Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why I Love Croatia

My recent affinity for Bing and their unbelievably cool pictures has led me to stumble upon a picture which gave me renewed affection for a region and a country which I think is very underappreciated in this time in our world.  The region itself is the Balkans, the country Croatia, but that wasn’t even the country I saw the picture of.  It was a picture of a coastal town in Montenegro, the newest country in the Balkans, and maybe the world, having gained their independence from Serbia in 2006.  I believe that just about completes the Yugoslavian dismantling, which I am always happy to see a new chapter of, due to my opinion that Yugoslavia was one of the worst ideas for a country ever.  I might have some explaining to do to the ghost of Tito, but there are a couple reasons for this- one of them is that they were put together by the Treaty of Versailles after The Great War, I believe, and there is very little that came about from that treaty which was a good idea- the sanctions on Germany, which just led to the next war; the failed League of Nations, which was actually a good idea, just doomed to fail, and of course Yugoslavia.  Well, we have all these ethnicities hanging out here that we don’t know what to do with… Do you think they’ll mind all being smushed into one country? 
Why would you do that?
All I know is that despite my unfamiliarity with many of the current nationalities now inhabiting the area (who are the Slovenians most like?), I have a more clear understanding that an ethnicity such as the Bosnians, who are Muslims, the Croats, who are Catholics, and the Serbians, who are Orthodox, probably wouldn’t enjoy hanging out together.  Therefore every time I see a new country out of that region, I cheer for their understanding of how silly the original idea was.  But that is not why I now really like the region.  The main answer lies in the one country that came out of that region which I really have to see before I die.  Croatia.
Before I get going on that country, and the little I know about it, I have to clarify that it of course is not the only reason for me to visit that region.  The ultimate Eastern Mediterranean Trip which I have planned takes us from Venice (a part of Italy I haven’t seen) to Croatia (any and all of it) to Montenegro (which I have a newfound respect for) to mainland Greece (I love their food and things are probably a lot cheeper there now) to the islands (one part of Greece I haven’t seen) and finally to Istanbul (not Constantinople, now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople…- thanks, They Might Be Giants).  But to further explain…
Croatia is a country I have to respect for several bare facts.  They are on the Mediterranean.  They are predominantly Catholic (a religion that just has more fun) and they probably have a pretty cool geography anyway.  For a long time now, one of my clocks on my iPod has been set to the time of Zagreb (the capital), which is to remind me that I hope to actually put it to use some day.  I wouldn’t even have to learn more about it than I know now before I go, but everything new I learned about it makes me like it more.  For example, they like soccer so much that a riot outside of a stadium in Zagreb after a match was one of the pivotal moments in the revolution to free Croatia.  They have a really cool flag and really cool soccer uniforms.  And what’s more- this is what I learned from the Bing picture: they have a ritual of creating artificial islands by throwing a bunch of stones into a ship and sinking it in the bay of number of their towns (which is what the Croats did in this particular Montenegran town).
But even more than that- just look at the shape of their country.  It’s like a C.  And that just kinda says that they have to be pretty passionate about their culture and heritage if they are willing to take land that is that spread out and disconnected from itself and create a country out of it.
Definitely going on Bing way more often…

1 comment:

  1. Oh John ... I find your sudden passion for Croatia, of all places, inspiring and funny. With its 1000 km of coastline and cheap prices, it's pretty quickly becoming the Riviera for eastern Europeans.