Dubrovnik
August 7th - 1:09pm

After finding a place to stay and wandering through the incomparable walled city of Dubrovnik, I emerged harbor-side in desperate need of a toilet. I sat down on the terrace of Arsenal restaurant, ordered this mixed seafood appetizer (marinated anchovies and sardines, fish paste and octopus salad; delicious), and ran into the bathroom. Note to Dubrovnik tourist officials: more bathrooms, please!
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Dubrovnik
August 7th - 1:10pm

The view from my table at Arsenal. I was waiting for the 1:30 ferry to Lokrum, a nearby island with rock beaches, an ancient forest and a hilltop fortress.
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Between Dubrovnik and Lokrum
August 7th - 1:34pm

On the ferry. The walled city is on the left. The ride took around 12 minutes, and was not particularly expensive. Ferries left every half hour and mine had maybe 100 people on it.
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Between Dubrovnik and Lokrum
August 7th - 1:36pm

A better view of the walled city, but believe you me, it's not the last you'll see of it. Lokrum's on the left.
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Lokrum
August 7th - 1:48pm

Rock beaches have the merit of keeping the old and decrepit away, since they're difficult to navigate.
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Lokrum
August 7th - 1:56pm

Fifteen minutes of wandering up the trails in Lokrum resulted in a dramatic decrease in population density. So I could take lovely photos like these undisturbed. For an island that felt dry enough to crumple up and blow away, there were many and variegated trees.
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Lokrum
August 7th - 2:25pm

Wouldn't this make a lovely villa?
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Lokrum
August 7th - 2:25pm

From the fortress (I will spare you photos of the fortress; you've seen enough of them already), old and new Dubrovnik set against the mountains.
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Lokrum
August 7th - 2:29pm

Here you can get a sense of the walled city in its entirety. See, the walls actually surround the whole thing! There are 800-odd buildings within the walls, and the streets in between them range from brand boulevards to little more than stairs. They all have the red tiled roofs that we saw in Mostar, and are packed tightly together — after all, you gotta work with the walls.
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Lokrum
August 7th - 3:32pm

After wandering around the island for a while and getting very warm (it was deep into the 90s), I finally selected a swimming spot. The water was clear as a bathtub and an uncannily perfect temperature. It was very difficult to get out, both metaphorically and physically — the rocks leading down to (and back up from) the water were sharp, slippery and hot, and the tide didn't help. Kept away hoi polloi, though!
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Lokrum
August 7th - 6:13pm

My second swimming spot, this one a bit more popular. The rocks were flatter, and there were ladders into the sea. No less lovely, though, and it was certainly still warm enough to swim at this hour.
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Lokrum
August 7th - 6:34pm

Waiting for the return ferry, a bunch of French tourists were taking pictures of this peacock. Not wanting to feel left out...Peacocks aren't native to anywhere within 3,000 miles of Lokrum, but who's complaining?
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Dubrovnik
August 7th - 7:18pm

This perverse scene, right outside the main gate of the walled city, encapsulates what has gone wrong with Dubrovnik tourist culture, and probably also humanity. If the peacock was out of place, this is just ridiculous.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 8:03am

After a nice seafood dinner with my friends Chris and Jie, my travel partners for the next few days, I took a cab back up the mountain to my lodging, a bedroom in the apartment of a lady who poached me at the bus station. Flagfall was $5 equivalent! Cannot blame the cabbies, since Dubrovnik is small and there are many tourists who'd rather not decipher the bus system. This was the view from the apartment's balcony; could be worse!
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 9:43am

We decided to walk the city walls; a hot, lengthy and crowded ordeal, but with immense rewards. Apologies in advance: there are over a dozen pictures from the walls to come (selected from over sixty that I took. It's worth mentioning that the photos on this site represent only a fifth of the total collection).Group kayaking was among the many popular sporting activities that we just didn't have time for.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 9:46am

Guess what? A fortress!
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 9:47am

Despite the thousand and thousands of tourists that flood into the walled city every day, people actually live there! Like ants, it would seem. There's also a stray cat issue, but they seem generally looked after.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 9:51am

I zoomed in on my watch in the lower right hand corner to see if I could corroborate the timestamp on this photo, but no dice.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 9:54am

Lokrum, in all its glory. There were lots of sailboats in the water, but none with actual sails. Maybe they're just for show?
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 9:58am

