Dubrovnik

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Old Walled Dubrovnik

Old Walled Dubrovnik

(click any photo to enlarge; see gallery, below)

Sea Wall Panorama

Sea Wall Panorama

WHERE HAVE I BEEN? you ask. Why haven’t I heard more about Dubrovnik? Do they call it by another name? (Yes, actually; it used to go by Ragusa—its Italian name). Maybe Croatians have just been keeping it to themselves? But the place has been catching on as a destination; CNNGo calls Dubrovnik one of the Ten Best Medieval Walled Cities in the World.

Floating City outside Dubrovnik

Floating City outside Dubrovnik

A few days in Dubrovnik show that Europeans and Asians know Dubrovnik’s charms, and they are here. Not a few cruise ships call at the new port in New Dubrovnik, and we even see one between the mainland and the Island of Lokrum, which shields the Old City’s harbor from nearby—parked in a space that seems too narrow for the megaship even to turn around.

Old Dubrovnik Map

Old Dubrovnik Map

But American tourists are in relatively short supply here, and it’s surely a result of the 1990s Balkan War, which Americans never have understood well. Dubrovnik was heavily shelled from the mountain above it—a position Napoleon’s army once held—by the Serbs and Montenegrins of the Yugoslav Army after the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991. The city, which had been de-militarized since 1970 for the protection of its UNESCO World Heritage-designated treasures, suffered heavy damage. Our historic hotel was set afire, and most buildings, including those of the historic Old City, suffered damage. As the city held no military significance, the attack on it was meant solely to demoralize its inhabitants—and all Croatia into capitulation—an option they refused to entertain. It took over fifteen years of hard work and UNESCO support after hostilities ceased to repair the damage and welcome tourists back.

City Walls at Night

City Walls at Night

Dubrovnik resembles Venice in its historical position and development. Like Venice, it drew its wealth from world trade, and like Venice, it prospered as an independent republic among rival empires. Like Venice, its geographic position and fortifications had much to do with its wealth and independence. For Venice, the sea itself was its walls; at Dubrovnik, its stone walls—as thick as 23 feet—were teamed with the sea for the city’s defense.

Entrance, from Drained Moat

Entrance, from Drained Moat

The moat that once supplemented Dubrovnik’s landward walls was long since drained, and now holds a fountain, gardens, and a kayak-rental concession, while sporting a permanent entrance bridge where a drawbridge once spanned it. Dubrovnik never equaled the Venetian palaces and churches for sheer opulence, but it resisted Venetian domination and rivaled as a maritime power it from its perch on the Eastern Adriatic coast.

Dubrovnik Museum & Clock Tower

Dubrovnik Museum & Clock Tower

Two rival theories posit Dubrovnik’s origins as an ancient Greek colony and maritime way station on the one hand, or as a settlement of survivors from the Roman town of Epidaurum (nearby modern Cavtat), after its destruction by 7th Century Slav and Avar invaders. Ragusa, as it was then called, grew into a power on the Dalmatian coast and prospered through Mediterranean trade. When the forces of the Fourth Crusade invaded Dalmatia, Venice took Ragusa under its shadow in 1205 and transferred some of its aristocratic republican DNA to its junior partner. By 1358, Ragusa had grown strong enough to shake off Venetian control and ally itself with Hungary as a largely independent vassal, continuing its expansion into the 15th Century.

1667 Earthquake Rubble

1667 Earthquake Rubble

The devastating earthquake of 1667 shook all but two of the city’s buildings to the ground and, along with a drop in trade, triggered its decline. The city was reconstructed, in Baroque style, but never regained its dominance or its splendor.

Uphill towards French Fort

Uphill towards French Fort

Napoleon and his army entered Ragusa in 1806 on a ruse as “white knight” saviors from a Russian and Montenegrin siege, and then turned to blockade and force the surrender of the city, whose government the French then dissolved, while folding Ragusa into the Kingdom of Italy. This arrangement would be short-lived, as in 1814, Ragusa was, in turn, taken by the British and Austrians, to be incorporated into the Austro-Hungarian empire by the Congress of Vienna, where it remained until after World War I.

He's GOOD, too!

He’s GOOD, too!

