We reached Zagreb after seven months of non-stop travel through Europe. We hadn't stepped foot into an American grocery store in a very long time; we were getting our Ziploc bags via parents and friends who we met in Europe. Maybe we were feeling a bit homesick. Maybe we were missing the sheer commercialism and convenience of the United States. All I know is that when we reached Zagreb, it felt like home.
Zagreb National Theatre
Not exactly like home in that people weren't driving their pick-ups to Wal-mart but kind of like home. The stores are massive here and familiarly big box-y. The Croatian equivalent of Petsmart sells Chewy's and Abby's preferred variety of food, treats of all type, and a snazzy bone-printed collar that we couldn't resist picking up. Malls are the thing in the way that malls are the thing during Christmas time in the South; everyone's hanging out, sitting in the coffee shops (Starbucks included), eating fast food at the mall food court, and we're walking past Clinique, Adidas, and Timberland shops.
Ben Jelacic Square, lace in store, and a statue overlooking the Cathedral
I'm not saying that it isn't also Croatian. It is: the tiled St. Mark's Church smacks of Eastern European origins and the omnipresent lace tablecloths/handkerchiefs/children's dresses for sale are certainly not American. The buildings are often yellow when we would paint them white or gray and the statues celebrate revolutionaries and heroes from Croatia's long and turbulent past. The Museum of Broken Relationships --- a home for displaced and destroyed objects of lost relationships ---- is intriguing and contains many objects destroyed or let go during the Yugoslavian wars.
Exhibits from the fascinating Museum of Broken Relationships
And everyone here speaks English. Every single person. The young speak without accents, growing up watching American television with Hrvatska subtitles; Family Matters with Steve Urkel, Two and a Half Men, and Friends are particularly popular here. The older speak haltingly, some with accents and some in broken English. Wikipedia tells us that 49% of the population speak English but we felt like it was much more. Here, Patrick and I can't talk about the weird-to-us things that people do because everyone understands English.
It is strange and familiar, all at the same time.