One of two cafes situated off the city walls in this manner. I took a swim from the other one, which will appear later on. Drinks were expensive, but not compulsory to swim.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 10:04am

For the sake of visual perspective.It's hard, but not impossible, to estimate how much money Dubrovnik makes from allowing people to walk the walls. They're open nine hours a day, and admission is $10. It's safe to assume that three people a minute ascend, given that the rate was much higher when we arrived at 9:30 in the morning. So that's $15k a day simply to let people walk around! Not bad.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 10:12am

Chris engaging in the most common tourist activity in Dubrovnik. The wall haul estimate in the last photo was inspired by similar calculations Chris and I made that morning about how many photos were taken a day in the old city. I think the figure we came up with was a million.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 10:23am

More of the harbor. Can't get enough.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 10:31am

This looks like one of those guide book photos. The azure waters! The lazy naval lifestyle! Etc.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 10:33am

More red tile roofing. Several hundred roofs were damaged by shelling during the war (was it the Bosniaks? The Serbs? Who can remember), and the city has been slowing replacing the entire lot of them, for consistency. This looks like a hybrid of old and new.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 10:40am

It's amazing that, if one had a camera 200 years ago, this pictures would have been more or less the same.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 10:43am

Could you imagine if they tried to put a Red Roof Inn here? No one would be able to find it!
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 10:49am

The added challenge is, the walled city was built on a steep mountain slope. So the back end of the walls is way higher up than the front end, and it's not ADA-friendly, either.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 10:55am

It takes a very tall sailboat to have this much pop from behind the walls.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 11:54am

After 90 minutes on the walls, we left the old city to recover and refresh. Our plan was to walk to one of the seaside cafes and take a swim, but when we got back to the main entrance, this is the scene which confronted us.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 11:54am

It was insane: hundreds of people trying to get in, hundreds of people trying to get out, resulting in a trickle of one or two people at a time progressing in each direction.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 11:54am

It would not be unprofitable to download the hi-res version of one of these photos and zoom in on the faces, variously registering shock, horror, amusement, and resignation. We promptly turned around and walked to a gate slightly further afield and almost devoid of ingressors or egressors.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 12:02pm

A streetcase down from the underutilized side gate. Chris led the way to the cafe.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 12:35pm

The cafe is marked by a small sign reading "Cold Drinks" just inside the wall, and a low doorway leads to a series of descending ledges with some chairs and tables, a section with a clear trajectory for diving into the sea 20 meters below, and a staircase down to the water. We opted for the latter, where maybe six to ten people were swimming and lounging. A group of perhaps frat boys was taking turns diving off the platform above and generally making a ruckus. But a good time was had by all.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 12:48pm

Chris and Jie and I ambled up to a recommended lunch spot. The proprietors were not impressed by our swimwear, but the same could not be said for passers-by.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 1:32pm

The Adriatic belches out vast quantities of squid for the grilling each and every beautiful day. I cannot explain why, but the squid I had in Bosnia was better, on the whole, than the squid I had in Croatia. This was still pretty good, though.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 2:10pm

Dubrovnik, like many towns and cities across Europe, does not allow (and cannot accommodate in any case) motor vehicles on the streets of its old center. Exceptions are made for beverage trolleys, however. Can't well have a bar without beer deliveries!
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 2:26pm

After lunch, we decided to head to one of the beaches east of the walled city. This is City Beach, which is pleasant enough, but our destination lay a twenty minute walk further along, away from the hordes.
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Dubrovnik
August 8th - 4:49pm

Croatian nationalism stretches from mountain to shining sea.
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Dubrovnik
August 9th - 8:24am

Another vista from my lodgings. It was a 25 minute walk down to the walled city, but for two days, one could manage. Plus, it was cooler in the hills.
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Dubrovnik
August 9th - 8:42am

The final stretch of the walk down to Chris and Jie's hotel, where our rental car and kilometers of windy roads awaited us, was a beautiful terraced street with maybe 125 long steps and very few pedestrians. I was listening to Beck's new album "Modern Guilt," which provided the soundtrack to the latter half of my trip.
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Ston
August 9th - 11:15am

We drove along the stunning coastal road to Ston, a town famous throughout the former Yugoslavia for its oysters. As the only customers in our guidebook's top-rated restaurants in town, we were able to sit right by the window overlooking the water. Here, a fortress!
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Ston
August 9th - 11:28am