After the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Ragusa became part of a new Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and its name was officially changed to Dubrovnik—a name that had, in fact, been used since the Middle Ages. During the Second World War, Dubrovnik was swept into a Nazi-puppet Independent State of Croatia and occupied by the Germans’ Italian proxies, until 1943, when the Germans themselves invaded Dalmatia. Following the War, the city became part of the Socialist Republic of Croatia, within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia—the creation of the WWII Partisan leader Josip Broz “Tito,” who amalgamated a state out of six republics, at least five major ethnicities, sheer personal appeal, will and wiliness.

Den Mother and Friend

Den Mother and Friend

Any attempted characterization here of the complexities of Yugoslavia, the Balkan peoples, and their common history of conflict and collaboration is likely to prove a disservice, rather than a benefit. On the other hand, a visit of a couple of weeks with a knowledgeable tour director, local city guides, candid conversation and some access to people’s homes and working environments, has brought at least one people’s experience in the region to life, and into the realm of sympathetic comprehensibility. We are grateful, and will bear these people in our prayers, if we are not too forgetful, for years to come.

Panorama, Old Harbor

Panorama, Old Harbor

Our tour director has hired a boat and driver for a foray into the harbor and along the near coast of nearby Lokrum Island. Our boat lurches along on the waves, and as I rise to my feet to snap some photos and balance myself (not hard for an NYC subway rider), I feel that I’ve pulled a lower back muscle, which will make sleeping difficult for a couple of nights and bother me for weeks.

Towards Lokrum Island

Towards Lokrum Island

One of our fellow travelers notes that there is said to be a Naturist (the designation currently preferred by nudists) beach on the other side of the island. We don’t venture there, of course, but a person from the region tells us that she used to go to such resorts with her family in her childhood, and that she and her friends would often laugh at the “newbie” tourists who visited there, who were instantly recognizable. They would always get quite sunburned on their faces and on their bottoms, she tells us, and would look “just like baboons.” She also remarked that the impulse that proliferated some degree of nudist culture was sparked by the notorious Wallis Simpson, the late Duchess of Windsor, who enticed Edward VI to abdicate the throne of the United Kingdom to become her third husband.

Stairway to St. Ignatius Church

Stairway to St. Ignatius Church

Everywhere we travel, we tend to see the same, gray, “budget model” Pigeon we’ve long known in New York City (where it is, by the way, illegal to feed the winged vermin). We see them here in Dubrovnik too, but there’s one difference: they fly differently. It’s evident that these pigeons have learned a different way of flying from the lively, ubiquitous, Mediterranean swallows that we find such a delight here. Rather than just flapping, sailing along, and swooping for a bread crumb, these local pigeons dart, bank suddenly, and change direction the way the swallows do. Now if only swallows could come to NYC and teach pigeons to eat insects, as they do! For their part, the coloring of the swallows in some locations (particularly in Greek Macedonia) makes them look a bit like small, flying perch or mackerel.

"Jewish Street" in Dubrovnik

“Jewish Street” in Dubrovnik

We come across a street sign (they are always embedded in the ground-floor walls of corner buildings in this part of the world—never on freestanding signposts) that declares a narrow passage to be ULICA ZUDIOSKA, “Jewish Street.”

Synagogue Museum

Synagogue Museum

A few doors from the corner is the old synagogue, the oldest Sephardic synagogue in use today, and the second-oldest in Europe. Joined to it is the city’s Jewish Museum. “No Jews live on Jew Street today,” says the manager who sells us tickets. “Many” Jews are said to have made their way to Dubrovnik from after their expulsion from Spain and Portugal in 1492. Many of them became merchants and craftsmen; one became one of the best-known cannon and bell founders of the time. Their lot rode on the degree of Dubrovnik’s independence: when Venice dominated, they were harassed and persecuted around Dubrovnik; when Dubrovnik’s position fell in the mid-1700s, Jews were confined to the ghetto they were allotted in 1546. Napoleon first gave them full equality in 1808; the Austrians again withdrew their rights, and Croatia finally recognized Jewish legal equality in the mid-19th Century.

Dubrovnik Synagogue

Dubrovnik Synagogue

Many of Dubrovnik’s 250 Jews were transferred to an Italian concentration camp during WWII, while others were transferred to “liberated” parts of Croatia when Tito’s partisans entered Dubrovnik in late 1944. After the War, many of Dubrovnik’s survivors settled in Israel. Only seventeen Jews were counted here in the 2001 census.

