Archive for January, 2013

About 100 meters above the sea, up a steep hill, just steps, not a street, sits a boat in a backyard giving no clue as to how it could have arrived. Didn’t expect to come to Croatia to be reminded of Werner Herzog’s 1982 “Fitzcarraldo”, but there it was.

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Time to Change the Channel. And, Take Out the Trash.

After a rude ending to what certainly was a hopeful Broncos season, and guessing you didn’t really feel all that much better after watching the Golden Globe Awards, we present an opportunity to learn a little more about life…somewhere besides Denver. Here are some questions, no doubt on someone’s mind or laptop, about some of the day-to-day stuff of living in a new country, if only for a few months. If you are “vacationing” in a new country, things could be entirely different.

“Where does the trash go?” Good question. Ultimately, I don’t know. But being Americans used to our highly disposable lifestyle, most days see a need to take something out of the apartment. And, the system is more or less the same in France, Italy and, now, Croatia. It seems they didn’t think to build in trash rooms or trash chutes in most of these medieval structures where people now live. Including us. Nor, did they put in alleys filled with dumpsters for periodic diving and pick-up. But, they did come up with a system.

One of the first things you do after moving in, and accumulating some refuse, is determine where to take it. It will be, at least, down the steps and out the front door and, likely, down the street to a bunch of little dumpsters tucked in to the edge of the narrow road leaving just enough room for a car to go by. Or the small truck that comes every single day to take away the deposits. And, that little group of little dumpsters often includes specific labels for re-cycling so that you make sure the real “trash” doesn’t fall in with wine bottles or plastic. Everybody re-cycles here. What a concept!

Then, if you are lucky, that little truck that comes every day might just drive by you as you make your way to the dumping bins. They stop. A guy leans out the window and yells something at you in Croatian which must roughly translate into “Hey, you, tourist person, why don’t you try your luck and see if you can toss that obvious plastic bag of trash directly into the back of this little working truck?” All much to the amusement of the regular bunch of local wags holding court at the caffe’ bar you walk by every day. That’s how the trash works.

“What do you buy at the grocery store?” To which I might reply, “Well, what do you buy at the grocery store?” First of all, the stores are small, but well-stocked and efficient little bastions of the supply chain here. The clerks, all women, prim and a bit stern in their work uniforms. But then you smile, try to converse with them and they smile and over the days become friendly enough…but not too much. And, they’ll help as best as possible because some of the labels can be a bit confusing. Pictures help.

But, you can get just about everything you need. Including beer, wine or Slivovitz. You are unlikely, though, to find much, if any, fresh meat or fish and almost no produce. The culture here simply says that fresh fish is at the daily fish market in the center of the city. Fresh meat is at one of the many butcher shops everywhere, or surrounding the huge green market, which is, of course, where you get your produce. And those extra market trips are the experience you should want to have. Don’t forget to stop by the bakery!

“What’s on TV?” We are still trying to figure that out. There are a lot of channels, but just like in Denver, more channels do not necessarily beget more quality choices. Without the big deal cable subscription, your general resident French television offering included only French channels. In Italy, only Italian channels. (Actually, and especially watching news channels in those countries, you can learn some of the language more easily.) Here in Croatia, it’s trickier. There are some English channels with Croatian subtitles which are not what I would call “easy to read”. There are certainly some channels coming down from Zagreb, even the local news and weather. And, there are some Italian channels including one featuring a highly dramatized version of a game show with contestants trying to guess which Italian-region-labeled box holds their €500,000, if not their life story. We also have CNN International, the one without Wolf Blitzer, but with Richard Quest, which is a good thing.

And, there are sports. Just like in Denver, you can watch plenty of volleyball, team handball, water polo, cross-country ski racing, ski jumping, some basketball, football (soccer), billiards, snooker, fusbol and darts. Yes. Fusbol and darts. Exciting stuff? Fusbol, by the way is apparently best viewed from the overhead camera. And, the dart competition can get dangerously heated.

Well, never mind. The real national sport of Croatia, as declared here at Denver by the Slice is coffee drinking. More on that later. Bullseye!

We’ve had lots of requests to show what Croatian food looks like. Well, here’s your beans and weenies…along with our prediction that the Broncos will win today. Still haven’t seen a jersey on the streets. (Iphone photo Diane Huntress)

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Learn from abroad! LoDo parking could at least be more fun if all the cars were small; parking on the sidewalk is allowed; and double parking with occasional horn honking is permitted. Works here!

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And, late in the afternoon on a January day in Croatia, the Adriatic just to the right of this fine promenade was just as smooth as the walk you see.

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The “Blue Tree”. Public art in Split by local sculptor Vasko Lipovac. One local legend holds that a small blue bear inhabited the tree years ago, then grew very large and went missing.

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After a quick trip through the fish market for a slice of Gof (Amberjack) so fresh it jumped into its own plastic bag, the daily open-air market easily filled today’s shopping list of carrots, broccoli, garlic, herbs, bread and olives. Could have bought a cow, too!

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