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Monday, 21 September 2009

Top 10 Reasons To Be Proud Of Being Croatian.






I have some spare time again so I thought I would do another fun little post. However, this one was kind of difficult, very difficult actually. Narrowing down the reasons of why one is proud to be Croat to include just 10 measly reasons is not an easy task, there's just so much I have to leave out. So I just went with what came to the top of my head first, mainly reasons that don't get too involved with history, which again leaves a lot out. These are just sort of spontaneous and obvious reasons.  I'm sure there will be Croatians out there "in the internets" thinking how could I not include so and so or what about this place or that event or bla bla bla.....

I decided to do this also because everyone out there has "Top Reasons To Be Proud Of......"  lists. I saw some that are "Top 15 Reasons", "Top 20" and even "Top 25 Reasons To Be..."  Why I even came across lists and some very polished up and chock-full of information videos from Ukrainians, Germans, Hungarians, Norwegians, Somalians, Polish, Haitians, Argentinians, Scottish, Montenegrins, Palestinians, Jews, Greeks, Lithuanians, Russians, Japanese and many, many more, all related to being proud of their background. (Look, Joao Francisco is proud to be Portuguese, these guys are proud, so why goshdarnit and dagnabit shouldn't other people be proud of their heritage too gee willickers and heavens to Betsy?)  There's plenty of weekend and daily television shows all focusing on the pride of and information concerning various ethnic backgrounds. I've even seen "Proud To Be..." t-shirts and buttons of nationalities that most people have probably never even heard of, or at least would have trouble finding on a map. Heck, local television (example) has scheduled programming from all the major ethnic groups with shows focusing on events, stories and information all concerning their ethnic group. (There's even a guy who makes it into the news once in a while for making taliban-esque and fundamentalist statements, such as the benefits of stoning people, he's still on television even these days) Besides, believe me, just for the famous Croatians alone was very difficult, what with all the artists, writers, the Croatian language, our own Croatian alphabet and a literary history that reaches back well over a thousand years ago, medieval kings, queens and royalty, political figures, scientists, sports personalities, fashion designers, models, not to mention modern world renowned film and music festivals, Croatian manufactured and designed trains, cars, military equipment and even computers and smartphones these days, the list goes on and on. (Croatians have contributed a lot to the modern world through the centuries, and still are)  All this was done the hard way too.  Since first arriving to our present lands around the 6-7th centuries right up to the medieval Kingdom of Croatia, we  had many obstacles to overcome and it was a very eventful, complicated and at times dangerous time for Croatia(ns) existence.  Wedged in between various world empires and at times being the battlefield that directly affected the history of Europe. From the fall of the Roman empire to today.  Much more about about this topic at croatianmedievalhistory.blogspot.ca





 Yep, a lot has happened since even just 879.  That's over 1134 years worth of people, places and events to have to sift through.  (Notwithstanding the Duke Trpimir Beneficiary or Cividale Gospel from Trpimir's time which extend back further and document even to the 8th century the Regnum Chroatorum - "Realm of Croats" and  Dux Chroatorum - "Duke of Croats".  After first arriving to the Adriatic and Dalmatia in the 6th-7th centuries, the first international recognition of Croatia came in 879 from Pope John VIII, (Image of the actual letter above)  It was sent to Duke Branimir on May 21 in the year 879 with his blessing to the "glorious Croatian Duke, the whole Croatian people and lands.  This was the first time that the Croatian nation and state was officially recognized.  (at that time the international legitimacy was given by the Pope) This actually makes Croatia one of the oldest Nation States in all of Europe. The same people with the same ethnic name (which we brought with us) existing continually in the same lands, even before the majority of many other European countries came into existence. More Here






Situated at first between Byzantium and the Western Frankish empire, conquering Avars, at times battling Byzantium,, the Frankish Empire, Norman raiders, the Bulgarian empire, (Even taking part in attacking occupied Bari and saving southern Italy from Arab armies) then dealing with larger competing empires such as the Venetians, Austrians, Hungarians, Napolean's empire, and all the while still defending against the constant threat to ourselves and Europe from the Turkish Ottoman empire for centuries.  (Can't forget the short lived bad romance of "Yugoslavia" either, both versions, bad romance not just for Croatia(ns) either)  Croatia was/is at the very crossroads of where history was made. Not just Croatian history either, but histories that affected all of Europe, of the civilized world.  (See previous post HERE)

