Date: November 17, 2001

In case you've been wondering, Meredith and I haven't fallen off the edge of the
earth. We would have written sooner, but we've been busy getting settled in and
having a good time in Zagreb. Future trip reports will inflict descriptions of
what we're each doing for work and similar fascinating experiences upon the
unwary reader. You have been warned!

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			Getting from "A" to "Z"

The first in a series of sporadic reports on our experiences in Croatia and
other places. 

To begin, a brief historical interlude.

	For the 1998-1999 academic year, Meredith and I lived in Ankara,
	Turkey. She taught American Literature at Bilkent University,
	while I managed the computer system for the associated prep
	school and taught computers in the IB program.

	After traveling in Europe by motorcycle for a few weeks,
	we returned to the US, where Meredith was teaching at Mary
	Washington College in Fredericksburg, VA (about 50 miles south
	of Washington, DC).

	Fast forward through two years of commuting, strip malls,
	Meredith teaching a demanding schedule at Mary Washington, Mark's
	experience working at one of the founders of the commercial
	internet and then with a start-up.

	In March, Meredith was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach
	American Literature at the University of Zagreb. After the usual
	rush of packing up, made much easier by being the second time
	around for us to do this kind of thing, we were off!

You Picked a Bad Time To Leave (with apologies to Lucille)

	We left the US from Newark, NJ for Croatia on September 20,
	2001. Airline regulations, routes and security were still very
	much in flux in response to the terrorist acts of September 11th.
	Among other things, this meant that we were told on the evening
	of the 18th that we could not bring any excess or overweight
	baggage. None of the usual carriers (UPS, FedEx, Airborne, Emory)
	were shipping freight, or at least not for less than many times
	the cost of our goods, and none of the airlines were taking
	personal goods as cargo.  This made the logistics of an overseas
	move for at least a year much more difficult. Specifically,
	we didn't bring things like winter clothing.  Shoes. An
	umbrella. Luckily, a friend volunteered to follow us a few weeks
	later with two additional bags of our stuff (thanks, Graham!),
	and we coerced someone else into hauling yet another bag later
	(thanks, Neda!).

	On the afternoon of the 20th, we found out that our flight--and
	in fact the scheduled route--was canceled for the indefinite
	future, as Lufthansa didn't have enough passengers booked
	on that particular schedule from Newark to Frankfurt to
	continue flying. While there was a great deal of confusion,
	our travel agent (Pan-Adriatic in NYC) re-booked us on United,
	going Newark->Washington DC->Frankfurt (the final leg, Croatian
	Airlines from Frankfurt to Zagreb was unchanged). This turned
	out to be a good thing, as United let us take our pet parrot,
	the Grinch, with us in the cabin, instead of putting him in an
	animal compartment, as Lufthansa insisted.

	Due to a weather delay in DC, we missed our connection to Zagreb
	the next morning in Frankfurt, and had a 7 hour wait for the
	next flight.  We finally made it out of the airport in Zagreb
	at about 9:30pm on September 21, about 31 hours after we entered
	Newark airport. Whew!

Location, Location, Location
	After getting a taxi at the airport, we went to our new
	apartment. We had visited Zagreb in July for a couple of days,
	and looked at several apartments. Shortly after we returned
	to the US in early July, we heard of another apartment that
	was available. We got a good description via e-mail, and even
	though we hadn't seen the place, we had a general feeling about
	the location, and decided to commit to it, sight-unseen. As it
	turns out, we ended up in a lovely, roomy 2 bedroom apartment on
	the ground floor of a private home. It's about a 6 minute walk
	down the hill (12 minutes up!) to a nice square with a daily
	market and shops, and about 10 minutes to the tram lines.

	The apartment is on the street that houses the president's
	mansion and many embassies, though most are much, much further
	up the hill.

	for photos & such.

Fun & Games
	We wanted to ship our motorcycle from the US (as we did when we
	went to live in Turkey), but with the terrorism in the US, none
	of the airlines were shipping cargo.  I knew someone in Paris who
	was selling his Yamaha, and I went there to get it from him. I
	had a nice time riding it back to Croatia.  I wasn't in tourist
	mode, and this was the first weekend in October, so I planned a
	pretty direct route from Paris back to Zagreb.	However, it was
	warm enough that I that I ended up taking country roads in France
	and doing some alpine passes in Switzerland and Italy instead of
	staying on the autoroute.  In fact, I took the Oberalp pass and
	avoided the Gotthard tunnel (where there was the truck crash
	and fire the next week). The Splugen pass was a lot of fun!
	Of course, I paid for that with rain and fog through Italy,
	but that's what the Autostrada is for.

