Josip Jelačić statue in Zagreb (Croatia)
A view of the Cathedral of Zagreb (Croatia)
St. Mark church, Zagreb (Croatia)
Josip Jelačić statue in Zagreb (Croatia)
A view of the Cathedral of Zagreb (Croatia)
St. Mark church, Zagreb (Croatia)
This post is going to be a little reiterating, but today’s prompt has remind me my recent visit to the house and atelier of the Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović in Zagreb.
There were beautiful sculptures in bronze and stone finished into the house along with furniture made by him, and also sketches and studies of pieces for larger monuments in the garden and the atelier. It was very interesting to see all this works of art and also to see the house in which he lived since 1920 till 1942, with his beautiful dinning room and his characteristic ceramic stoves.
In the picture, a study of a hand for a large statue and a sketch for a relief in the atelier
I’m not reticent to speak
about my last trip
because it was quite a treat.
(Here you can see me sailing on a boat to watch the dolphins close to the Kornati Islands in Croatia).
I have been in Croatia the past month and I have followed there the final of the World Cup and the welcoming to the football team that lost the final but won the respect of many and came back being the second best team of the championship.
The Croatians celebrated the silver medal as if they were the champions. I was in a bar in Senj, My mom’s home town, watching the final against France. Our players fought till the end despite the score was devastating: 4-2.
To my surprise, all the people took it immediately for the positive side, and begun to celebrate the silver as a big achievement with great joy. I thought in what would happen if that would happen to Spain: Something like that would probably provoke bitter critiques to the trainer and maybe some anger above all among the commentators and some of the hooligans.
Instead, we were really proud of our guys. Much more when the prize for the best player of the championship went to our midfielder Luka Modrić.
While we were watching the ceremony of the imposition of the medals under the rain in Moscow we decided to give our own medal in our sunny town to our waiter, who had been serving drinks during the match without rest. And like this, the jokes and cheers went on and on.
I went to Zagreb, the capital of the country, next day. It was impressive. everybody dressed in the colours of the team. Eight hours of feast with the players and the trainer, all the streets and the main square full of people, and a special connection among the players and the people. They sang the same songs at one voice. They celebrated a big achievement with great joy.
We were a small country ( 4,5 million people) and had reached the second place in the World Cup.
And the best of all, in such a big crowd, ( they estimated half a million people in a city of one million) not a single incident. I’m glad I was there those days.
In the picture, celebrating the final when the match was already lost
Yesterday I visited the Croatian National Park of the Plitvice Lakes. It was quite a challenge for me, because I have some problems with my balance and I need a walker which was impossible to use it on the irregular paths of the park.
I have a crutch for these cases but it was also difficult to use it there, so under my own risk I decided to venture myself without the walker or the crutch, but with the help of the arm of a good friend and leaning in the railings that you can find in some places along the way thru the forest, the shore of the lakes and the proximity of the many waterfalls you can find there. I had to be extra careful to avoid a fall.
The effort was worth it. I/m glad to have been able to spend the day in that place.
if I would’t dare leave behind my walker and my crutches I would not be able to see and take pictures of these marvels of Nature.
I can sense the blue glance of my dad very close to me while I’m sailing thru the sea of his childhood.
I’m looking at the green and white islands around us and listening to the ancient stories that the old sailor is telling me about these magic places. There is an Island with the shape of a heart in the middle of our trip. A big heart like it was my dad’s.
The breeze bring my thoughts away. Or maybe is pushing them to the deepest of my soul. Yes. That is it. Images from my parents being happy are mixed with this Symphony of blue that was the landscape of their youth. I look for silence while I hear the seagulls and look at the dolphins jumping cheerfully.
I have never been here before, but somehow all this is familiar to me and, in a way, mine. My arrivals to this land and this sea are in fact a way back home. Here I feel safe and happy. Like when I was near mom and dad. Maybe because their presence here is so powerful and is a reminder of the years they were young and happy together.
I’m trying to reach a milestone in my life by writing a book, something I have never done before.
I had already written a chapter in a collective book about Europe between two Revolutions (1917-1989) when I was a teacher at the University and many articles for the books of the year issued by my newspaper when I was a reporter. But I have never tried something by myself, like this one.
