Croatians spend a lot of time in parks. Well, at least, Zagrebians do. And mostly I mean Zagrebian teenagers.
Walking home from my (very long, very late) train trip on Saturday night, I walked through several parks in which youths – yes, youths – were sitting on park benches and drinking from 2 litre bottles of beer.
I guess a lot of these young people still live at home and don’t have options for house parties. So when you’re strapped for cash and have no place to go, you hang out with your buddies in the park.
The best part was they were so innocuous. They really were just hanging. They weren’t being loud or obnoxious or intimidating. They were just sitting around drinking beer.
I walked through the Croatian National Theatre as well, a beautiful golden baroque building, surrounded on each side with a small but neat garden. And here again were scores of youths, drinking and chatting on the benches.
You can hear the opera from those benches.
The show has just finished, and well-dressed people were streaming from its doors. And neither the youths nor the theatre-goers looked out of place, mingling in those gardens.
There’s definitely a feeling here of parks belonging to everyone, and everyone using them.