Have you preordered Housekeeping yet? It releases in 4 days. To celebrate, there will be a tweetaway very soon. You should follow @dreamspinners on Twitter right away and keep your eyes open, especially if you’re in a European time zone (or you’re a nightowl or early bird in the USA).
Roughly 800,000 people live in Zagreb. On Saturday mornings, nearly every one of those people converges on a few square blocks in the center of the city for a ritual called spica (pronounced shpeetzah). The ritual requires that you shop at dolac, the big greenmarket, and meet your friends at one of the zillion cafes for coffee. You will dress up for this, and possibly get your hair done as well. You might also do some shopping for clothes, shoes, or whatever catches your eyes in the stores. You will probably hang out at the main square, taking part in whatever festival is going on or maybe just waiting for your tram. Then you go home and have a big midafternoon lunch with your whole family.
I live right smack in the middle of this. I wish I could convey with words the crowds and bustle, the way people chat with their usual purveyors at the market, the rumble of ten thousand conversations going on at once, the calls of friends greeting each other. There is no equivalent to this in the US, and I haven’t seen the like elsewhere in Europe. I imagine it’s a much larger version of what market days must have been like in medieval times.
I have some photos from this morning. You can click on them to see them big.
And here’s a corner of dolac. Today I bought a kilo of apples for 4 kuna (70 US cents), and also a kilo of potatoes for 4 kuna. And a large bottle of homegrown honey for 20 kuna. I managed everything in Croatian. The people selling the stuff are the people who grew it, and they always have a pleasant smile for their customers.
This is about a block from the main square. It’s the sun. Several years ago an artist made planets to go with it. He scattered his planets around town, each of them at the appropriate distance–to scale–from the sun. So Pluto is way out in the suburbs somewhere (it was still a planet then). He didn’t tell anyone where he’d put them, so for months there was a sort of city-wide scavenger hunt as people searched for planets.
When we lived here 2 years ago, this was my daughter’s favorite cafe. They have very good ice cream.
This is Flower Square, one of the main places to meet for coffee. That’s the Eastern Orthodox church on the right. (Over 90% of Croatians are Catholics, but there are a few Eastern Orthodox, Muslims, and Jews.)
Saturday is also a good day to gather petitions or, if you’re a Hari Krishna, have a parade. I caught this photo from my window right after I got home.
Spica is one of the many things I miss about Zagreb when I’m not here.