I met my students today for the first time. A very small group, all female, and very pleasant. They come from all over the country, which is nice. We negotiated a meeting day and time that works for us all. My teaching load is going to be considerably lighter than I'm used to, so I hope various people I'm meeting take advantage of my standing offer to come lecture.
All the people I've met have been so gracious and welcoming. Today one of the professors was celebrating her promotion (a more complicated process than in the US) and they were having a little office party, to which I was invited. Wine and juice and pita, a Bosnian specialty which consists of phyllo-type dough wrapped around various sweet or savory fillings. Delicious.
Croatians seem (rightfully) proud of their cuisine, which varies from region to region. As the country's geography suggests, there are many influences on the food, including Mediterranean, central European, eastern European, and even southern European. (none of them particularly light cuisines, I should add). People are very willing to suggest delicious dishes I must try or places I must go to sample them. Food tends to be relatively inexpensive and quite fresh--and we haven't even made it yet to Dolac, the big farmer's market near the main square, or the the much smaller farmer's market a couple blocks to our east. It's a good thing I'm walking a lot and climbing 80 stairs to our apartment! When I get back to California I'm going to crave Croatian food, which cannot be found anywhere near us.
Croatians eat lunch later than Americans--about 2pm--and dinner later, too. On Saturdays, especially, lunch with family is the main meal of the day. However, at least here in the center of the city I see people walking while munching on sandwiches or pizza slices almost any time of day. I'm told an afternoon siesta is common on weekends during the warmer months. Many shops close very early on Saturdays.
I'm going to change the subject from food to trams. Zagreb has a very extensive tram system. They run very often except in the wee hours. They can be crowded and the older trams are cold in the winter, but they're clean and efficient and the routes seem very well planned. Several trams stop directly in front of building, making the entire building shake. We've become used to it and it's definitely worth it for the convenience. The tram I take to work stops literally in front of my building's door. There are also busses; the only one I've had to take so far is the one that brings me from my tram stop to my office. They are also comfortable. And you can pay your fare on Zagreb's mass transit system by sending a text message. 90 minutes of transport costs 10 kuna--about $1.85--if you text for your ticket. I wouldn't want to drive in the center of the city. There's not much parking, people drive a little crazy (although less so than in Barcelona), street names are confusing, and street signs are hard to see. Trams are definitely the way to go!