I have begun with lots of energy, and great expectations, The story was flowing nicely and the structure of the chapters I had made was working well. But little by little, my project has began to get a little complicated and now I’m in a sort of crisis of inspiration.
I’m about to go to Croatia for a month, where I’m going to visit, among other places, some of the scenarios where the story of my book takes place. I hope this would help me to return to the focusing I have almost lost and take back my inspiration.
I’m really excited with this trip and I’m sure it will help me in many ways, not only with the book.
In a few days I’m going to travel to Croatia and the remembrances of my last trip are particularly vivid. It was maybe 14 or 15 years ago. My mom was getting very old but she was in good health. So she began to say frequently: “I don’t want to die without have seen my homeland once more.”
Back then, I was suffering a deep depression and working hard as a reporter in a newspaper, so I asked my brother and my sisters if they could go with mom to Croatia but no one seemed ready to go with her.
That year, for Christmas, there was a big party at my newspaper I didn’t go because I was too depressed. But there was a raffle among all the workers present or not. And I won the best prize: a trip for two during one week to Cuba. Sun, the Caribbean beaches… But again, I was too depressed to claim my prize. Meanwhile my mom continued saying: “I don’t want to die without seen my homeland once more and take a walk on the streets of my hometown.”
In April I went to ask if my prize was available and they said of course. So I went to the travel agency and asked if I could change the travel to Cuba to one to Croatia and they said no problem. Even more, because Croatia it was nearer than Cuba (I live in Spain) we could stay 15 days instead of one week.
And certainly in July, I forgot about my depression and took my mom to Croatia. We had a wonderful time together. We went to Senj, her hometown and to Dubrovnik. She told me incredible stories, while we were watching the ships navigate among the islands or while we were simply staring at the stunning sunsets.
I remember being watching her while she was swimming, like a mother with her little kid, with fear because she was going too far away from the shore, but she was enjoying herself enormously. It was really a wonderful trip.
Now, I’m going back to the same places by my own, since she passed away a few months ago. But I’m sure she will be very close to me, and I will feel her lovely smile and her sweet voice, telling me the most endearing stories.
For the first time in many years I’m going to take a vacation. I’m going to Croatia where my family comes from, and I will stay there for a whole month, to visit the cities and places that are related with my parent’s life. It’s going to be a very emotional trip, since my mom passed away only a few months ago.
I’m gonna met with my cousins and my aunt Mira, who is still alive, to hear her stories about the old times. But mainly, I’m gonna take long walks by my own thru the streets of the lovely cities and by the seashore, contemplating the many and beautiful islands scattered along the coast. No hurries. I want, if is possible, to met my roots.
My trip is only two weeks away, and I’m already very nervous, thinking about what should I include in my baggage and what should I left at home. I can’t wait for the moment to check-in for my flight!
In the picture a view of the walls of Dubrovnik captured I don’t remember how many years ago
It’s tricky, but a good treat for me would be a trip to my beloved homeland, Croatia. I’m longing yo see once more its marvellous shores, its islands, its beautiful cities and towns. Here I have some old pictures from my last trip many years ago.
Meanwhile, flowers are always a good treat.
In response to The Daily Post’s photo prompt: “Treat.”
What was your favorite book as a child? Did it influence the person you are now?
Small as an elbow, cheerful as a bird, brave as the prince Marko, wise as a book, and as good as the sun. (My translation) He was Hlapić, the shoemaker apprentice, an orphan who decided to run away from his always angry master’s home. The book, written in 1913 by Ivana Brlić Mažuranić, a Croatian writer, tells the Marvellous Adventures of the Apprentice Hlapić, who goes to the world with his masters’ dog Bundaš and a little girl from a Circus he meets in his way named Gita, who wants to know what it’s like to have a mother. The little apprentice manages to rescue some peasants from a fire and helps a poor family who is about to be attacked by a burglar (the big menacing dark figure in the cover of the book). Finally he decides to bring Gita to his master’s home to introduce her to the master’s wife, a kind woman, he thinks can resemble a mother. Against all odds, he shoemaker gladly greets Hlapić and he and his wife recognise in Gita their long-lost daughter.
I liked a lot the adventures of little Hlapić, the happy end, and the drawings of the book. I Remember that I thought how lucky was I, that had mom and dad, and didn’t have need or reason to run away from home.
