So about a week ago we hopped on a plane from Santorini to Croatia(with a quick detour to Athens for a whizz round the city) and landed Monday night in Zagreb, Northern Croatia.
We managed to meet a New Zealander at Athens’ Airport who was WONDERFUL. She was married to a Croatian, and they gave us a lift to our hotel on the outskirts of Zagreb and helped with the weird mix-up with our bags at the airport. (Note to all: Croatia Airlines are in their own little world where nothing is as straightforward as it seems…)
Now Croatia is a small country of roughly 4 million people, similar to New Zealand. It turns out that it is also absolutely stunning like New Zealand and is my new potential home-away-from-home. It is much, much older though, and we’ve wandered through medieval towns, Roman ruins, Byzantine churches, monasteries and Venetian fishing villages in our quick tour of the country so far. We’ve driven through mountain ranges, open plains, green forest filled viaducts, five-kilometer long tunnels, along beautiful coastlines, and through areas that look as dry as Greece.
Croatia has a rather mixed history. There is a massive German and Italian influence throughout the country - from food, language, architecture to everyday life. Before the violent 1991 separation from Yugoslovia Croatia had been ruled by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Hungarians, Venetians and controlled by Nazi Germany in World War II. While this has created a strong national pride amongst the Croat people, these have all left an indelible mark on the country.
I remember taking a university paper that focused on politics in conflict-torn countries, and Yugoslavia’s fall being a key topic. Like everything else I learnt at uni, it seems to have left my brain once I finished, and like every other country I’ve travelled to, I want to learn it all again! I feel a round of Croat/Yugoslav history books coming on when I get home, but while here, there seems to be very little sign of the violence of the early 90’s. Croatia seems to be booming in the tourism industry, though I am yet to work out what the main industry is here.
Anyway, I think I’ll write about the towns separately – Porec, Rovinj, Pula and Zagreb deserve their own posts! We’re staying on the island of Hvar tonight, and head to Dubrovnik ‘Pearl of the Adriatic Sea’ on Monday. Athens on Thursday, and hopefully a post on our lunch trip to Venice – OH THE EXCITEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE EUROPE!!!!!! AND EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!!!!! AND TRAVELLING!!!!!!!!!!!
Love y’all, peace out and big hugs from a befreckled me.