We weren't lucky enough like the early pioneers in the New World who basically could make their new country/lands bigger just by traveling as far as the eye can see, day after day, without a problem or military involvement.  "Well, chalk up another 200 miles for the general, tomorrows another day, This country making business is pretty easy stuff".... So anyway, enough of the history talk, this was just a short bit of background info about who we are and where we come from, we've been around quite some time and aren't going anywhere.  If you like my choices or disagree, are outraged or even just confused, feel free to comment. (My spontaneous Top 10 list is in no particular order btw, just throwing it out there. A cool recently started website that expounds on my choices below, and much more information at www.likecroatia.hr. Since I have some photography background, I also recommend pinterest.com/croatia for some cool random photos of Croatian locations and scenery)


* Note- The below list was just the top of my head.  I may do another similar type post down the road entitled something like "Top Things You Won't See In Croatia" or "Top Things Croatia Doesn't Have"  or "Top Things Croatia Should Never Ever Have."  I think though that for post I would make 25 reasons at least and very good reasons added too. I guarantee the reader it will be very informative and interesting.










The Croatian Adriatic Sea Coastline




This is a no-brainer for me. With over 4000 km of coastline and over 1000 islands, the blue Adriatic is breathtaking to behold. With awesome smooth pebbled and sandy beaches for swimming, diving, yachting, windsurfing and vast amounts of natural wonders to explore.  Always in close proximity to other great sites, historic or just restaurants, cafes and bars.  I think this should be on any Top 10 list. It is also home to many forms of marine life as well as a great source for tons of great tasting seafood dishes. More info here.




 Images of some Croatian beaches and islands.












Janica Kostelić



Considered to be one of the best female skiers of all time, she was the only woman to win four gold medals in alpine skiing at the Winter Olympics (in 2002 and 2006), and the only woman to win three alpine skiing gold medals in one Olympics (2002). With a career that was cut short by health problems and multiple operations, she is still nonetheless considered by many to be the greatest Croatian athlete. She really put Croatia on the map in the sports world, with some assistance from her brother, also a World Champion skier, Ivica Kostelić.















Our Croatian Sports Fans



There's a couple of tongue in cheek slogans we Croats have, especially when we show up to cheer on our teams and players in international sport competitions around the world. "Malo Nas Je, Al Nas Ima" ("We Are Only Few, But We Are Here" or better..."There Aren't Many Of Us, But We're Around") and "Jebote Kolko Nas Ima". ("Fuck It How Many Of Us There Are") You have to remember there are only around 4.5 million people in Croatia, there are actually more Croats outside of Croatia) Either way, our fans always show their support, whether 10,000 or 100 show up at an event. Another personal favorite of mine which used occasionally is "Neka Pati Koga Smeta", meaning..."Suffer If It Bothers You."  That basically means ...well, anyone who has a problem with it I guess. Gotta be yourself.  What are you gonna be? Chinese? Brazilian? Japanese? Hindi? Klingon? etc......


 
 
 
 
 
The Old And New City Of Zagreb



I don't think this list of mine would be complete without adding the city of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. The hip and bustling metropolis which blends the new with the old, from trendy shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, and entertainment and sports centers to buildings, parks and works of art which remind one of it's rich historic and cultural past and present. (There are many cities and towns in Croatia with this blend of old history with the new, so maybe I shouldn't have picked just 1 city. More about this at www.likecroatia.hr
 
 
 
 Zagreb at night
 
 
 
 
 The city that is proud to have it's own sort of dialect ( kajkavski) and is the business, arts, political and manufacturing heart of Croatia. One of the slogans of the Purgers is..."Zagreb..City Of A Million Hearts". (Purgers is the local Croatian nickname) Totally apropos I think, in regards to the time I spent there recently. More information about Zagreb can be found at www.zagreb-touristinfo.hr



Areal view of the city of Zagreb.





Zagreb Tourist Board video












Plitvice Lakes National Park     
      


The gorgeous Plitvice Lakes National Park located in the Lika region are one of the most visited parks in Europe. The 16 Lakes that comprise the park have been popular for centuries from Kings, Queens and Emperors, to Presidents and Prime Ministers. Not to mention the average tourist or Croatian citizen. The waters are renown for their mesmerizing colors ranging from azure to green, gray or blue. It is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and is home to many different breeds of animals and birds. I had the chance to visit here when I was 12 and look forward to seeing this amazing place again. For more information visit www.np-plivicka-jezera.hr











Karlovačko Pivo      
   

A bottle of Karlovacko beer, also pictured the Croatian made HS2000 - XD    

     
 

Croatian beers and bikinis go hand in hand. A related bikini post Here.  





