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29 May 17

We Croats Love Our Summer Tourist Hell

Borna Sor

Endless lines of traffic stuck in the heat may be a nightmare for foreign tourists - but for us Croats, it's a sign of our success!

April's ques on Croatia-Slovenia border. Photo: Beta

Some countries are blessed with peace. Some with honest political systems. There are countries blessed with history so great that it makes you feel small, and those blessed with a culture so rich that it makes you grow just by standing next to it.

Then there are top holiday destinations. Like us in Croatia. Blessed with beautiful nature, and in the vicinity of many European nations needing a rest, Croatia gets into a lot of «Top 10 destinations this summer you should visit if you want to forget that you are a working drone and also mortal.» And that is great for us Croats.

The seaside is the specifically desired location.  It has a specific place in our mythology. Just like the seventh day is the day of rest, so the seventh month of the year is a resting month.  And, during summer, everybody wants to get near some big body of water and just jump in.

So it is traditional that every year half of the country takes the trip down south, joined by millions of foreign tourists from all over the world, seeking respite on Croatia's thousand-plus islands with their unique, unpronounceable names. Some come by plane, some by bus or on a boat, but most come by car.

You know what I most love about the summer? The trip. Sitting in your car, listening to a local radio station, enjoying the seaside with the summer breeze in your hair. Miles and miles of highway, kilometres of roads, and millions of streets. And you are not moving. You are just waiting. Stuck in a traffic jam. Every season. Stuck for miles, for hours, in the scorching sun. I love it.

For a normal family, travelling to their little hidden piece of Mediterranean bliss, waiting in long lines can be stressful. Let's say you are coming from Germany, driving your state-of-the-art vehicle from the marches of Prussia all the way to Croatia. You know it's not a short trip, but when you enter our highways, suddenly, there is a mile-long traffic jam in front of you, and the travelling stops.

Maybe there was an accident near one of the tunnels, or the border patrol is having problems with documents. The toll booths are not working, or the wind has stopped the traffic on the bridge. Maybe the ferries are full, and there is no parking lot near the camp.  Or maybe it's just «road repairs», while they perfect the roads for the next tourist season. Every year.

So, a normal person stops his car and waits. He moves one meter every 10 minutes, then every half-hour. The German is getting visibly agitated, opens a window, throws out a cigarette. Kids are yelling, his wife trying to sleep. He gives the other drivers looks of incredibility but gets no support in return, just tired faces behind big sunglasses. He doesn't understand what is happening. Why is it all taking so long? He gets frustrated, and gets out of the car, looking into the distance, like an Apache tracker, trying to see some movement - but the river of cars lies still.

He gets mad, and Germans hate getting mad because it makes them angry. And he is not alone. He finds a Polish family, a couple of Dutch campers and a bus from Slovakia. They all make a plan and decide to make a break for it. They find a place where the road railing is missing and go offroad. They don't care about the cars, they just need to move or they will lose their minds.

Not like us Croats. We love every moment of it. Long waits, long lines, the heat spreading madness, endless trails of foreign car plates. For us it all means success. Every year we have a record tourist season, and all those millions who come to us each year are the sole reason we are not bankrupt yet. For us, the longer the line, the better the year.

«How long is the line?» «On the Slovenian border, it's about 20 miles» «20 miles?! That's amazing, that is four miles longer than the last year. If we are lucky, next year it could be 25!» So runs a normal Croatian conversation. Every year, we hope for bigger traffic jams, for the highways to be even more blocked, and our streets to be even more crowded.

So much so that a legend has been created – that one day, there will be such a season that the lines become so long that they merge into one.

On that glorious summer day, so many people will come to Croatia, that there will be one, unbroken, unmoving line of cars all the way from the borders to every beach and bay. All will be one, all will be the line. Like blood vessels, only made from metal and rubber, spreading to all corners of our top holiday destination, giving it life.  One day.

Talk about it!

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