It would be easy to imagine that this young man, who I photographed from my seat at the restaurant, was actually picking up oysters from a nearby bed to fill my very order. Of all the fantasies of food freshness, ocean-to-table is the most plausible.
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Ston
August 9th - 11:47am

By this time, the restaurant had started to fill up. But we were still first, so our oysters were the plumpest and purest. Look at these monsters! Fabulous. They were around a buck each, and we had a total of four dozen or so.
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Ston
August 9th - 12:22pm

We also ordered a tub of mussels, which were small and grainy. But we ate them all anyway! Here, post-shellfish coma.
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Ston
August 9th - 12:23pm

Jie, indefatigable, awaited our order of flan. It was dense (in a good way) and the sweetness was well-balanced.
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Ston
August 9th - 12:53pm

Quick, contact the fashion magazines!
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Between Ston and Gradac
August 9th - 1:40pm

At a convenience store along the road, I was moo-ved to photograph these cans of ground beef.
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Gradac
August 9th - 2:18pm

Our next stop along the road was Gradac, which our guidebook claimed had some of the loveliest beaches on the entire coast! Well, at least some of the longest. This is before the main section of beaches, but anywhere it was possible to build a staircase down to the ocean, there was a staircase down to the ocean.
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Gradac
August 9th - 2:19pm

There's not a hell of a lot of room for these towns between the mountains and the sea, but one could think of worse places to live.
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Gradac
August 9th - 2:22pm

Whereas the United States features commercial advertising on every conceivable surface, the former Yugoslavia features nationalism on every conceivable surface — here, a Kosovar left his mark on a slow-healing aloe leaf.I am suddenly reminded of advertising I saw on paper towels in a Berlin bar bathroom. Brilliant!
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Gradac
August 9th - 2:57pm

The scene. Gradac attracts more of a local crowd than Dubrovnik, and it was gratifying to see real people as opposed to a parade of internationals in Dubrovnik. The water wasn't nearly as nice, though; less protected by offshore islands, the beach was churned by the tide and when the larger pebbles slam into your ankles, it's sort of painful.
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Gradac
August 9th - 2:58pm

After the swim.
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Gradac
August 9th - 3:15pm

The jetty appeared to be a popular hangout for local teenagers.
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Split
August 9th - 7:29pm

We made our way to Split, where we had rented an apartment for the night. Split was built out of a 3rd century Roman emperor's retirement villa, and has a casual grace that Dubrovnik lacks. While touristy, Split was also clearly a real city, with several times the population of Dubrovnik and businesses that cater to actual residents. The old part of town is situated in front of a beautiful harbor, and is full of arcades like this.
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Split
August 9th - 7:32pm

After a few drinks at a metal bar in a small courtyard between buildings (Iron Maiden was performing the next night, and metalheads blanketed the town in a hilarious fashion), we found this still life. Chris, who has an understandable affinity for Cristal, insisted we photograph it.
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Split
August 9th - 8:22pm

Twilight along the harbor.
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Split
August 9th - 8:22pm

Blurry, yes, but artfully blurry.
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Split
August 9th - 8:32pm

Perfect for a stroll.
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Split
August 9th - 8:33pm

A maritime building, dramatically lit.
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Split
August 10th - 10:47am

In a plaza near our apartment, a likeness of Diocletian, presumably. He was the emperor whose retirement villa forms the center of town.
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Split
August 10th - 11:28am

A highlight of our visit to Split was the discovery of this cevapi stand. Cevapi is a Bosnian meal comprised of little sausages served on oily bread with onion. The Croatian innovation is the addition of ajvar, a spicy red pepper sauce. They also served beer.
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Split
August 10th - 11:29am

Too enraptured to smile.
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Split
August 10th - 11:29am

The gory details. If not for the fabulously soft and chewy bread, the sandwich wouldn't be nearly as transcendent.Possible improvements (for American commercialization) include grilling the onions, adding solid roasted red pepper, and to make it a breakfast food, scrambled egg. But none of this is strictly necessary.
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Split
August 10th - 1:00pm

Before we left town, we wanted to explore the whole Roman ruins thing. We climbed the tower and were rewarded with more red roofs.
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Split
August 10th - 1:01pm

