Author Archives: jlinketraveller

About jlinketraveller

Traveller and Writer - none of 'em uber successful!

Croatian Coffee – A love story

Bok! Daj me jedna bijela kava, molim.

That is how it all began. The wish for a normal coffee with milk. What I got was the invite to stay several hours, sip your coffee every now and then and just see “being”.
Drinking coffee in Zagreb has become a wonderful tradition of an almost daily routine, involving working on my thesis (wi-fi is widely spread), reading a book and continuously improving my language skills. But all this I could do back home in Germany too. Here, it is a different feeling….coffee. It means so much more.

My day starts with making a strong coffee in one of the Balkans (some might claim Turkish) cezve. Boiling water, adding some sugar, adding the coffee, letting it boil just another second. Taking it off the stove, letting it rest for a moment – truly the most authentic coffee I have every tasted. And yet I am far from mastering this technique.
Hence my frequent visits to decent cafés like Funk Club or Melin.

Some of the “best” poems I wrote in the past few weeks were created under the influence of strong coffee and comfy chairs, mixed with an unstoppable amount of inspirations walking the streets and, of course, cigarettes.


Addicted to a certain kind of kindness

Now, there is a different connotation to living in a Slavic country, I really have to admit. I only been here for, what, 2 weeks and I already feel another wave of honesty that I am exploring. Of course, I have been familiar with the kind of kindness, openness and ease of living for many years, but I somehow could never fully accept and/or appreciate it. To little congruence with my own culture, my way of being and my style of communicating was visible and so I did what I was best at – I stuck to what I knew and what I felt at ease with.
After those 2 weeks in Zagreb, I can say I found 1 real friend yet. 2 weeks! Real friendship does not come easy to me and it normally takes quite a while before people make the transition from being a “close acquaintance” to becoming a friend. Not here. I felt accepted and liked by the people I met so far and despite my different upbringing and history, I am welcomed immediately, That 1 guy I consider a friend, he has a girlfriend. We talked twice, I told her about my study and what I have to work on while in Croatia and she, in an instant, told me, she would help me! I was perplex! I told her, I was. She stared at me with surprise and simply replied, “that’s what friends do”. 🙂 Wow!

I came here for a reason. I start to understand a culture that really should have been familiar to me by now. I will try to incorporate every inch of this culture. It means the world to me.

Zagreb 50h

So far, I spent a bit over 50 hours in Zagreb, Croatia and thought, it definitely is time for a first statement:

I am so overly positively overwhelmed!!

To be honest, I haven’t really done anything here so far. I took 2 cabs to find my final destination (I get to that later) and did a bit of grocery shopping here and there, but for the most part of my 2 days, I spent them at my new, overly dusty, attic room a good 5km outside the city center. The room is…something else. Roughly 30qm I reckon, it is packed with dust and old broken furniture. Since I won’t be needed much, I simply dragged all those boxes in the one corner of the room I most likely never again will pass by, and set up my bed and desk close by the window. Now I use the bed, the desk and something that looks remotely like a cupboard to store my clothes. My 4 house mates seem to be pleasant companions, but I only met 2 so far. However, I explained my reasons for being here and instructed them (nicely) that within short time, I shall practice my Croatian language skills on them!

Back to my being overwhelmed. I have spent two weeks in Ljubljana, Slovenia over the past 4 1/2 years and the mentality I got to understand their seems to be much applicable to what I saw from Zagreb and its people so far. Every single person I talked to so far is so friendly. And it is an honest kind of friendly, the one that makes you want to just smile at strangers and talk about everything. My first cab driver asked me whether I am married and what brought me to Zagreb. He liked the reasons… 🙂 He continued telling me that Zagreb is a safe city with no harm for strangers. Just imagine a somewhat similar conversation with any (!) German cap driver, I dare you.

Okay, since I don’t want to reveal too many emotions at this first of many posts, here are two more things that I find worth mentioning:

a) The weather. I was told that the Balkan are in the middle of a severe snowstorm. I write these words on my shiny, -3°C cold balcony! It hit +7°C yesterday, so much of the snow has turned into brownish mud, but that is okay. It is very very slippery here, guess that compensates for missing out on the white beauty.

b) The burek. I tried 2 different places already. They were good, the one I had in Ljubljana in ’07 was better! Guess the first one is always the best and the most memorable.

Oh yeah, pictures. Next time… 🙂

I won’t take the high road, but I’ll take the low – and I’ll be in Zagreb on Wednesday

For me and my true love, shall one day meet again!
I am off to Zagreb, Croatia in a few days. Purpose of this adventure, again, is my Uni, who kindly asks me to write a Bachelor-Thesis. Me, for I really really want to learn Croatian and explore the country and culture to its fullest found a superb placement, called “Expat Adria”, for whom I will conduct a communication needs assessment. I shall be looking forward to it. And, of course, I am very much looking forward to exploring a culture that means the world to me. I have this decent camera of mine that takes pictures (you don’t say!) and thus I expect the most of you here again, for images and stories! Stay tuned!

zbogom! 🙂

Introducing: 1 child, 1 present

Today, I want to present a very social topic to you.

