Monday, May 15, 2006

from Zagreb: central Europe

If you have been there, you’ll recognize it instantly. The buildings, tramcars, foods, parks, people – what more can I say. Mitteleuropa: Warsaw, Vienna, Zagreb. They have more in common than anyone living there would probably want to admit.

The “other Camics” will not be arriving until late tonight and so I use the day to do some work and then to go out and get a grasp on the Zagreb Sunday. Is it more like an American Sunday or an Italian one? You tell me.

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park bench, pink chestnut tree

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park bench, markings on tree

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watching magic performed on the square

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old town, café life

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for me: krustada with cheese and cherries, capuccino, lilies of the valley

They speak a butchered Polish here in Croatia. In Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia as well. They take my language, mess with some of the words and it begins to sound like Polish with a few too many beers thrown in. A Pole can listen to a Croat and understand a lot. And conversely, I can throw together some Polish-like words and a person from here will get it.

Still, Zagreb is its own place. Even though I do tend to pick up on the similarities – the flowers sold by old women (the intense smell of lilies of the valley…no lily of the valley ever gives such powerful perfume in the States; I do not know why), the cafés filled in equal proportion with beer, coke and coffee drinkers from morning onwards, the chestnut trees, the lovers, the dreamers, the smokers, the Croats the Poles the Poles the Croats. God, it feels awfully close to home.

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I bought from her; they were fresh and she was honest.

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at the entrance to the market

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red strawberries, red bag, red umbrella, red shirt, black cloak

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she sells small amounts of lettuce

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old town, looking up

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old town, looking down

Monday afternoon we fly down for a week in Dubrovnik. Incredibly difficult to get to by land. Minutes from Bosnia-Hercegovina, significantly damaged in the conflict some fifteen years ago, it is now in a state of recovery. I’m happy to put tourist dollars into its effort to again become a favored Adriatic destination. I want to get to it before it puts itself in the league of all the other beautiful and significantly unaffordable spots along the Mediterranean coastline.

Oh, a post script to Sunday: a perfectly beautiful Mother's Day gift is to have your daughters show up to join you for dinner. And what is a Croatian dinner all about? Mine had the taste of a country that bounces between a Mediterranean culture and central Europe.

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tomatoes, mozzarella, melon

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baked cheese strukli

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