I don’t know if the book influenced the person I’m now. I don’t know if the tales influence so much. I learned to read Croatian with this book. This was something important for me. As an emigrant, I learned the language by oral tradition from my parents but I didn’t have the chance to study grammar or language. This was my first book. My second book in Croatian was Heidi by Johanna Spyri. Pretty difficult for me then. It was my older sister’s book. It had beautiful illustrations I loved, with beautiful paintings of the Swiss Alps.
Write an anonymous letter to someone you’re jealous of.
Impossible. I can’t write an anonymous letter on my blog. Everybody would know is mine. Besides, I have never written an anonymous. It sounds cowardly and menacing. Not my style. Last time this prompt was published I wrote about health. Now i’ll write about the possibility to travel. I would like to leave my town for a while and go visit my family abroad. Above all I would like to visit again Croatia, its islands and its marvellous historic towns where my family lives. Also I would like to go back to the US and see once more New York and San Francisco where I have enjoyed two wonderful years and have left many friends. Before I die I would like to go once at least to the Holy Land. I’m not naïf. I’m Journalist. I know how problematic it is. But I really would like to visit those places so directly related to my faith. So yeah, I’m a little jealous of the people who can travel at their will.
Do you love hot and spicy foods or do you avoid them for fear of what tomorrow might bring?
During my first trip to Croatia I was invited to a dinner the eve of Easter. We had sausages, boiled ham and a yellow sauce I thought it was mayonnaise. I thought it was a strange combination but I served a lot of sauce anyway. When I took the first generous bit confidently I realised too late that it was something different. My eyes were full of tears. I couldn’t speak. Everybody around me was looking at me, and when I recovered and asked what was that, they began to laugh. It was hren, a local kind of horseradish sauce, really hot I have never tasted before, because you couldn’t find it in Spain. I bought a jar to bring it to my parents. They were delighted. Now I love hren.
Beach, mountain, forest, or somewhere else entirely?
It has been so long since my last travel, that I only can think on get out of this city at least for a day. Where? I don’t mind. Any change would be welcome. I’m stuck in this city. I can’t leave its maze of streets. I like my city. I’m lucky it has plenty of parks and green spaces I can enjoy. It’s also in a privileged place near stunning nature spots. But for me is difficult to leave the city even to go to those places, no matter how close they are. And this situation is gonna last for a long time. I was gonna say: I’m afraid. But I’ll rather say: I hope. Or better: If that is what God wants. Because what ties me to my city this way is my mom. She needs me every day to take care of her. And I feel lucky to be able to help her to have a better quality of life now that she can’t move by herself.
I have a lot of memories of wonderful places I visited when I was free and had the means to travel. Once, I won in a raffle a trip for two to spend a week in Cuba all paid. My mom was then saying that she didn’t want to die without seen her homeland again, so I asked in the travel agency if I could change the tickets from Cuba to Croatia and they say yes. We got a trip to spend 10 days in Dubrovnik all paid (out of high season). It was great. She told me a lot of exciting stories she lived in the medioeval city during the war. I got to know her courage. We enjoyed the art, the culture, the blue mediterranean sea. We took advantage of our trip to go to Kotor Bay in Montenegro to visit my dad’s family in Kotor city and Dobrota. We had long conversations at my aunt’s orchard next to the shore, feeling the evening marine breeze. Kotor Bay is a wonderful place where you have the sea, some islands, and high mountains together. It was a great trip. I would like to go back. But I know it only will be possible without mom and then I don’t know if I will be able to overcome the emotions and the sorrow.
You have three hundred words to justify the existence of your favorite person, place, or thing. Failure to convince will result in it vanishing without a trace. Go!
Stoned walls with stunning views that fall into the blue Adriatic Sea. Walls enclosing houses, ancient and beautiful monasteries, churches and palaces. Little steep streets at the sides of the main avenue paved in marble. A seaport. No cars. No noise of traffic. You’re transported to centuries ago. Dubrovnik really doesn’t need a justification to exist. The ancient walled city has survived enduring a lot during his long existence to win a place among the wonders of this world. I have been there in summer when the tourist season is high and in winter when the city is calmer. I love the city when is not so crowded of tourists and visited by huge cruisers, because one of its charms is the quietness and the peace you experience when you cross the gates and you find the main street or Stradun, clean and bright , with its little shops in the arched doors of the houses at both sides and its monuments.
