Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Zagreb is a delight in every way. The city is full of charm --and coffee and gelato and all good things. How refreshing to have great lattes and no Starbucks in sight. I have seen one McDonald's, and a few U.S. stores--Yankee Candle(?!)--but for the most part it's all new to me. Yet it feels familiar, because it is so European and Mediterranean. The streets on a summer Sunday in Zagreb are almost as quiet as the old city in Jerusalem on a Saturday. Even the weekdays are mellow here, as many Croatians are vacationing on the coast. Our hotel is in the city center, and we can walk everywhere. Turn a corner and there is a beautiful church, or a museum, or a cobblestone alley, surrounded by houses with red-tiled roofs, and above you an apricot tree bursting with ripe fruit. On the road just outside the airport I saw fields of corn, which reminded me of the crops you see in China on the highway's edge or median. Space is used well here, and Zagreb is wonderfully free of litter. I wish I knew the language and I feel like I butcher the pronunciation of every word I attempt, bit I am trying to use a few words. Luckily, most people here speak English very well. My favorite store name so far is 'Pizza Cut Duck'--I might have expected that on a t-shirt in China, but it seemed odd here. Today I learned that "Pizza Cut" is essentially a take-out pizzeria--a quick place to get a slice. But fast food is not the M.O. here. Take-out coffee can be found, but beware if you sit down and think you could have dinner in under an hour. It could be 20 minutes before you get a menu. Relax, you are in Croatia. More than a few students have said "We have it all wrong in the U.S.; people are laid back here, enjoying a coffee or a drink with friends. No one seems rushed." We have had a very friendly reception and the program is off to a great start.