Croatia from the other side
Do you wanna hear about life in Croatia from a different perspective? Not from a tourist point of view; only from personal experience gained living in Pula for five months.
In October 2016 I, a 21 years old girl from Ukraine, started to volunteer in ZUM Association in Pula and it became an opportunity not only to live and volunteer abroad, but also to travel!
Over five months of volunteering I visited the old walls of King's Landing-Dubrovnik; drank Turkish coffee in Sarajevo; saw a bunch of tourists trying to "hold" the Leaning Tower of Pisa; hiked in Slovenia… and that's not all.
Let me tell you more about my experience in your country and the cultural differences I noticed.
I’ve already been to all regions of Croatia. I was frozen at -20 degrees on Plitvice lakes. I heard the sea organ in Zadar during strong bura. I walked on the walls of Dubrovnik just after the New Year. I also saw how crazy Croatian people can be during the carnival in Rijeka.
You can say that all of these places are quite touristic and it is true, but all of my travels were during wintertime.
That’s why I also saw empty streets and even empty towns in Istria, went by train to Slavonia, hiked mountains near Zagreb and tried to swim on Krk island.
Cities: incredible-in-the-summer-and-dead-in-the-winter Pula, party Rijeka, fancy Split, busy Zagreb and expensive Dubrovnik. I love all of them because of their unique atmosphere. For example, I can see how Pula is changing during the seasons. When spring is coming with the shining sun and blossoming trees, people are becoming more welcoming too.
And do you know what I’m gonna tell you? Your country is amazing, full of incredible places and hidden opportunities, so try not to sit at home all the time. Go out and explore!
They. Are. Amazing. The Adriatic sea is extremely clean. You can even spend the first part of your day diving near the islands, followed by hiking in the mountains. Sounds like paradise, doesn’t it?
Sorry guys, but that’s the thing I really don’t like in Croatia. Your transport system is expensive and slow. And I have so many crazy experience with buses here, that I feel like writing a whole book about it.
Thus comes the following topic.
Believe me, it’s faster than buses! And don’t be afraid, people are friendly and always ready to help. I already hitchhiked in Istria, Dalmatia and central Croatia. It was fast, safe and full of adventures! And I met not only Croatian drivers, but also Bosnians, Italians, and even Russians. The last one saved me from freezing when I was waiting near Plitvice and afterwards bought me an ice-cream ;)
Your schedules do not dictate your lives. Your lives dictate your schedules. Polako-polako… Isn’t it? You really like to take the time and enjoy your coffee. Or to drink beer. Or to talk with your friends. The rest of the world can wait.
Small advice: try to take important things a little more seriously and don’t hate your neighbors ;)
Last but not least are food and drinks. Because I’m vegetarian, I didn’t try sarma or maneštra. But I ate istarski fuži with truffles, zagorski štrukli, kroštule and fritule. Yummy. And, of course, coffee (read the part about the mentality again) and rakija.
That’s how I see Croatia - full of contrasts.
Therefore, my young readers, believe me - travels are the best teachers! They broaden your mind, develop cultural empathy and give us a better understanding of the world.
Learn, have fun and keep going,
EVS Volunteer in ZUM