Zagreb Again

Jun 29, 2007

Zagreb is unbearably hot these days. School isn't over yet. We've just started a makeover of our condo. What a summer!

Somehow I don't feel like writing about my trips, especially because I'm not going anywhere this summer. Okay, okay, I'm going to the seaside, to the island of Krk later next month, but I'm not traveling abroad.

People travel so much in the summer that we wouldn't stand a chance to board a plane as stand-by passengers. On the one hand it's good, because all popular destinations are overcrowded at that time, but on the other, I feel sorry for not being able to explore other countries. But I know we'll make up for it in the fall and winter, our travel seasons.

Zagreb, Croatia

Jun 14, 2007

After visiting Dubrovnik, the pearl of the Adriatic, we all arrived in Zagreb, our hometown. Perhaps the fact that our American guests had the opportunity to live and work/go to school in the Croatian way and because this is where our home is, i.e. our family and friends, was the reason they liked Zagreb more than Dubrovnik. As they said, Dubrovnik is more traditional, Zagreb is more modern - and besides, they went clubbing, which is actually impossible in the States, being less than 21.

Anyway, they gave presentations to their peers in our school, about their families, school, L.A. and even Mexico, since both kids are Latin American. It was great to learn about how differently we live and yet, how similar we actually are. We learned about the prom and house parties, tostada and cheesecake, electives and detention. They were taken aback to hear that our kids have 17 mandatory classes per year and that they have to read two books a month as their compulsory literature. They liked custard cake and ice cream.

The most enjoyable part of their stay here was the sightseeing in Zagreb. We had so much fun and laughed all the time. The highlight was the visit to the Croatian National Theater, just a while before the beginning of Swan Lake.

Zagreb

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Jun 11, 2007

Dubrovnik


Our American guests, one teacher and two students, arrived in Europe on May 29. They flew to Paris where they spent the first three days, then took an overnight train to Florence, stayed there for another two days, then on to Rome from where they flew to Dubrovnik, via Vienna. Four Croatian teachers and two students who were to host their American peers, met them at Dubrovnik Airport. Together we all went to the Youth Hostel, which was excellent, with delicious food, clean rooms and bathrooms (although not en suite) and very helpful and kind staff, especially the cooks.

We walked all over the Old Town of Dubrovnik, both through its incredibly narrow streets (where neighbours can't but know everything about each other, from what you eat for lunch to why you have a row with your husband) and on the ancient walls, whose length is almost 2 km. We went on a boat ride to Lokrum, one of the most beautiful islands in Croatia, where the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic are of the most unusual color of green and blue.

School Exchange, Part II

We started making plans for this exchange almost two years ago, when our two students and two teachers returned from the States. The Americans were supposed to come to Croatia last June, but it couldn't be done for different reasons, so we postponed the exchange for this school year. To be honest, this time last year I thought it'd never happen. But we were too stubborn to give up. It took a lot of energy, a lot of planning and fundraising, but they're here right now, and we're all really proud of making it happen. Because, we've seen that it's up to us, the teachers. If we believe in it, if we really want something then we can make it happen. We put a lot of effort into it, but it's worth it. Seeing the students having a great time in learning about the differences and similarities between us, is what inspires us to go on. The world becomes a better place if we instill in each student the importance of understanding and being understood, of respecting and being respected.

About Getting Lost

Jun 4, 2007

We don't usually get lost easily in foreign cities, although we still neither own nor rent a GPS. When we travel, we get equipped up front with all the printable maps and most of the time it's enough to find our way.

However, we got totally lost in Los Angeles. Upon arriving at the airport, we rented a car. The person at the rental agency gave us another map and kindly showed us the way to the interstate that was to take us to Las Vegas. He even draw the route on it. So we set off happily in a nice Ford, and soon found ourselves on Century Boulevard, which, I thought, was the right road. But alas, I didn't know that there was also Century Freeway, running parallel to Century Boulevard. We knew that something was wrong when Century Boulevard suddenly disappeared right in front of us. It was somewhere in Watts or Compton. We couldn't believe our eyes and just stopped there not knowing what to do and where to go. People were honking, a lady in a car stopped and tried to help, but the only thing she said was that that was not the way to Vegas. No help from all those maps either. We were driving around, everybody nervous and frightened and yelling at each other, when suddenly, there it was, the entrance to Century Freeway. The rest was a piece of cake.

In South Beach we went for a ride on the SBL (South Beach Local). It cost only 25 cents, and because I thought it was a circular line, we decided to see all of SoBe by bus. It was around 8pm, but already dark. Of course, this wasn't a circular line so when the bus arrived at its last stop we were asked to get off. We froze with fear when we saw where we were: a dark parking lot with no people around. Luckily, the driver took us to a well-lit bus stop in front of a huge shopping mall. He told us that he would be coming with his bus in five minutes so we waited for him, got on and later he showed us where to get off. He was even so kind that he let us ride without paying.

Graz, Austria

Jun 3, 2007

Graz


Austria is not very far from Zagreb. It takes us only two hours to get to Graz, my favorite shopping city. We usually go there twice a year, for winter and summer sales. Ironically, I don't buy in 'Austrian' shops. It's the Swedish brands I go for. H&M for clothes and Ikea for furniture and other house goodies. When they finally open up in Croatia, I guess we'll stop going to Graz. However, I'm not sure it will happen soon.

Shopping malls aside, Graz really is a cute city. We spent three days there several years ago and acted like genuine tourists. Amazing, isn't it? All over the world I don't want to look touristy, but in Graz it seems all right, somehow.

The city was given a new touch after being the European Cultural Capital in 2003. The new Kunsthaus, the Lift im Berg and the Murinsel are very modern indeed, but the old part of the city still has its old flare. Schloss Eggenberg is also definitely worth a visit.

Fridge Magnets

Jun 2, 2007

I guess there are lots of people who buy fridge magnets. Do they really keep them on their fridge because this is what their name says? What when the fridge becomes too small? Should I buy a new, bigger fridge?

I'm obsessed with fridge magnets, I really am. It all started in 1998 in Liechtenstein. I was on a school exchange in the Swiss town of Buchs and we went on a half-day trip to Vaduz, the capital of this tiny state of Liechtenstein. I wanted to buy a souvenir and there it was, a simple magnet with the royal palace on it. It remained the only magnet on my fridge for a very short time, because soon after that we returned home from NYC with an array of magnets: the Statue of Liberty, an apple, a yellow cab, a licence plate.



Today, my fridge is almost all covered with magnets that we've bought on our trips. We can't resist buying them. For instance, although we already had two magnets from Munich, we bought three new ones on our recent trip there: one with the Allianz Arena, one with the Hofbrauhaus and its bier and one with FC Bayern logo, which is also a bottle opener.



Only two have been given to us - one from Kranjska Gora, a ski resort in Slovenia (but we were there a long, long time ago) and the other from Cancun, Mexico. We've been to Mexico, but stayed only for a few hours in Tijuana.

Paris Photos

Jun 1, 2007

Paris
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