I love all those cities in the Croatian Adriatic coast that offers you art, history, a stunning nature beauty and great places to enjoy the transparent sea, the islands, the rivers and the mountains. I like its friendly people. I love the little corners you can find in them to spend time calmly enjoying a cup of coffee, a beer or a good meal or simply having a good conversation with your friends.
If you had to come up with one question, the answer to which would determine whether or not you could be friends with a person you’ve just met, what would it be? What would the right answer be?
“Have you ever been in Croatia? If the answer is “yes and I liked it very much”, I don’t know if we would become friends but I know we would have something to talk about for a while.
The same would happen with other questions to find out if the other person coincides with some of my interests: Animals, Music, the Sea, the Nature… It would be a good way to establish a conversation.
“I’m bankrupted. Would you like to have some coffee and talk with me?” If the answer is yes and the person is sober it would be a good sign. But I don’t know what would happen. Probably would end badly. The premise is a lie and I should explain that I lied because all was a kind of litmus test. Not the best way to start a friendship.
I don’t believe in friendship with a total stranger on a one question basis. I prefer the traditional way to make friends.
Quickly list five things you’d like to change in your life. Now, write a post about a day in your life once all five have been crossed off your to-do list.
there is a difference between the things you’d change in your life and things you’d just do in your life. I can’t change things as my health, but I can do things in the next five years if God gives me life, strength and I have the opportunity.
– write and publish a book
– improve my English
– go or even move to Croatia
– travel to the US
– play piano and paint watercolours
I’ve begun already to work in my book and seeing it finished and,more than that,published, would be a great relief. And also a satisfaction.
With my improved English, I would write interesting, expressive and more extensive posts in my blogs .
Moving to Croatia is an old dream. I would live in the Adriatic coast by the sea, source of inspiration and of peace of my soul
A trip to the US is something I would like to do to meet again my old friends from my years working over there in the late nineties and see once more New York and San Francisco
Finally in my to-do list I put practising two of my favorite artistic activities, so five years from now I would easily play beautiful music pieces and paint good watercolours
for this week’s challenge, bring together two of your photos into dialogue. What do they say to each other?
You’ve been given the ability to build a magical tunnel that will quickly and secretly connect your home with the location of your choice — anywhere on Earth. Where’s the other end of your tunnel?
This sounds familiar and I don’t have new ideas
Providing that this tunnel was magical and easy to dig, I would use it to visit my family and friends who are far away and enjoy the beautiful places I love, and now are out of reach for me. Therefor, I would need a two exits tunnel: one in some port of the Croatian coast and other in San Francisco, California.
With the first one I would take a boat and go visit my relatives from port to port and enjoy the beauty of the coast and its islands, towns and cities. I would go to my mom’s hometown of Senj in the North and sail all the way down to the south to pass to Montenegro and go to the Bay of Kotor where my dad was born.
With the second exit I would go to the city where I left some of my best friends, to catch up with them, have fun, enjoy the city wonders, contemplate the Bay, and have a walk in the Ocean Beach at the sunset.
If the secret tunnel only can have one exit, it would be definitely to a place by the Adriatic sea. I’m docked inland, and I miss the marine breeze in my face, the sight of the immensity and the power of the water, the roar of the waves. All these are like a balsam that opens my spirit, help me think more clearly and make me feel free.
‘Tis the season for road trips — if time and money were out of the equation, what car-based adventure would you go on? (If you don’t or can’t drive, any land-based journey counts.)
Bonus (optional): show us your itinerary by embedding a Google Map into your post!
I have worked the whole evening in my google map only to find a message that said : sorry, sharing is unavailable at this time. Please, try again later. So, no bonus at this time.
I was going to show you a nostalgic itinerary across the Croatian Adriatic Coast to visit places related to the history of my family.
I’d visit places like my mother’s hometown of Senj,
Rovinj where my father’s family has roots,
Kosljun, where our friend Franciscan Padre Mavro lived,
Split, where I have cousins,
Dubrovnik, where my uncle Ivo was killed during the war,
and Kotor, in Montenegro, my father’s hometown.
