Why would I want to return to a country full of grumpy people that don’t smile at you, don’t have a sense of humour and who really don’t know how to have fun?!
It’s a conundrum.
In defence of Croatia as a whole, it really does have some spectacular scenery like Plitvice, clean water at Gacka, clear turquoise sea in Makarska and beyond, great cuisine made of local, natural products and reasonable prices compared with the rest of the EU. But then there’s the thing of the people again…
This morning I went for a run as I do regularly. I like to go in the morning because you see the city waking up, people trudging to work, waiting on public transport and going through the motions of earning a living. Fresh pastry smells reach out at you from the bakeries and men stare at you from their coffee tables on the sidewalks. I stop to ask for directions. The woman who looks forbidding in her stern, stoic manner, breaks out in a smile which stretches from ear to ear and almost laughs when I ask her the way. She giggles while she talks,
“Go on with this road. You will pass a beautiful park with a boy, how shall I say, peeing, go past that and at the end you will get to where you’re going. But can I say something more? If you just turn left, you will get to an even more beautiful park which will take you to the same place.”
We wish each other a “lovely day” and I am delighted. After my shower, it’s time to meet the crew of Dhar Media. I’ve worked with them before and I know how unfriendly this lot can be. They’re waiting for me in the foyer with,
“Why are you late?”
I glance at my phone, one minute?!
In stead they grab me, hug me, kiss me on both cheeks and laugh through it all. We get to Badel’s headquarters where the filming will be done. The morning starts with a cappuccino and a Pelinkovac Antique. This is definitely not going to be fun, I just know it! I listen to one conversation, topped by another, interrupted by another and sometimes even one person multi-tasking and talking in two directions at the same time. I keep on wondering whether a fight is going to break out, but then everyone collapses in a fit of laughter and I laugh along, much relieved, even though I didn’t understand a word.
Last time I was here, I had to suffer the likes of Davor Gobac, flirting with every woman in sight, Davor Beroš, owner of Alto Krvavica charter company with his hair flowing and rustic seadog looks, the heart-melting smile of Stipe from Krka National Park who exclaims, “The only truth is nature and love!”, the knee-paralyzing-handsome Emil Lemac, owner of Mediteraneo Diving Center and the Nino, guitarist extraordinaire at Johnny’s Place in Šibenik. There is a limit to how much a woman can take! At my age, I will take all the flattery I can get, thank you very much.
I’m sitting at an outdoor café, people-watching. This time it’s not the tinnitus in my ears but the buzzing of conversation, the families that walk by with kids running rings around parents, sexy men and women that are out on their evening stroll and loud laughter that catches my attention. And they don’t even need alcohol for all this frivolity, mainly ice cream and coffee on the tables beside me. Too many smokers, but that’s about all I have against the place.