	As for the new's the "same" bike as I had before-a
	1994 Yamaha GTS, although this one has different saddlebags
	(see the photo on the web site).  When you figure in what I
	"save" on freight charges to ship the US GTS to here, it's a good
	deal. How's that for a rationalization that if a motorcycle is
	somehow necessary, it's then a good value? :)

	It's getting chilly here (we got our first snowfall last week),
	but Meredith and I did manage to hop on the bike and get out to
	the largest of the Adriatic islands, Krk (nope, no vowels there)
	for a weekend 3 weeks ago.

	It was a good weekend...chilly and grey leaving Zagreb, but
	by the time we were halfway to the coast--in about 1 hour--it
	was sunny and the roads got better and better. It was warm and
	sunny riding along the Adriatic. The island of Krk was nice, and
	almost devoid of tourists. Our hotel (the only one still open for
	the season) was mainly filled with a large wedding party. We're
	really looking forward to getting back to the coast when things
	are in full swing!

	Riding back to Zagreb, we found some wonderful way-way back roads
	(a bit of gravel, terrific views, many hairpins, pretty small
	villages) that took us from warmth on the coast up about 1000
	meters to sudden fall foliage and crisp weather. It was quite
	reminiscent of a nice day's riding in New England, but of course
	the road signs are somewhat different:

Rocks in my head?
	OK, so maybe I've got rocks in my head, but as soon as we started
	researching the idea of moving to Croatia, I was excited by
	the number of opportunities to go rock climbing here. There's
	a tremendous number of climbers and locations here, with some
	amazing routes (particularly near the coast, in Paklenica). Here
	in Zagreb there are 2 or 3 climbing clubs that meet weekly! I've
	been out to a local crag near Zagreb, to a pretty spot in Slovenia
	for an afternoon, and last weekend to an area where the climbs
	literally begin and end amongst the ruins of an ancient castle.

	So, what do you think the turnout in the US would be like for a
	day-long intro climbing class in 35 degree weather, with lots of
	mist, snow on the ground, and a 1 1/2hr drive to the crag? Well,
	here in Zagreb there were about 16 people! I went to climb
	a little and hang out a lot, there were about 4 or 5 "senior"
	people from the club as instructors, and the rest were students.
	It was actually a fun day. Sure, your hands were quite chilly at
	the top of the short climbs, but the rock was dry and clean and
	it was neat to look down on the snow! Oh, the nearest mountain
	lodge (full restaurant, actually) was about 120~180 away (guess
	the minutes?  meters? how about _seconds_!).

Cafe Society
	Zagreb is a lively, active city with "Old World" charm, a
	serious fashion sense, and a nice warmth and energy. Before the
	weather turned chilly, the cafes on each street and square were
	overflowing across every sidewalk. It's a city where people
	stroll and window-shop endlessly.  We got out of a movie at
	about 1:45am on a Saturday night, and there were so many people
	out and about that it seemed to be hours earlier.

	Even now that winter is beginning to set it, it's a city full of
	people strolling and meeting outside.

Food, Glorious Food
	Meredith and I are vegetarians. Traditionally, Croatia has a
	very "meat heavy" diet. Since bringing a few extra suitcases
	loaded with food was not an option, we've been very pleasantly
	surprised to find that tofu, TVP, and other vegetarian staples
	are readily available at places like the corner grocery store
	and the daily open air market. The city's best vegan restaurant
	is about an 8 minute walk from our apartment (we go that often),
	and they have a wonderful little shop. Even many items that are
	somewhat "exotic", such as nori seaweed and wasabi mustard for
	making sushi, can be found at many grocery stores.

	Getting away from unusual food, the Croatian diet, particularly
	along the coast or on the Istrian peninsula, has a strong Italian
	influence.  The pizza available at any local place rivals the
	best we've had in Italy, and dishes like risotto with truffles
	or black squid ink are very common.

	Like it or not, it's turned colder, and it's getting dark much
	too soon. Being a little further north than we were used to
	(5 degrees higher latitude than NYC, 6 more than VA or Ankara)
	seems noticeable somehow.

	Right now, we're living about a hundred meters up a hill. Most of
	Zagreb is flat, but this little elevation is enough that we had
	intermittent snow flurries last Thursday, when it was just rain
	down on the square. It wasn't cold enough to really stick where we
	are, but the next day we could see that the hills further north,
	up to the national park at Sljeme (at about 800m elevation),
	had a solid covering of snow. It wasn't enough to really ski on
	(yes, there's skiing at Sljeme, and the slopes are accessible
	from Zagreb by public transportation--tram to an enclosed gondola
	cable car) and it was all melted in a couple of days.

	Do you want to know what the weather's like here? Check out:

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Mark Bergman					Meredith Goldmsith-Bergman
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