Saturday, 9 May 2009

Croatia Pt 1.

So, I’m in Croatia, a country I hadn’t given a single thought to until this week. I don’t really know why. It just never registered with me. And, the way I so far have been able to walk around the streets without being constantly mobbed by screaming teenage girls, they’ve never heard of me either. The good news is that Croatia and I are getting on very well. It’s a beautiful place and the “Fuck it, we’ll do it tomorrow” attitude of the people suits me fine.

I’m staying in a very touristy place called Porec but, as it’s just out of tourist season, there are really not that many people around. To be fair, I haven’t really looked round Porec mainly due to fear of Brits On The Piss types that probably aren’t even here. Not that I’ve avoided British people since I’ve been here. I fucking haven’t. There seems to be mainly British people staying at my hotel, along with some Germans. No doubt hilarity will ensue at the poolside over some towel-on-the-lounger situation. The German’s have definitely been my favourite. Two of them to be precise. I saw them on my first night and thought they might be the biggest pair of twatty geeks I have ever seen. Looks can be deceiving.
They’re a couple in their early 50’s, I’m guessing, and I saw them while going to the hotel bar for my nightcap. The hotel bar has a terrible covers band EVERY FUCKING NIGHT so I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to just sit there and have a relaxing beer. Plus the place is floodlit. You can practically see people’s bones, it’s so brightly lit. The band played some terrible balls and there were two people dancing along to it. Only two. And everyone was transfixed on them. It was like they had rehearsed their dance routine for weeks, both smiling constantly as if trying to appeal to judges. They twirled around and shook what I assume is their stuff for ages, always bowing after each song. It’s not like they were bad people, just geeks. Fairly embarrassing, quite laughable geeks. Their geekdom only enhanced by the gentleman’s choice of clothing. He wore a very tight white t-shirt with cut off sleeves, tight black shorts, a bum bag and silver, spangley shoes. He was 50+ and a disco demon.

The next day, I saw the couple again. This time getting on a tandem. I recognised the gentleman immediately by his massive permanent smile, the same one he had been so proud of while dancing. They were both dressed identically this time. In cycling gear. Their tops suggested they cycled competitively but my brain suggested they didn’t. They looked even geekier than the previous night. Then the gentleman went off for a few minutes on his own leaving, I presume, his wife to hold the tandem until he returned. She all of a sudden looked very serious. Not exactly sad but definitely serious, like she was not just standing on her own but actually alone with her thoughts. Crap, I stupidly thought, this is all his idea and she hates it but goes along with it anyway. He returned with his big grin and patronisingly helped her on to the bike like she was so fragile that she couldn’t possibly do it herself. I really started to dislike this guy.

That night, I went for my nightcap again and caught two long tedious songs from the crap covers band while waiting to get served. The German couple were up again twirling and spinning and bowing and there was his big smile beaming out his evil, controlling punchableness throughout the room. The second song ended and he decided that they would sit this one out and sit down. He even led her by the hand to her seat. The patronising cunt. Maybe she can walk to her seat herself without your fucking help, you smug shit…..OR perhaps, just perhaps, she’s blind.

She was blind. Probably still is. No wonder he grinned all the time. He was in a relationship with someone who despite being blind wanted to dance and, let’s face it this must be tricky for her, cycle her way round foreign countries and generally enjoy her life. I look at blindness as a disability that must cut out so much of your life and she simply doesn’t. They were up there looking ridiculous and spinning around for the judges (that weren’t there) and having a great time. A much better time than I was standing waiting to be served while complaining about a crap covers band. I love that couple. They have taught me a valuable lesson about judging people that I will soon forget. But that’s my problem. They, on the other hand, don’t have a problem in the world. Good for those geeks.

The little that I’ve travelled around Croatia has been both beautiful and shocking. Amongst the breathtaking scenery there are still constant reminders of the War of Independence and the locals don’t seem to want to hide those signs either. It’s what they went through and it’s too recent to pretend to forget. It’s also deeply moving for someone who didn’t live through it. In one hour long journey through the Istra countryside I saw numerous houses still riddled with bullet holes, a burnt-out, crashed shell of a fighter jet and a piece of angry graffiti that read “Jakob is homo for Turkey cock”. It’s hard not to think about how this place was just a decade and a half ago with people fleeing their homes, tanks rolling through the fields and Jakob sucking off poultry. The fun side of Croatia is evident, it’s very much a party place, but I find its recent history more interesting. The few people I’ve met have all been affected by the war, grew up during it and know all too much about it. None of them remember Jakob though.

And that is why I'm not a travel writer.

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