Orlando, Dubrovnik's Yardstick

Orlando, Dubrovnik’s Yardstick

Feeling underemployed? Here’s a niche profession that may just be available in your town: you could be your local Sir Orlando (Some may know him as Roland from old epic tales; Orlando seems it could well be a translation into Pig Latin). This Medieval knight and reputed nephew of Charlemagne (or his statue, actually) stands, with drawn sword, in front of St. Blaise’s church. His function (again, that of his statue, really) was to serve as the Dubrovnik yardstick. Under Orlando’s feet, one can see a faint, straight line scribed into the stone. Its length is the length of the statue’s forearm, 51.2 cm. and served as the standard Ragusan cubit for measuring dry goods in the city. From the flagstaff to which Orlando is attached, on certain holidays the city still flies the old Ragusan banner that proclaimed LIBERTAS (liberty) in the city and on its sailing ships.

Yup, it's an Artichoke!

Yup, it’s an Artichoke!

A TRENDY TRAVEL TOPIC these days is “Agro-Tourism.” It takes many forms, from working, farm vacations (Ugh! Sounds like Mom & Dad – mostly Dad – attempting to instill “work ethic” in the kids; good luck with that!), and visits to wineries, with wine-tastings and local cuisine. The award-winning tour company we use, Odysseys Unlimited, likes to provide very welcome opportunities to spend evenings with local families engaged in agriculture.

Pre-Dinner Grappa Tasting

Pre-Dinner Grappa Tasting

Near Dubrovnik, we visit a local vintner and olive grower, who takes us to his cool, stone olive press cellar for a tasting of his Croatian grappa-equivalent, which, like Italian grappa, is distilled from the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems left over from wine making, and is generally flavored with berries, fruit, or herbs. Our host’s sage flavor version was the best of a three excellent varieties he served. 

Olive Oil the Old Way

Olive Oil the Old Way

Old Olive Press

Old Olive Press

After this starter, our olive grower trotted out his sweet little white horse, the surprise “star of the show” our tour director had told us to expect, and demonstrated the use of a traditional, beast-powered olive crusher. After the olives are crushed into a suitable mash, the product is transferred into a kind of basket made from a rope that leaves no contaminating flavor in the oil, and placed in a traditional, manual press, which the olive grower successively ratchets to high pressure, against the mechanism’s anchors in the ceiling and walls, until extra virgin olive oil flows out of the mash and press. Hot water boils on a stove in the corner of the room, for use in successive, and less desirable, pressings of the mash. We finish with a discussion of old and new processes, market economics, amino acid content, and Q&A.

Delicious, Fresh Antipasto

Delicious, Fresh Antipasto

A tour of our host’s garden, porch, and environs leads to a home-cooked dinner served in an adjacent stone dining room. Fresh antipasti, including home-made prosciutto, cheese, basil, the proprietor’s wines, and other treats lead to the main course and a succulent dessert of creme caramel, like a huge flan. Tonight, life is good.

From Host's Back Porch

From Host’s Back Porch

GALLERY

(click on any photo to begin. View on a LARGE monitor, if possible)

 

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Strazisce

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Knowing well that Commerce secretary Ron Brown’s military airliner went down in 1996 in former Yugoslavia with our dear and still keenly-missed friend Nathaniel Cushing Nash on board, I was not thinking of that sad event as we drove with our group from the Dubrovnik airport, newly arrived from Zagreb, to the coastal resort town of Cavtat, on our way to the old walled city of Dubrovnik.

As we rounded a curve on the gently-winding mountain highway, our tour director, Irina, clicked her microphone on to draw our attention to the right side of our coach. In that direction, she said, we could see a peak where, on April 3, 1996, Brown’s plane crashed in bad weather, killing him and 34 other passengers and crew, including Nathaniel, the New York Times Economics correspondent and Frankfurt bureau Chief–the only other passenger she identified by name.

