I’d been in Croatia for three weeks and, later on that day I was saying my final goodbyes and heading across the border to Slovenia. For the two and a bit days I’d been in Zagreb there had been a girl in my hostel room who left early in the morning and came back late at night so we’d never met. We checked out at the same time and hit it off instantly so we decided to grab breakfast together.
After moseying into town and stopping at a bakery just off of Ban Jelacic square we got to chatting about our next plans in between bites of delicious freshly baked pastry. She mentioned how she thought Zagreb wasn’t a pretty town and, if she hadn’t had friends living here, she would have hated every second. I agree that it’s not the prettiest city in the world but the old part of town couldn’t be described as not nice to look at or a place that you’d hate to be in. Then we realised that there was a part of town that she hadn’t seen.
So I made it my mission to introduce her to the pretty, quaint side to Zagreb she was yet to see before we both went our separate ways.
I took her on a tour of the landmarks I loved on my two days of exploration. We went to the Cathedral, the city gate, Porta di Pietra, and the Church of St Marks’ – possibly Zagreb’s most photographed landmark. Whilst marvelling at the church a news reporter and a cameraman appeared in front of us. They had seemed to come from nowhere and the reporter excitedly asked us if we were from a country other than Croatia (I don’t know what gave us away, it was probably my pasty skin, white from the factor 50 I have to slather on!). When we said we were both from the UK she excitedly asked if she could interview us. Because I’m 150% braver when travelling I agreed – but my new travel buddy said there was no way she’d appear on TV. But the news reporter had no intention of letting me back out so I brushed down my hair and silently cursed myself for not putting on much make-up this morning because I thought today would be reserved as a travel day.
After positioning me so that the pretty church was providing a TV-worthy backdrop, the reporter (I have no idea what her name was but I wish I did because she’s fabulous) said she was going to show me pictures of five men and I had to give my opinions on them. My heart started hammering away in my chest as I suddenly panicked that this was an interview for a dating show or something. My head spun as I decided whether I should just tell her I definitely would not be interested in any of them or just play along anyway. I heard myself say that was fine so I’d somehow made up my mind that I was going to play along.
The images were all on one page. The men ranged from around early 30s to 60s (or so it looked to me, I wasn’t given their real ages). She asked me questions like “just by looking at them who do you trust the most?” and “who would you trust the least?”. She asked who looked more educated and who looked the oldest. She then asked what jobs I thought they all did. My answers ranged from some sort of artist to a rich banker. And the reported laughed at most of my answers so I was very confused at this point – but I was actually having fun.
That was when she told me they were all candidates for the general election that was happening in about 4 days time. I laughed. No photos of hippie painters on the paper then! She then asked “Just from looking at them and knowing nothing about their politics or the parties they are the leaders of, who would you vote for and why?” I chose the youngest guy on account of him looking like the most trustworthy and that as he was younger there was a good chance he’d be more liberal. I was then asked who I would be least likely to vote for and I obviously chose the guy who looked the most like a rich executive – who actually turned out to be the leader of the second most liberal party in the country (after the first man I chose). I was glad to be told I’d chosen the liberal candidate as, right after I’d made my decision, I suddenly had a horrible all-consuming fear that I’d picked the biggest fascist. That it would appear that I was rooting for the Croatian Nigel Farage.
The reporter, who I was definitely wanting to be friends with at this point, then gave me a bit of info about each candidates’ voting history and a bit about their parties. Before this trip I could barely even place Croatia on a map let alone tell you anything about their government, so it was really interesting to learn so much about their politicians. This interview and the info I’d already been given spurred me on to research and read a bit more about how elections worked in Croatia. So, on the bus to Ljubljana, that’s what I did.
Did you know? During the Yugoslavian war so many Croatians moved across the border to Bosnia & Herzegovina that there are several polling stations set up across the country so Bosnian-Croats can vote in their home countries elections.
I wouldn’t have known that fact if I hadn’t have been in Zagreb on that day at that particular time. I wouldn’t have had this fun story to tell or this lovely memory that I’ll keep with me forever if I hadn’t have booked my one way ticket to Dubrovnik and fallen so madly in love with Croatia. That’s partly why I travel; to make memories, to open my eyes and to learn about the way of life in different parts of the world. I travel to meet people who I wouldn’t meet otherwise and to inspire me to keep on learning.
So here’s to the time I was interviewed on Croatian national news, and here’s to hoping that I’ll collect many more of these wonderful experiences to tell over and over to anyone who wants to listen.
Does anyone have any funny/interesting/cool stories from their travels? Let me know in the comments!
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