Prior to our journey to Croatia for the International Wine Tourism Conference, I conducted an email interview with several wineries in Croatia. One winemaker made a reference that his vineyards sloped to the Mediterranean Sea. Wanting to check my facts I began to research and found that the Adriatic Sea is a part of the Mediterranean Sea. While at the conference, the writers, tour operators and guests had dinner at a restaurant in Zagreb. In conversation, I mentioned that the Adriatic Sea was a part of the Mediterranean Sea. The tour operator next to me, from a country north of Italy, launched into a thirty minute non-stop tirade. She informed me of three points that I obviously didn’t know or understand.
The first point was that there is no connection between the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Her second point was that one can not see Italy from Croatian’s coast because the distance across the Adriatic is 2,000 miles. To further her cause she informed us that it takes three to four days to cross the Adriatic from Croatia to Italy. The other people at the table fell silent as she continued to lecture us on the geography of the region. The single Croatian at our table just couldn’t refrain from humor as he pantomimed rowing a boat at he statement that it takes three to four days to cross the Adriatic.
Of course this verbal assault ruined my dinner for the evening. My hope is that when the person who sat next to me returns home she will research the geography of the area to re-confirm her positions. I do admire passion. Kathy and I love to experience the passion for wine we encounter time and time again by owners, winemakers wine growers and wine enthusiasts. I’ve heard of the phrase “ugly American” in reference to Americans traveling in Europe. I have experienced two people that fit this term. I also experienced hundreds of Americans that do not fit this term. The four Americans at our dinner table were quiet, respectfully listening and knew that it would have been futile to throw gasoline on a burning fire.
For us, travel affords growth in understanding. We get to know people and how they differ, but also how they are the same. Other than this lone incident at a restaurant, we loved our time in Croatia. We were able to visit wineries in Istria and met wonderful people. We hope to have an opportunity to return to Croatia in the future to explore its other regions.