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)
Tell us about the top five places you’ve always wanted to visit
Rome, Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Kotor, San Francisco and New York. Those are places where I’ve lived wonderful times. In Rome, Zagreb Dubrovnik and Kotor I had the most moving experiences. In the US I worked, had a lot of fun, and found great friends I would like to go back sometime to remember and enjoy again the wonders of the cities that left a deep trace on my life. As for places I never visited before, I have no preferences. I always have gone where life has led me. I have no wish list. By now I can’t travel, so I’m happy with my walks across the city and occasional outings with my friends to the surroundings where there are beautiful forests and mountains, because we are very close to the Pyrenees.
It turns out that your neighbor on the plane/bus/train (or the person sitting at the next table at the coffee shop) is a very, very chatty tourist. Do you try to switch seats, go for a non-committal brief small talk, or make this person your new best friend?
It have been so long since I traveled last time out of my city! I really miss being in that situation: sitting in my seat in an airplane with time ahead, a book in my hands and the perspective of a vacation far away.
So I have to imagine that an unknown traveler next to me won’t let me read because he or she wants to talk with me. What would I do? It depends on the subject of the chat. If the other person is too nosy and wants to know too much about me I would dismiss politely the conversation. I’m not inclined to talk about me to strangers. If there is a civilized conversation about, lets say, our destination or some cultural aspect of our trip or something similar I guess I would answer out of courtesy and probably I would enjoy the conversation. One never knows. Maybe the chatty person is a very interesting character or a funny person that can make you laugh.
Sometimes conversations during a trip are very useful. I remember during the Balkans War I had to go to Zagreb (Croatia) by train from Vienna (Austria) because there were no planes. The air space was closed. I was a young reporter unexperienced and I found in my compartment a seasoned correspondent from Sweden. We spent the whole trip talking about how to do our job. She told me about her difficulties and how she managed to make her reports and keep herself safe. I learned a lot from her in those few hours we were together.
In the trip back, I was almost the only one civilian in the train and I spent a lot of time talking with the staff, listening to their war stories.
First time I went to the States I was pretty lost. Alone, with a poor knowledge of the language, going to the unknown. My destination was St. Louis, Missouri. I found a girl in the plane very worried because of the floods of the Mississippi. She began to talk to me about her family farm and the floods. She immediately noticed I was a stranger and helped me when we arrived to the airport. I was so grateful!
I guess I’ve been lucky because I don’t remember being bothered by a nasty chatty traveler. I always found very nice people.
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
If you could split your time evenly between two places, and two places only, which would these be?
Probably Zagreb (Croatia) and San Francisco (US). Both cities bring good memories to me. Zagreb is the city where my parents met, get married and started our family. Its a beautiful little central european capital in which everything in the historical center is so familiar and lovely to me. I enjoy wandering in its streets and quarters. I love the place and its people. Besides it’s a great HQ to take trips to visit the other cities of Croatia and its magnificent coast.
San Francisco was the city where I felt more free and happy . I had a great time living and working there. I loved the city its surroundings, the nature, the people, everything.
But necessity has tied me up to Pamplona, Spain, which is also a beautiful but small city. Being realistic my tale is of one city, the city of the running of the bulls, but also an important city in the Way of st. James or Camino de Santiago, with a lot of history on it. A little conflictive but nice.
Luke is a journalist, 36 years old, 6 feet 5”, fit, dark hair, dark eyebrows, black eyes, charming smile. Handsome.
He would make a good TV anchor but he is working as a foreign correspondent for a News Agency from Europe and is always behind the cameras. And his accent would be awkward in TV. He comes from Zagreb, Croatia. Loves casual clothing and sports. Plays violin. Lives alone in an apartment in Manhattan where he has his home office.
He is a perfectionist and that brings him a lot of problems at his job. His boss, based in Germany, wants fast reports. But he’s always spending time editing and editing until he sees perfection in his writing to his boss desperation. Because his reports are good he’s keeping his job.
He has little social life. He works alone, spends too much time working and uses to run alone or play his violin in his free time. He has a good friend, Mike, another journalist, an American, who is trying to introduce him to other people and some girls but without success.
Luke is longing to know somebody, the perfect woman, have a serious relationship, get married and have a family.
Too much time alone is not good and Luke is getting depressed little by little without noticing it.
Today he is going to meet his friend Mike who works Downtown, so he is taking the subway. It’s a rush hour. The station is full. The train arrives. He suddenly feels unable to push his way to the door and stays back. The train parts without him.
A young man is playing violin. The sound fills the tunnel for a while. New people arrive. The music fades. The noise of a new train and people invades everything. Luke tries to enter the train but fails again. The violin comes back. He sits down in a bench and left a third train pass by making no effort this time.
He suddenly feels so tired he cannot move a muscle. When his cell phone rings he realises, embarrassed, that he’s in tears. It’s Mike. He’s concerned. He want’s to know where his friend is. Trapped in a subway station. Paralysed. Listening to a street violin player. Defeated. Broken. No strength left. How to explain? No need. Mike is coming to the rescue. He noticed. He’s really a good friend.
Character posts by other bloggers on 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:
It was a treasure my father kept with a lot of care. Always at hand, always safe. A box. A simple little brown sealed box looking very old and cheap. But inside it was the worthiest treasure we have at home. Soil. Soil from our homeland. Dad didn’t talk too much about it. He didn’t talk at all.
I never asked about it. When I was a little child I didn’t understand. When I began to get curious I suspected that behind that box it was a painful story.
I always respected my parents’ silence about the painful past. I think they wanted to protect us from the pain they experienced and its possible consequences on us, like bitterness or even hate. They were good Christians and we prayed every day the Lord’s prayer so we have to “forgive those who trespass against us”. And I know they did. To be able to live in peace.
Later I learned that the soil came from the grave of my uncle Tripo, my dad’s youngest brother, killed when he was only 20 years old, near Zagreb, 1944. Like my dad, he was a pacifist, but trapped in a deadly war he didn’t survive. WWII. My dad was very close to his brother. They use to talk about life and peace in times of violence and death. When Tripo died, dad had to go to recover the corpse among dozens of others killed the same day.
Too soon all that deep conversations between two close brothers were brutally interrupted by the violence. Too soon they parted for ever.
So it was a painful story behind the treasured box.
When dad died, old and exhausted, in 2001, we took the old box, opened it and spread the soil on his grave. At the end my father rested with a little piece of his homeland and close to his long ago lost brother. May them both rest in that peace they loved so much.