Two good friends of mine have recently started a new blog, called A couple of the green hearts. In that blog, Maria and Sander want to explore one green trend each week, seeing whether it is possible (both financially and organizationally) to shift your life to a more greener solution. Besides these truly fascinating ideas, the two have of them have come up with an even better idea of how to spend a life meaningfully:

Each year, too many children in the world cannot celebrate a Christmas as we can. They face troubles in life beyond their own capabilities and maturity level. Their parents do their utmost to support them through their life, but too often, finding the money and energy to provide a meaningful Christmas is out of the question.
Maria, as a native Russian, saw this being a major problem. She contacted a well-trusted NGO in Russia and received a list of 80 children. 40 live in an orphanage just outside of Moscow, the other 40 are spread all across the country with their parents whose incomes are barely enough to survive. This is where you and I can come in. Maria and Sander have opened a section in their green blog on this wonderful Christmas fundraiser:

1 present for 1 child

What they ask from you is simply: Give money. You don’t even have to think much about what sort of gifts you could buy, because Maria and Sander have taken care of this already. All they want is a relatively small donation from you (10€ per child) for a child in Russia, so that this year’s Christmas might be a little less sad and a lot more happy! Please, be so kind and explore this unique idea from two people, who couldn’t be more altruistic and caring!

Don’t think about the money, think about all that money can do for a soul, who just want to spend Christmas like you, like me, like every child.

China: the Bund, the Scam, the Wall, the Ricewine

I was in China! It was an incredible experience! It was unique, shocking, inspiring, educating, frustrating, it was pretty much everything you would and wouldn’t expect when being here.

True story: This is considered "empty"

For the first 4 days I decided to spend in Shanghai, thinking that it might be giving me a first plain insight into China’s culture, lifestyle and patterns of being. I couldn’t have been more disappointed…

Shanghai may also be called the “European Capital of China” for that matter. I had to look really hard to find spots and people I believed would still count for a more traditional country. But finding those between monstrous Apple stores, 85-store high shiny buildings and the ever-present Starbucks/McDonald’s/KFC wasn’t a simple task. I tried, honestly. Some spots were very interesting to explore, such as the Bund at night, overlooking the financial district or small streets where I saw the most amazing and the most disgusting dishes in my life and I cannot even start thinking about certain smells. Truly incredible! I had tofu one day (and normally I adore tofu) that had the smell of a train station’s toilet in Berlin at 2am. You’ll learn from it. Oh, one more thing that hit me while being in China (and especially Shanghai): My skin kept burning like stupid and regardless pf how often I’d wash and moisturize it, I’d always feel a thick layer of dust and dirt on it.

The scenery of my scam (should the location above a shopping mall made me think?)

I believed to be lucky when I found a group of 3 Chinese, very enthusiastic in inviting me to a “traditional tea festival” experience. I was like “score, finally!”. It turned out to be a well-known (for everyone else) scam in a small room on top of a rotten-looking shopping mall, that involved tasting tea (which was amazingly tasty to be fair) and paying a buy-out of a little over 90€… well, it was an experience!

Maybe it was due to the omnipresent jet-lag I couldn’t have fought until the arrival in Beijing, but I need to stress the fact that Shanghai disappointed me more that I gained from it. When you see a huge “Calvin Klein” commercial right next to a let’s say 1000-year-old Temple, you’ll understand what I am referring to. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it for the world, but I am convinced that the next time I’ll make my way to China, Shanghai may not have top priority.

Standing at "the Bund", overlooking the river to the Financial District

Nonetheless, I saw a lot, ate a bit, spent “accordingly” (metro ride: 50cent; fried noodles from the street: 60cent, Tea scam: 90€), slept during the day and walked the streets at night.

Who came first? Buddhism or the model?

This was my first encounter with the traditional storage of meat in China. I should have been prepared for Beijing, but nah...

I’d much rather be a smoker in the Netherlands than a non-smoker in Beijing

The best thing about Shanghai was the High-Speed train to Beijing! Going on roughly 320km/h, we easily made the 1,300 km in less than 5 hours time. And from the moment I disembarked at the train station until the moment I entered the plane back home to Europe, Beijing was one heck of an experience! Frankly, I did not see anything from the city or its sights during the first three days due to study obligations which would tie me to the 4* hotel conference room and the CUC and its canteen. Hold on, canteen? Oh yeah! I finally felt like a proper student, eating food in a uni’s canteen. And it was among the most amazing food I ever had. Steamed, boiled, fried vegetables, tofu and rice, hauntingly beautiful 🙂 These dishes cost me about 1,60€ per meal, including the cozy loud Chinese student atmosphere.

Choose your weapon

A bowl full of novelties

After some days of so-called working on our home projects with our Chinese buddies (who couldn’t be more helpful!) we finally found some time to explore the city. First during the night, when we ended up being in the shiny nightclub “Latte”, where male dancers dress up like women, where women walk around having over-sized teddy bears tied to their bodies, where men wash your hands in the bathroom for 2€ and where the prices exceed those of Europe. Unfortunately, cameras were forbidden. However, the weren’t forbidden in the Forbidden City, so I made it there the other day and took countless pictures. I won’t give you the history of the Forbidden City, but I myself had no idea what to expect after all. Yet, I was amazed by the buildings, but again, the heavy smog that caused some troubles breathing made things seem a bit less enjoyable. Continue reading

“Soldier Side” 2011

Dead man walking to the bottom of his heart
Wondering when you come home, am I gonna be saved
Maybe I’m a sinner for your inner unique peace
Maybe I’m a downer, maybe I deserve to die

I am crying as my love left
My soul is wearing black
You’ll go so far to find yourself
I hope you’re coming back

We were crying when our ways split
All good things must go
You’ll go so far to find your truth
I know you’re coming home

Young man standing on the bottom of his life
Wondering when you come back, am I gonna be saved
Praying to your feelings, I’m so crushed I only cry
Maybe you’re a savior, maybe I don’t have to die

I am crying as my heart breaks
Life is turning black
You’ll go so far to find yourself
I hope you’re coming back

We were crying when our ways split
All good things must go
You’ll go so far to find your truth
I know you’re coming home

Welcome to the soldier side
Where there is no one here but me
My heart grows up to die
There is no one here but me

Welcome to my lonely side
There is no one here but me
No-one on my lonely side
There is no one here but me