(details of the event are found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_Croatia_USAF_CT-43_crash)

 “He was my roommate!” I blurted out. I had shared a rented house with Nathaniel and five other friends, when he was starting out at the Times and I was early in what became 24 years at CBS. Our tour director nearly wept when I told her more about it later. She hadn’t had to mention Nathaniel by name, but she did, and I’m grateful. I hadn’t placed the tragedy at Dubrovnik, and I’d hate to have been so near the spot but oblivious that so notable an event in our lives had taken place there.

I wondered later if we might be able to visit the spot itself, but found that it is reachable only by a hiking trail. Our situation and schedule, once in Dubrovnik, and indeed, our available energy, made a trek there impractical. Our comfort remains our confidence that our brother rests in the joy of God’s presence.  It’s good, too, to know that a monument–a ten-foot stainless cross with the crash victims’ names inscribed in stone–stands on the site.

But why would our tour director, as well as a Croatian guide we met in a museum, speak as caringly as they do of the event? Brown and his delegation were on a mission concerned with re-development of a war-damaged region where hostilities had only recently ceased. Croatians appreciated it then, and they appreciate it to this day.

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Turanj

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TURANJ is a neighborhood in the suburbs of the city of Karlovak where our group stopped for a brief tour of a Homeland War memorial—a display of weapons used and buildings damaged during the 1991-1996 Balkan wars. Karlovak, whose major industry before the war had been the Karlovačko brewery, lay near the front lines between forces of the Republic of Croatia and those of the rebel Croatian Serbs. Turanj and other Southern parts of Karlovak were devastated by shelling from the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army. Sixteen years later, most of the damage has been repaired, but bullet and shrapnel holes remain visible in some buildings. Artillery, landing craft, tanks, a Croatian jet fighter and a shot-down Serbian counterpart, along with a “portable” concrete bunker and shelled buildings are here on display as a reminder of that conflict.

Today, Karlovak’s largest employer is a fast-growing arms manufacturer.

(click on any photo to open the gallery)

Plitvice Lakes National Park

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Plitvice Lakes National Park, http://www.np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/en/ a comfortable drive from Zagreb, is a happily under-discovered wonder of the world. We found it thronged at its entrance, but progressively thinned out as we explored.

The Park is a network of paths, stairways and rustic boardwalks built around a string of terraced lakes that spill over, one into another, through a cascade of waterfalls and smaller natural spillways. The calcium-laden flows have laid down unique travertine deposits over the millennia. Ghostly, calcified tree branches spread out beneath the surface of the turquoise and azure lakes and ponds, whose water color changes with their contents and composition. But these are not like the  crystal-clear but lifeless acid-rain-fed lakes some of us have known in the American Northeast; they are teeming, surely stocked, with small trout.

We begin our circuit with the “lower” lakes, and continue after a short ferry trip and lunch at the open-air pavilions with the upper lakes, walking mostly on boardwalks placed near to, or often just inches over, the rushing water.

There are vantage points that induce the sensation that the ground beside you, above you, below you, and around you all has sprung serious, simultaneous leaks. Water spills through shrubs and tufts of grass along a narrow field between lakes, but the water’s source is hidden until you climb a bit further to see the surface of the next pond or lake. If this were your back yard, you’d call a plumber–if not the national guard!

Though we are still in the North of Croatia, the lush and varied vegetation here feels and looks tropical–or rather, it runs the gamut from tropical to humid sub-tropical. The constant mist created by the rushing and falling water keeps everything moist.

Photos carry the rest of the story…

(click on any photo to open the gallery)

Zagreb

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Our Zagreb Hotel - built for Orient Express passengers.

Our Zagreb Hotel – built for Orient Express passengers.

ZAGREB is the capital and largest city of Croatia, which declared its independence in 1991, disaggregating itself from what had been Yugoslavia (which means “South Slavia”) as Eastern European communism dissolved. The new Zagreb we see along the half-hour drive from the airport to our hotel (“The best in town!” says our cabbie) surprises us for its greenness.

(click on photos to enlarge them; more in gallery below)

Zagreb Rail Station

Zagreb Rail Station

We’re told that a fifth of the city’s area is set aside for parks. A string of them begins just a block from our hotel, built in 1925 to accommodate passengers on the Orient Express, and the nearby rail station, where the legendary train stopped.

