There are exceptions, of course. The young folks at Daily Fresh this morning were quite pleasant and seemed to have good senses of humor. But as I was walking down the avenue, from the main square (trg in Croatian - take THAT, spell check!) to the train station, I walked past one woman whose look translated as, "what are YOU doing here, you fuckin' fuck?", and another who pressed her lips togeher and shook her head as I walked by, as if she KNEW there were times when I returned my library book late and forgiveness of the debt - indeed, even payment of the debt - would never remove the blight I had visited on the world just by being here.
These encounters are common here in Croatia, and even more common in Bosnia. Perhaps Balkan folks are just kind of . . . curdled. Perhaps it is the result of the troubles they have endured in the last three decades. It isn't only a generational thing: I was sneered at by a clerk in a bakery in Sarajevo.
Regardless, these encounters make the good encounters much more satisfying, like working up a serious thirst before slaking it. The van driver who took me from Plitvice back to Zagreb - who resembled George Clooney in profile, by the way - was great fun as he explained places we were passing and complained about other drivers in his rudimentary English. He showed me a picture of his family, and as he referred to his wife or girlfriend he called her, with unself-conscious sincerity, his "darling."
The architecture oozes Zagreb's long and difficult history, the cafes are comfortable aeries to watch people move through their lives. But I cant say that I'm getting much in the way of warm fuzzies. And let's not even start with the weirdness at the Catholic cathedral yesterday (Jesus is apparently deeply offended by the appearance of womens' deltoids.). But the grilled calamari with marigolds made it all mostly worthwhile, except for this morning's sourpusses. Tomorrow, off to Belgrade, Serbia.
Location:Pavla Radića,City of Zagreb,Croatia