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Monday, November 4, 2013

Croatian Obsessions

This afternoon I was talking to a Croatian colleague who'd just returned from Vienna--less than a 4 hour drive from here. Her boyfriend lives there so she goes often. She likes Vienna, but complained because there aren't enough cafes.


So this brings me to a discussion of three of Croatia's biggest obsessions. The country has other obsessions, too, like sports in general. The local men are particularly taken with dressing in track suits, as if they might at any time decide to participate in a competitive event. The manbags they also like to wear detract from that image, however. Croatians are passionate about wine and rakija (brandy), about local customs, about avoiding standing in line whenever possible (and scowling when they can't avoid the lines). With good reason, they love to share their country. I'm thrilled to see the number of bookshops, too.

But three things all Croatians seem to love are shoes, bakeries, and cafe-bars (the kind that serve coffee and beer). Consider this view from my living room:

From left to right: clothing, bakery, shoes (mostly obscured by window frame), shoes, cafe (with another cafe 2 floors above it).

Now, I'm right in the center of the city, so my situation is a little extreme, But it's no exaggeration to say that within a 2 block radius of my apartment are probably 15 shoe stores, 30 bakeries, and at least 100 cafes.

Shoes, bakeries, cafes. I bet Zagreb has more of those per capita than anyplace on earth. And probably one of the reasons I love Zagreb so much is that I'm awfully fond of those three things myself.

What are your local obsessions?

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