Monument to King Tomislav

Monument to King Tomislav

In the closest park square stands a monument to King Tomislav, who united the Dalmatian Croats and Panonian Slavs into a kingdom spanning modern Croatia and Bosnia in 925. The Croatian kings ruled until the beginning of the 12th Century when, threatened by Hungary, Venice, and Byzantium, Croatia allied with Hungary, beginning 400 years of Hungarian rule. Venice had seized most of the Dalmatian coast, except for the independent city-state of Dubrovnik (aka Ragusa) by the early 15th Century, while the Ottomans pressed in from the East. Following major Ottoman victories, Croatia turned to Austria for help and bowed to a Habsburg king.

Zagreb Spires

Zagreb Spires

As you might have guessed, Zagreb owns the world capital closest to the end of the alphabet (the English one, anyway)—edging out Yerevan, Armenia by a full letter. As well as standing guard over this orthographic border, under the Austrians, Zagreb anchored the territorial border between Christian Europe and the Ottoman empire—a military frontier cultivated by the Habsburgs, who offered tax incentives to encourage Orthodox Serbs and Bosnians to relocate to the region and provide military service to buttress the empire against Westward Turkish expansion. Meanwhile, many Croats migrated towards Austria. These migrations not only provided security at the time, but also helped set up the tensions that would trouble the Balkans throughout the 20th Century and spill out into wars, culminating, most recently, in the “Homeland War” of 1991-1996.

Ban Josip Jelačić

Ban Josip Jelačić

As for Zagreb, in 1851, Josip Jelačić, the Ban (or Viceroy), joined the upper “Bishop’s town,” home of Zagreb Cathedral and a Roman Catholic Diocese since 1094, with the larger “King’s town” (a free, royal city since 1242) creating a united Zagreb. Jelačić’s equestrian statue stands in the city’s main square, which is named after him.

Art Pavilion in Tomislav Square

Art Pavilion in Tomislav Square

A walk to the Old Town bring Zagreb’s origins, conquests, and alliances into relief. Much of the City’s architecture comes from its period of Austro-Hungarian domination—as in much of the rest of this part of the world. Many of these buildings are 130 to 150 years old, and never have gotten the maintenance they deserve and require. The World Wars, communist-era neglect, damage from the 1990s “Homeland War,” and the current world recession all have taken their toll. Much has been rebuilt and renovated over the past 15 years, but much more remains to be done.

Nice starter block - needs TLC

Nice starter block – needs TLC

What has been restored is beautiful. Some of the grander, restored buildings bear the same yellow color found throughout the cities of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Empress Maria Theresa’s favorite color was yellow, and her decorating preferences made that color the cheapest one on the market, and the most popular.

Croatian National Theater (through a window)

Croatian National Theater (through a window)

The idea of “South Slavia” bears a bit of reflection. The people who live in this region of former Yugoslavia are Mediterranean Slavs—a combination of concepts that an American might find disorienting. But here they are, Slavic peoples far away from the snow and ice of the North, enjoying the warm, Mediterranean climate and hot, Mediterranean sun, building and sailing yachts, grilling calamari, and serving fine, local wines to throngs of European and Asian tourists along the Dalmatian Coast.

Zagreb rooftops and stuck funicular

Zagreb rooftops and stuck funicular

Americans have been slow to discover this Riviera—a fact we don’t mind as we soak it in over the next couple of weeks. Our fellow Yanks are likely still uncertain about the region following the 1991-1996 “Homeland War,” as Croatians and Slovenians call the latest Balkan conflict, whose principals are still being tried for Genocide at the Hague. It has taken fifteen years to repair much of the damage (we are shown bullet and shrapnel holes that remain here and there), and the result is classic, Adriatic beauty. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves; we’re still in inland Zagreb.

Pahrt being made in Switzerland

Pahrt being made in Switzerland

If Croatia’s shape suggests the head of an alligator swallowing Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zagreb is its eye, situated in the nation’s Northwest, along the Sava River, and on the slopes of the Medvednica Mountains. Its metropolitan area, the largest in Croatia, cradles 1.1 million souls.

St. George and fish-faced Dragon

St. George and fish-faced Dragon

And what’s the second largest Croatian city? Not Split, nor Dubrovnik—but Pittsburgh! Without supporting evidence, I’d guess New York City ranks third. 4.2 to 4.5 million Croatians are counted in Croatia, another million in the rest of former Yugoslavia, and 2.3 million more around the world.