Karlovačko beer is the most popular and best known beer brand in Croatia. It is great tasting and has been brewed since 1854 in the city of Karlovac, just south of Zagreb, right up to this day. Nobody who visits Croatia must pass up an opportunity to savor the great taste of this great beer. (If you do, you may be charged with being a spy, hehe)   Karlovačko makes one feel very fizzy good. I walked by the brewery quite a few times when visiting Karlovac the past few times. It's logo is about as Croatian as you can get. Some people have gone so far as to get tattoos of the logo. Now that's a faithful beer connoisseur. Karlovačko is also a sponsor to many sporting and other events and is known for having some of the most amusing commercials (reklama/spotovi) in Croatia. (I should also mention Ožujsko beer, who although a competitor, also make a fine tasting beer and also have amusing television commercials: www.ozujsko.com




 
Some Karlovacko beer commercial moments. More can viewed at www.youtube.com/user/IdemoNaKarlovacko      




A closer view of the Karlovačko beer logo, with the coat of arms of the city of Karlovac at the top.










 Coastal City of Split    
   


This was an obvious choice for me too. I won't get into details because I touched upon this city in my very first post and there's too much information to cover. If you want to know more about this cool seaside city click onto the official city of Split website at www.split.info Let's just say my 2 days there were very enjoyable. 'Nuff said.



    









  Croatian Ćevapi      
     

 C'mon. We're talking Ćevapi here! Hellooo! McFly! As a side note, I should mention Croatian food in general. Here is a popular recipe site in Croatia that might be of interest: www.coolinarika.com  










Goran Ivanišević    
         


I don't think any list would be complete without Goran. You can say what you want about him, but you can read my post from a few days ago HERE, as for the reasons why he is on my list. Croatia's first Wimbledon Champion and an eccentric entertaining tennis player that brought the attention of the tennis world (and non-tennis world) to Croatia.












The walled city of Dubrovnik      
 


This ancient walled city on Croatia's southern Dalmatian coast is also listed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sights. I haven't been there yet, but it is on my list. It has a very rich, ancient and storied history, and is home to a long list of famous Croatian writers, politicians, poets, and artists. One of the most famous sons of Dubrovnik was Ivan Gundulić. A writer/poet who wrote some of the most beautiful verses in the Croatian language almost 400 years ago. They are so synonymous that he and the city of Dubrovnik are featured on the Croatian 50 Kuna note. Dubrovnik was where some of the most famous Croatian literary works were penned for centuries.  To find out  more about the long and interesting history of Dubrovnik and the goings on there these days, check out www.tzdubrovnik.hr


 






          
The reverse of the Croatian 50 Kuna note featuring the old city of Dubrovnik.   


      
The front of the Croatian 50 Kuna note with the image of writer/poet Ivan Gundulić.  





    
Another famous son of Dubrovnik was the great Croatian artist Vlaho Bukovac (1855–1922), This is a famous painting of his, which also happens to be one of my favorite Croatian works of art, serendipitously titled "Gundulićev san".(Gundulić's Dream).  A painting that I was fortunate enough to admire in person at the Modern Gallery (Moderna Galerija) in Zagreb. (It's a huge painting in person btw) More information about Ivan Gundulić at: ivangunduliccroatianpoet.blogspot.ca





*Note -  This one can be applied also, if one is so inclined,  to replace any of the above "Top 10 Reasons..."  For the reason (and quite possibly the best reason of all) ...that Croats (Hrvati) just like numerous other peoples, quite simply are not  Serbs. (Oh, and maybe because we were never bombed by NATO and we don't have a whole wing at the Hague named after us, we don't eat Serbian church bread or even go to Serb church to listen to Serb church cult gurus, and we don't have a history of ethnically cleansing, massacres and killing neigbouring peoples for centuries and making them Serb church heroes either, trying constantly to steal other peoples lands, histories and even their music for centuries and many other great Non-serb reasons) More about the interesting topic of early Croatian (and even European) history can be found at croatianearlyhistory.blogspot.ca
 





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