It is nearly the beginning of August, and it sure feels like it. Last week we were blessed by some summer showers to break the heat spell, and that worked out well with my trip to the south of France.
No I did not lie on the beach in San Tropez but went to a great training seminar near Marseilles. Regarding the Provencial scenery, I was deeply impressed. As I told my kids, where we live is #1 but this place is, in my humble opinion #2.
The great classical painter Cezanne based many of his oil paintings on the Provencial landscaping. I truly felt like I was living inside of one of his paintings. With Mount Saint Victoire in the background I felt like I might be standing on holy ground.
Back to reality and the superhighway (not a hint of terrorism anywhere), all I could see was that “here is worse than where I live!”. I picked up a half-dozen items – Haribo candies, Italian amoreto cookies, snacks, headphones and cell phone plug in auto charger (about half price compared to Croatia) but otherwise, there were more cars, more people, more dead grass, and … except for a truly impressive sea and mountain passage near Antibes, France, I’d have to say “so what”!
Ljubljana gave me inspiration, as if I was in the state of Oregon in the USA:. lots of green, bicycles, quite clean, well organized and efficient. A friendly McDonalds greeted me near the autobus terminal. I have to say, the Balkans are highly underestimated. Coming back to Zagreb seemed best of all. “Like Europe exists in all of our imaginations” …small cars due to limited parking opportunities (these cities are old!) with quaint and still fresh pastel three story homes, huge windows with wonderful architectural trims from 100 o more years ago (Sessesionist designs mainly), lots of mature shade trees, fruit on at least half of them, and a real feeling of peace and security as if to say “nothing could ever happen to you here”. It seems that half the city had in fact left town for the seaside, but nevertheless, thanks to the recent rain, it was fresh and nice, and the normally hot pavement wasn’t so unbearable.
So now I am back home in Zadar and as they say “there is no place like home”. I feel lucky that I ended up in probably one of the cleanest countries in Western Europe, and hope it somehow stays that way in spite of being peak season, and perhaps the most popular tourist destination in Europe and most of the world.