Epicenter of Neckwear

Epicenter of Neckwear

What’s Croatia famous for? It’s the birthplace of the necktie, for one thing. International necktie day is celebrated there and elsewhere on October 18. 17th-Century Croatian soldiers’ wives and girlfriends tied scarves in a distinctive style around their men’s necks to show that they were spoken for. French soldiers, with whom the Croats served in the Thirty Years War, picked it up as a fashion statement and enshrined it forever—at least until “business casual” came along. Every former schoolboy forced to wear a jacket and necktie to class may now pick up a rock to throw in the direction of Croatia…

Yup, there's a Museum for that! Don't burn that note from the schmuck who dumped you; send it here!

Yup, there’s a Museum for that!

…Except that Croatia has quite enough rocks already, thank you. The place is famous for rocks, in fact. We’ve never seen so many! The country easily could double its size by dumping endless truckloads of rocks from its fields and hills offshore into the Adriatic. That would ruin the Adriatic and put hundreds of beautiful seaside towns far inland, but you get the point. They could probably reach Italy with a good month’s work. In some sections of the country, literally every square meter of arable land has been made that way by clearing the endless small stones out of every field.

Can't park this close to NYC hydrants!

Can’t park this close to NYC hydrants!

They are used to make New England-style dry walls (the stones are smaller and rounder here), which divide the countryside into vineyards, olive groves, and farm plots. From the larger stones, they make tool sheds, field huts, and other buildings. But don’t pity Croatia; it has lots of lush, flat farmland in one of its river deltas.

Gothic South portal at St. Mark's

Gothic South portal at St. Mark’s

The torpedo was invented here, too. What good would submarines be without it? You may not have one of those in your garage, but you probably have more specimens of another Croatian invention in your desk than you will ever use: the pen. The name of that jotter probably came from an Anglo-Saxon grunt meaning stylus or writing instrument, right? Wrong. It was named after its inventor, Slavoljub Eduard Penkala—not a name that rolls easily off the tongue. In one European language, the last part of his surname means “fish,” and no one would be caught dead writing with a fish—hence, the shortened name for his 1907 invention: the Pen. Penkala held a PhD in Organic Chemistry, no less, and, among his many inventions, he also held a patent for a rheumatism drug (a Painkilla?). Read all about him, if you’re inclined: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavoljub_Eduard_Penkala.

Baroque Interior, St. Catherine's

Baroque Interior, St. Catherine’s

One (admittedly inconsequential) implication of the fact of Mr. P’s invention is the consequent need to discredit the term “quill pen.” No one who ever wrote with a feather, when that was the way to scrawl, could have called it a “quill pen.” Penkala had not yet appeared on the scene to jab his “pen” into the lexicon.

Plaque commemorating Nikola Tesla, groundbreaking electrical engineer and inventor of AC.

Nikola Tesla

One could go on and on, no doubt, reeling off Croatian achievements, but Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) simply cannot be passed over. This giant of electrical engineering is responsible for much of the development of electrical power distribution in the USA and around the world. Among his many innovations was alternating current—AC—the “flavor” of the electric juice we get out of our wall sockets.

A memorial at Miragoj Cemetery

A memorial at Miragoj Cemetery

Because this kind of electricity cycles between positive and negative 60 times per second, in contrast to direct current—DC—which is a steady flow in one direction, thousands of us every year don’t freeze up and fry, cartoon style, when we put our fingers in light sockets or spit in the back of a malfunctioning TV. AC and DC were neck-and-neck as the first burned-out light bulbs were being changed, but Tesla won the tussle and I, for one, escaped being buried prematurely with my hair standing on end.

Does Zagreb have a zoo? Yes! Does it have a zebra? Yes, it does! And also a crosswalk on the way to the zoo that looks as if a wet, painted zebra rolled around on the pavement (http://zgzoo.com/en/news-and-events/news/step-closer-to-the-zebra/).

But is the Zagreb Zoo’s Zebra named Zoë, is she zealous, and does she come from Zanzibar or Zimbabwe? Stay tuned (but don’t hold your breath); we’ll send someone over to find out! If all that’s not the case, someone is failing to take advantage of all the promotional possibilities.