My Croatian Movie

8 August 2011

Rijeka, Hrvatska

You know in the movies when somebody goes somewhere, and the locals are giving them drinks and encouraging you to do things you don’t understand? That happened to me in Croatia. There were actually cars and drinks and girls and complete confusion. Of course nothing is perfect like in the movies.

A noteable exception includes hangovers. Aleks and I woke up at 5PM everyday for a week, and drinking again in the ‘morning’ could have been a lot harder, but thanks to the half/half lemonade beer you can get everywhere in Croatia, it didn’t seem so wrong to have one for ‘breakfast’.

The people you meet are not all rich celebrities either, though some could be. Earlier in the week I met Ivo, an enormous German Croat who must have been 6’4” and 120kg. Think Russian gangster. A Russian gangster who slams his fist on the table and says’balkan body language’ in that scary deep voice, then shares your deep belly laugh until none of us can barely take our beer to our lips. He couldn’t go out with us all the time because his father was being trialled in Serbia for taking bribes. That didn’t seem so out of the ordinary, except his father was a surgeon.

The movies don’t say that you could be a naive 18 year old. When you are so young and have been pissed for days, suddenly amazing girls buying drinks for you doesn’t seem real and you start brushing it all off. That cute girl, studying law, who giggled and drank with me at Igor’s house when we were all drinking because it was’traditional’. On the other end of the scale, the weird girls who drank with us on the beach until 10am. Andjela when she was happy I taught her the english expression’rebound’ after Aleks broke up with her and got with some ugly girl.

In fact, everything seemed to be traditionally Croatian. Three triple/quadruple shots of Medica, some honey whiskey thing, was traditional, apparently. ‘Have you heard of rakije? So famous! Here! Try!’ Aleks gave me some of his grandfather’s own rakije in his flask. At least 70% alcohol, so I suppose you would describe it as traditional.

In the movies, you wake up somewhere you don’t know and brush it all off. Aleks and I went to Zrce beach on an island devoted to nightlife (like Ibiza). We slept in the lifeguard tower, but you can’t really brush off a swarm of wasps in the morning, and we coudln’t just brush off the pain of jumping down onto rocks to get away. Maybe when you pass out in the night time, you don’t wake up and wonder what is happening to you, and your friend just tells you what happened. But I did, and I found people had carefully outlined my whole body in bottles and cups and glasses, so I just let myself pass out again on top of it all. We would recount everything on our way through the sparse forest to get our bag which had our kuna and spare shirts inside.

Some things are better than in the movies: you jump into a fountain/pool thing in a club, and everyone takes photos of you, and the security guards don’t care and just tell you to buy another drink. Even the police are lax. Or maybe there aren’t any police. There didn’t seem to be any police when were zooming along at 210km/h in Aleks’ Mercedes.

All movies must end, but in movies there’s a rainy scene or the sun sets. But in this movie, the last day and night was a blur like all the rest, the setting the same as all other scenes. Warm salty water, rocky beaches, Croatian songs that I was able to actually sing along to and a constant taste of rakije in my mouth.

December 12th, 2013 7:42pm