Wednesday, 16 May 2012

You Know You're NOT in Canada When...

Maybe a good portion of the fun of being in Croatia were the things that were so - un-Canadian.  Different.

And by extension, those things which were so distinctly not from my Canadian experiences were that much more interesting because they were out of the scope of any previous experiences.

Case in point - you know you're NOT in Canada when you are walking along on a cobblestone street lined with shops on the ground floor which are operating out of buildings built in the 12th-14th centuries.  So NOT Canada.

These shops are accessed by ancient heavy doors and odd mis-matched floor levels; their wares are showcased in windows which are set into stones too ancient to date.

You know you are NOT in Canada when you are wandering among Venetian palaces from bygone days.  Windows from fairy tales peep curiously at tourists below.  In Croatia, the Venetian influence is everywhere.  History links Venice to Croatia through numerous political and social ties stretching back hundreds of years.

Doorways, windows, 'Romeo and Juliet' balconies - all cry out with a Venetian voice and point to the heavy influence of the city across the Adriatic.

The stones used in construction have been carved from the very earth - a readily available and incredibly useful resource springing from its bowels.  The variations in style and structure testify to the creativity of masons from Medieval days to modern times.

The stone itself is beautiful - but when coupled with greenery, the effects can be stunning.

Many homes had vines crawling along and over doorways and windows to shade the occupants in their comings and goings from the intense Mediterranean heat.  Window boxes filled with brilliant geraniums added a touch of whimsy to cold stone fronts.

Grapes, kiwis, passionflowers - we saw many of these growing luxuriously around doorways.  In November, the kiwis were hanging, plump orbs of sweetness - a tempting treat!

One last example of architecture I had never seen before - covered parking lots!  In Canada, these would be torn apart by the sheer weight of snow and become ridiculous.  I can just imagine a city worker's complaints at having to clear the snow from the parking covers!  You know you're definitely not in Canada when the covers over the cars are to protect vehicles from blistering in the heat of summer!

Each example of 'This is SO not Canada!' was special to me.  Each spoke of another time, another place, and as pupil, I was delighted at the course offering.  I determined to take in everything, devouring Croatia, ingesting its delights - I wanted to remember!  (Did I ever study this hard for my REAL exams? )

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