Marenda! Authentic Croatia Culture Comes to Paris Louvre

Total Croatia News

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 November 12, 2018 – You can take the boy out of The Beautiful Croatia, but you can’t take The Beautiful Croatia out of the boy. 

 It is an excellent idea to give Croatia a lot more visibility to the French market, which grew 8% last year, and various official heavyweights, including Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Tourism Minister Gari Capelli, were on hand at the opening of the photo exhibition “Croatia, Full of Colours” in the Carrousel de Louvre shopping centre next to the famous glass pyramid of the Louvre Museum in Paris. A month-long exhibition of 26 large-format photos from photographer Davor Rostuhar, whose wider project, Croatia from Above, was published by National Geographic as its first photo monograph from Croatia. You can read more about it here.

So far, so good.

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A TCN reader was in Paris last week and was rather surprised (and impressed) to find such a prominent display of Croatian tourism promotion in such a prominent spot.

And then she started to get a little confused, as each picture was branded with the logo of the Croatian National Tourist Board and the Zagreb Tourist Board. Nothing wrong with that if the photo exhibition was promoting Zagreb, but a little curious to have misty castles such as Trakoscan with the Zagreb logo. For busy shoppers seeing these incredible pictures associated with Zagreb was perhaps a little confusing.  

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Unless the idea was to show Parisians just how spectacular the capital of Croatia was – a wonderful city with monasteries on small islands. Idyllic.

But of course, there is no point doing such an expensive or prominent promotion without giving curious Zagreb tourists of the future the chance to learn more about this incredible city.  My reader was much cheered to see an information booth for people to visit. And very nicely branded too, with Luka Modric in THAT famous shirt, helping along with the branding of Croatia. 

There was just one problem…

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There was nobody there.

Nobody at all. 

For two hours. 

My reader said that at first she was angry that somebody who should have been doing their job was clearly not, but probably enjoying the delights of Paris at the taxpayer’s expense, but then she smiled and realised that, in fact, this tourism promotion was presenting an important aspect of Croatian culture. 

The marenda. 

Marenda traditionally is a hearty snack taken by workers mid-morning after a hard day’s toil in the field. Something akin to a late breakfast. It has taken on a life of its own in The Beautiful Croatia, and official bodies now have official ‘marenda’ times, usually 15-30 minutes, where departments in places such as the tax office will shut to the public while its officials take a well-earned coffee break after toiling away at their desks for more than two hours in the morning. 

It is a curious tradition for a foreigner who comes from a culture of official institutions being open from 9 to 5, but one that I have got used to over the years in Croatia. But the maddening part in Croatia is that the advertised marenda time of 11:00 to 11:30 at the tax office can quite easily extend to 11:45 or longer, for those public officials really do have to relax after such a stressful start to the day. 

And, it seems, that marenda time can stretch out to two hours on international business in places such as Paris, which must have some great cafes to choose from. 

One shouldn’t complain, however. The modern tourism gurus say that ‘authentic experiences’ are what tourist are seeking these days. 

And you don’t get more authentic in The Beautiful Croatia than an extended marenda. Dobar tek!

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The branding of Zagreb is just one curious example in recent months where the branding is causing confusion, rather than focus, at least in my opinion. Here is another. Around 6,000 tourist industry professionals are expected to descend on Zagreb in May, 2019, for the Central European Tourism Summit. I just hope those of them looking to enjoy a little ice skating and Chrismas lights will not be too disappointed at the May sunshine, having seen the homepage of the conference website. 



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