Finally I managed to share my map. Here it is (I hope)
Earlier in the course, you wrote about losing something. Today, write about finding something. For your twist, view day four’s post and today’s post as installments in a series.
Here is a link to the part I of this story
I can’t wait any more. There is no time left. The boarding time is approaching and I’m still waiting. I have my ticket with my reservation confirmed and I’m not going to be left behind. For the tenth time I go to the checking-in desk. It’s my last opportunity.
This time, the same JAT’s attendant that had rejected me nine times before, asks me now why am I so late! I can’t believe it. But I don’t have time to argue. I sigh in relief. At least I’m going to fly to Zagreb. I will be able to cover for my news agency and my newspaper the first free elections in Croatia and the political crisis in Yugoslavia.
I meet again my Spanish colleagues waiting to board the plane. We talk about our job. They are nervous because they don’t know the language and they’ll need a translator. I realise they know little about the country and the situation and less about the political parties and their leaders. I wonder how they would manage once there.
We board the plane. I’m surprised to see it’s almost empty. So the story about not enough seats for all the passengers that they told me when they sent me to the waiting list was a lie. My suspicions that I had difficulties because of my name arise again. But the important thing is that I’m on board.
During the flight they show us a propagandistic video about the wonders of Yugoslavia. Nothing about the crisis or the situations that are making news. The State is in a brink of a collapse. In the video all is idilic and wonderful.
I spend most of the time looking through the window. It’s my first trip to my homeland. I want to catch a first glimpse from the air. But it’s not my lucky day. It’s raining. I only can see grey clouds covering the landscape.
We land in Zagreb Airport. The border police officer take his time with my passport and begins to make questions about who am I, what am I going to do during my visit to the city, where will I stay, and so on. The other passengers pass quickly while I still answering questions. Finally, the officer seems satisfied and let me pass.
I go to pick up my bag. When I arrive all the luggages are already on the conveyor belt. I notice that my suitcase is not there.
Tom and Marko, my cousins, are waiting for me at the other side of a crystal wall. They are waving at me excited. We have recognised each other by photos. I’m trying to tell them by signs that I can’t go out because my luggage is lost. Tears fills my eyes. Not precisely because my lost bag. I’m deeply moved to meet my family for the first time. And now they are so close and still I can’t embrace them and speak with them because of that damn bag.
I go to reclaim my lost bag and after a lot of questions they tell me that it has gone to Belgrade with the plane.
Did they sent my bag intentionally to Belgrade? Did I lost something vital to my work in the process? How was my meeting with my family? Could I overcome the emotions and do my job?
Today, write about a loss. The twist: make this the first post in a three-post series.
1990. The first open elections in Croatia, part of the former Yugoslavia. I have been sent as a young reporter from Spain to cover the event because as a daughter of Croatians I know the language and the situation. I’m nervous. It’s my first trip to the Country. My father, a journalist too, is a dissident. He never got involved in politics but was prisoner both by the fascists and by the communists. The communists are still in power in Yugoslavia.
In my trip by bus from Pamplona to Madrid to catch a plane to Zagreb, they put the film “Missing” with Jack Lemmon. I’m not afraid, I’m realistic, but I’m certainly not in the mood for such a story.
Already in the Barajas airport of Madrid I go to check-in. Despite I’ve assured I have my reservation all right, the JAT company informs me that I don’t have a seat and I’ll be put in waiting list. I protest showing my ticket with the reservation but there is no use. I have to wait.
Meanwhile I see other people checking-in without problems. I meet two Spanish Journalists like me from a TV station. They pass whiteout problems. I begin to suspect The problem it is in my name. I approach the check-in desk and ask again about my ticket and my seat. The attendant tell me now that the ticket is all right but they had technical problems with their big plane and they only had a smaller plane so there is no room for all the passengers. So no room for me. I’m still in the waiting list.
I see how people continue checking in without problems and I get nervous and angry. I’m the only one waiting. The clock is ticking. The boarding time is approaching.
Am I going to be left behind? Is this happening because of my name? What about my reports?
To be continued in chapter two
The sound of an old Croatian song my father used to sing to my mother brings tears to my eyes even today. It’s a love song with a delicate melody and poetic words I can’t translate titled Good Evening, Marvelous. My dad had a fine tenor voice and loved to sing softly those beautiful melodies he learned in his youth. Songs written to be sung while looking at the sun sinking into the quiet Adriatic Sea in a gorgeous symphony of colors.
