When it comes to food, globalization has a peculiar side effect. The more universal we become, the stronger our need to discover the local. Burgers and pastas may have swept the world, but when we travel, we look for what is authentic. Traditional food is among the greatest appeals of a destination. And these delicacies thrive on the discovery of ancient recipes concocted with local ingredients.
There are some cities that seem to be defined by a guiding artistic angel. For instance, it is nearly impossible to visit Barcelona and not to come across Gaudí. The same might be said about Scottish Art Nouveau architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh. When his native Glasgow became the 1990 European City of Culture, Mackintosh’s art and legacy were rediscovered. Now a visit to Glasgow goes hand in hand with admiring his public art.
There may not be many virgin territories left. But there are places that reinvent themselves every few decades. The result? Visiting them feels like stepping into a new world. One such destination in Croatia is the city of Rijeka. This industrial and cultural jewel of the North Adriatic has a rich history and a vibrant buzz. It is home to 130,000 residents, but still an uncharted territory for foreign travelers.
In the last couple of years, Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, has joined the ranks of Europe’s most popular cities to visit. And, it is the way Zagreb lives outdoors that makes travelers fall for it. It could be a simple pleasure of lounging at a city park and dining alfresco, or joining a buzzier city strip with festivals rolling in all year round. But what Zagreb separates the city from other “urban” areas is its proximity to the Medvednica Nature Park, just north of the center: a perfect spot for adventurers.
Croats are a cheerful bunch. They love to party and they do so very often. But if you mix them with other nationals, they are hardly the life and soul of the party.
How can this be?
It’s simple. Croatian people party to bond with people they are already close with. They almost never throw or attend a bash to meet someone new.
In a room full of strangers, a Croat feels out of place, no matter how great the atmosphere is. We are not taught to small talk. And unless we arrive with our own crowd, we’ll probably stand in a corner and look aloof.
Croats think of themselves as touchy-feely kind of people, but I never hug and kiss so many strangers as when I am spending time in London.
Is there something weird going on with the tactile Croats or the reserved Brits?
Not really. For the most part, we can still trust these stereotypes. We only need to examine how body language differs in these two cultures. Namely, why Croats rarely kiss their closest friends. And why, on the other hand, the Brits peck a stranger’s cheek even before you get a word in edgewise.
English may be the most idiomatic of languages, but it’s quite uncomplicated for expressing social closeness or distance. The so called t-v distinction, the sociolinguistic term which refers to second person singular and plural pronouns (as in the French tu and vous), doesn’t even exist in grammar. All you get is ‘you’ in both cases and you don’t even have to worry about different verb endings. Expressing familiarity or politeness boils down to calling someone by their first or last name.
If there was an index to calculate a country’s inventiveness gene, Croatia would rank extremely high. This small country of no more than 4.5 million people has advanced the world in all major spheres of life. Croatian inventors have dreamed up ingenious abstract concepts and have also created hands-on solutions that we use in everyday life.
Zagreb's official colour is blue, but after a short walk through the city, you'll be dazzled by green. Lush parks and leafy squares pop around every corner, and streets, even those busy with traffic, are lined with trees.
Once overlooked by tourists heading for the more fashionable coast, it is now becoming a must-visit on the Central European circuit. Leading local blogger Andrea Pisac, from the award-winning blog Zagreb Honestly, tells us a little more about the changes in her city and the impact of tourism on December 19, 2016.
The rolling hills of Medimurje are said to be one of the best white wine growing regions in Europe. The indigenous variety is called pušipel, but the locally grown chardonnay, pinot gris, gewurztraminer, sauvignon blanc and moscato capture the uniqueness of the sandy soil and its blend of minerals.
The southern half of the Croatian coast—Dalmatia—has become a magnet for Hollywood A-listers and chart-topping singers. And since the Game of Thrones series, masses of tourists wander the spectacular Dubrovnik Old Town in search of King’s Landing. It’s hard to say which came first: Hollywood to Croatia or Hollywood-ization of Croatia.
English speakers are often baffled with the tempo and mood of the Croatian language. Even when they master the complex word declinations and even worse verb conjugations, they stop short at the feelings level.
Imperatives are most puzzling. Where English uses sweet and languid prelude to direct or demand, Croatian is quick and almost abrupt. It’s hard to even count the number of times the English got their feelings hurt when hearing the imperative verb tense in Croatian.
With a flourishing street-art scene, a new wave of design pop-ups, and eye-catching museums, Croatia’s capital city should appeal to any art lover.
If you’re the sort of person who dives into a new place through food and drink, there’s a thing or two you should know about Zagreb cafés.
Kafić, Croatian for café, is a go-to place for drinks of all sorts. With their morning to midnight concept, they’re surprisingly avant guard with their drinks schedule. Coffee is served until wee hours just as spirits, like Croatian rakija, flow freely at the start of the day.