe shops line the streets with neither nuclear contaminated overalls nor salt encrusted work boots in sight.The young people are right into fashion with many dressed to the nines whilst sipping a drink in the many cafes and pubs that line the city streets. This is especially true in "Upper Town" where there are dozens of such establishments with patrons enjoying the alfresco atmosphere adjacent to historic buildings.Whilst the accommodation was extremely expensive for what you get, the food is relatively cheap - and good, if what we experienced is indicative of all eating establishments.
Ironically, one of the meals was Indian, of the sun continent variety. One of the best Indian meals I have ever had, with a few drinks thrown in, all for under 200 kone or under $AU50 for my wife, Brenda and I. Our lunch today was more Croatian food - grilled veal with Croatian salad, bread, chips (not Croatian, I know) and mineral water - all for 99 kone. We couldn't eat another thing, well, not for another half hour at least.Admittedly, this was after Brenda insisted on buying half a kilo of strawberries, when I thought half of that would suffice. She then forced me to eat the bloody things.
And this was not to mention the apple that each of us had purchased from the very same produce market that the aforementioned strawberries were purchased and duly eaten.Good food aside, the other things that struck me about Croatia was the friendliness of the people (even the immigration officials !!) and the fact that most of them spoke English.And I thought I was going to have to make myself understood by people who had just been working 15 hours in a salt mine. I am very glad that was not the case. Our only regret was that our schedule only allowed for a single day visit. I'm sure I could have found a salt mine, given the time.
.Raymond Strachan loves life and tries to give it 110% at least 91% of the time. A quick look at the calculator will comfirm a 100% total. He has an off centre view on just about anything as can be seen in his travel blog, http://www.birthdayinparis.com.
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By: Raymond Strachan