Oh how wonderful would be hear again that lovely voice and enjoy those joyful evenings with him singing and chatting. Those days are for ever gone. But the memories are so vivid!
No need to leave the sea to remind a second song significant to me. Is called Mediterranean, by a singer called Joan Manuel Serrat. It’s a poem about how people from the Mediterranean are. I learned to play guitar with this song. It reminds me my youth, the time spent with my friends, singing and playing, those happy days without worries.
A jump to the Ocean to find my third song very different to the previous. Take me Back To Manhattan from the musical Anything Goes. I had a lot of fun singing and dancing this song with my friends when I lived in San Francisco. We had a great time. It brings me memories of joy and laughter.
I use to sing it or humming it now and then, maybe with because I would like that the wish of the song comes true.
I know the lyrics by memory. It goes:
The more I travel, Across the gravel,
The more I sail the sea.
The more I feel convinced to the fact,
New York’s the town for me.
That crazy skyline
Is right in my line,
And when I’m far away,
I’m able to bear it for several hours
Then I brake down and say.
Take me back to manhattan,
Take me back to New York.
I’m just longing to see once more
My little home on the hundredth floor!
Can you wonder I’m gloomy?
Can you smile when i frown?
I miss the east side, the west side ,
the north side, and the south side.
So take me back to manhattan,
That dear old dirty town!
Tell us about the top five places you’ve always wanted to visit. GO!
Jerusalem. I have been in so many places around the world and I have never seen the city more directly related to my faith. I definitely would go there. And then to the nearby Bethlehem. Then maybe go to Nazareth, Jericho, Hebron… I would like to visit them taking my time, not as a part of a big pilgrimage or an organised tour but by myself wandering around if that’s possible there. Of course I would like to see places like the Western Wall, the Via Dolorosa, the Garden of Olives, the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, the basilica of the Nativity, spending all the time I’ll possibly want in each site. I would also like to talk with the locals, both Israelis and Palestinians and learn more first hand about them and their problems. That would be my top destination.
A nostalgic trip would be to the Croatian Adriatic coast. I would sail In a vessel from North to South visiting the main historic cities and the beautiful islands
The Fjords of Norway is other place I would like to know and enjoy the wonders of nature.
“Take me back to Manhattan, take me back to New York” I use to sing since I left the big apple and the States. So I would travel once more to the USA and be again in NYC and in San Francisco among other destinations.
Another nostalgic trip would be a visit to Berlin. I have been there when I was a child and the city was recently divided. I would like to know how it looks and how is the life over there nowadays
Not an easy question. I don’t know to which country I belong. Because I was born in Spain and I live in Spain that doesn’t mean I feel I’m Spanish. I was born in a Croatian family, my first language was Croatian, I learned Spanish in school and I don’t know why, I feel more Croatian than Spanish. So, related to Spain I guess I’m not patriotic. This said, you have to know I would defend Spain if someone from outside criticizes without knowledge and unjustly the country. So, I guess, some sense of love and belonging exists.
I consider Croatia my homeland. And because I have been for so long far away I idealized it in my mind and my feelings. I love Croatia with a kind of love I don’t feel for Spain. Am I patriotic? I don’t know. I’m not sure about the adjective because of the political implications. Politically I cannot be patriotic. Because although I have the citizenship I don’t live permanently in the country, so I don’t feel entitled to decide in political matters. Besides, I’m afraid of bad political patriots, the ones that for love of their country despise others. That doesn’t fit in my system of values.
I only know I love Croatia with all my heart and every second I’m far away I’m longing to se once more its shores, its islands, its cities, to listen at the familiar voices signing the songs and talking the beautiful (and difficult) language my parents taught me. I understand and I like when people talk about their countries with the same kind of love. I can listen to them talking about their places with so much interest! You can learn so much about the world!
I guess what happens to me with Spain and Croatia is the drama of many first-generation immigrants in Europe. You don’t feel you belong completely to the country you live and you don’t belong completely to the country you love. I think it’s different in the US. When I spent there two years as a journalist I felt immediately at home. I even thought seriously in staying. But family matters brought me back to Spain in no time and my little “American Dream” finished.