Very pretty, and certainly more photogenic than the fascinating catacombs we'd spent the previous forty-five minutes wandering around.
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Split
August 10th - 1:05pm

Ooh, octagonal!
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Split
August 10th - 1:13pm

The tower in question. Some parts were clearly very old, others clearly rebuilt. It was always difficult to tell.
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Zadar
August 10th - 3:50pm

We got back into the car and set our sites on Zagreb, around 400km away. This time, we were driving on Croatia's brand-new superhighway, with a posted speed limit around 81mph, but don't tell that to the Germans and Austrians, who were doing 100 easy.Anyway, we stopped in Zadar, a less touristy but still very amenable college town further up the coast from Split. This sculpture along the quay eluded comprehension.
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Zagreb
August 10th - 9:02pm

We found our next apartment without much trouble, and it was a grand; apartments are clearly the way to stay in this neck of the woods. It was tough to find a restaurant on Sunday night in this sleepy Catholic capital; this guy didn't have any suggestions, and his English was terrible. Eventually we found a suitable spot which served delicious fried cheese and grilled lamb.
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Zagreb
August 10th - 11:18pm

Stumbling home after what became a very boozy dinner (Chris and I fell into the habit of making sure we sampled every restaurant's ostensibly homemade brandies and slivovices), this trolley threatened our safety and well-being. So I froze it in time with my camera.
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Zagreb
August 11th - 12:01pm

The next day, we set out to explore Zagreb. It's a cute town, with lower commercial and government and upper historical and residential sections, but as I noted, it kind of shuts down after dark (of course, the guidebook kept mentioning nightlife, but who pays attention to that?). This was a lovely old park (the giant oak trees means it wasn't destroyed during the war) flanked by embassies and other vestiges of officialdom. Note the sleeping backpacker in the background.
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Zagreb
August 11th - 12:12pm

This statue of King Tomislav, the very first leader of the Kingdom of Croatia back in the 10th century, was ordered down by Tito during the unification days, and promptly restored to a central location upon independence in the early 90s. He cuts a dashing figure.
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Zagreb
August 11th - 12:39pm

In the Botanical Gardens, Chris and I fought photographically for the heart and soul of this allergen-producing bauble.
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Zagreb
August 11th - 12:52pm

A Hapsburgian yellow showpiece, housing a museum.
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Zagreb
August 11th - 12:55pm

Its twin, across the garden.
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Zagreb
August 11th - 2:17pm

A bizarre tile mosaic beneath the funicular connecting the upper and lower cities. I feel dirty just looking at it. The advertisements for Princess Night Club were ubiquitous around the city (leading one to think that was the entirety of evening entertainment). Also, it was hot out and the cold that I had caught in Split was reaching its apex by this time.
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Zagreb
August 11th - 2:38pm

Chris insisted on being photographed here with this background, and he was totally right. This was along a lovely residential street that seemed content to only go lazily upward without any intersections. Eventually, we had to turn back.
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Zagreb
August 11th - 2:45pm

But not before we took the obligatory three-friends-each-taking-a-picture-of-themselves-in-a-convex-mirror shot
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Zagreb
August 11th - 3:13pm

How freakin' organized is this! Your parking spot is delineated by your license plate number. It didn't exactly hold up for every car on the street, but all the easier for the police to issue citations. This practice of parking half on the curb seems ubiquitous throughout old, narrow Europe, but it's hell on pedestrianism.
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Zagreb
August 11th - 10:49pm

We rested and recovered after our very long walk around town (gelato was involved, the best we had in Croatia), and then went out for dinner in a fashionable part of town. It seemed like there were two restaurants, a steakhouse and a seafood place, at the same location, and we were given the steakhouse menu based on a quick read of our faces, maybe? It was a very opaque process. So, too, was the ordering. I ordered "veal nuts" and hoped I was getting baby cow testicles, or at least pecan-encrusted veal. Instead, it was just a cutlet, and salty at that. But it didn't really matter, because the foie gras appetizer had won me forever in the restaurant's favor.The waiter was charming in the way that so many Croatian waiters seemed to be charming: screwing something up, like ignoring us for 20 minutes or not having various things on the menu, but then appearing to be sincerely apologetic, utterly frank in their assessments and generally clever of wit. We never did find out why we weren't offered lobster, though.This golden Jesus statue (which reminds me of the golden roses from Vienna) was across from Zagreb's giant church.
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