So here I am, a citizen of the world. Better that way, I dare to say.
More posts about patriotism in the next page:
I was a plane person, and I still am when the necessity calls if the trip is too long, but having time ahead I’ll take the train.
I became a fan of trains in a very hard situation, when I was a young reporter going to Croatia, then in the former Yugoslavia at war. The plane option was out of question because there were no flights to Zagreb so I take a train from Vienna.
UN soldiers and reporters were among the few passengers of the train. I was traveling alone, without photographer. I was nervous and scared I have to say. I met in my compartment another reporter from Norway. A veteran one. I told her about my fears. We had plenty of time to talk about the situation and she gave me good advice for my work on the field. At the end of the day I was more confident about what to do to optimize my work in my reports.
We had also time to admire the sights, from the woods of Vienna through the Austrian villages, beautiful landscapes in Austria, Slovenia and then Croatia. All green and fresh and beautiful, you couldn’t imagine there was going on something so ugly as a war over there. And then we arrived to Zagreb main station in the same center of the city.What happened next is another story.
The trip back home was also by train. I could talk with almost all my few fellow passengers going out of Croatia, all of them with very interesting stories to tell.
This is what trains mean to me: plenty of time to think, take notes, read, talk with other passengers if they are willing to do so, maybe find some interesting stories, fill your eyes with new sights and then arrive at your city of destination, not find yourself at a distant and cold airport.
Comments by other travelers:
When Mom hit 87 she began to say: I don’t want to die without seeing home once more. We didn’t have the money to travel to Croatia from Spain then, but we wanted to fulfill her will. Then suddenly something never happened to me before (never after) arrived as a gift from heaven. I won a price in a Christmas lottery consistent in a two people trip to Cuba. I asked if I could change the destination and they said yes!
So we went to Croatia that year in an unorganized trip. I hate organized trips. We just wanted to get lost. Mom wanted to see home. She is from Senj, a little town North near the port of Rijeka, close to the Croatian biggest Island, Krk. The town was leveled in WWII and most of its ancient buildings have disappeared except the castle of Nehaj. But the town is still known because of its history and its strong winds: the “senjska bura” that sweeps the sea between the Island and the mainland and in winter use to form ice in the coast. In summer the water is clean, transparent, and beautiful.
We went to Krk to the town of Punat to visit a little island inside a bay of the big Island, Kosljun. This little Island has only a franciscan monastery in it and we went there to visit a friar who was my mom’s friend from youth. Father Mavro. We went to Kosljun in a little boat named St Anton. We spent several days there. It was the most peaceful site I remember. An island only for the franciscans and their guests in a beautiful scenario. Silence, nature, the monastery and nothing more.
Krk has a lot to historic and natural places to see and enjoy. It was great.
Then we headed south to Dubrovnik, a very known medieval city because we wanted to go to Kotor, in Montenegro, were my father was born. Again, Dubrovnik is a popular touristic destination, but is great being there with time to get lost when is not the hot season and you can walk freely through the main street stradun, sit down at the Onofrio’s fountain, go to some little restaurant in one of the narrow side streets, visit the ancient pharmacy of the franciscans or the ducal palace or if you can (we couldn’t because of the age of my mom) take the steps and go up to the walls of the city that fall down to the sea and give you astonishing views. We took a boat and surrounded the walls. It was great. Then back at the hotel a “Klapa” or group of men signing folk songs sang for us in an open air dinner close to the sea. In Dubrovnik the sea was also clean and transparent and beautiful.
Finally we cross the border with Montenegro and went to Kotor another medieval city with Croatian population where my father was born, which is at the end of a beautiful bay of the same name. We were able to visit my aunt and uncle and my cousins and we went with them again to get lost in the city and enjoy the bay surrounded by high mountains, the water calm, with its little islands inside.
Finally we went back to Dubrovnik and then the last day the “klapa” sang to my mom a song dedicated to her. Her name is Anna and the Lyrics goes “Anna, my little Ana, may soul, my heart”. With That song in our hearts we went back to Spain and that was her las visit home.
I would like to come back to get lost in the Croatian Adriatic coast again by myself, visit more cities and places we were dreaming to see, and remember those days with mom.