May 3, 2006

ZAGREB, Croatia – Edward and I decide to end the Balkan trip in style. No more zimmers, those casual rented rooms with musty blankets or 3am polka hit-parades. No more colorful interactions with locals in mutant Italian-Germanglish; interactions that invariably end with a grandmother patting my long hair.

I know that gesture. "There, there," it telegraphs. "Your eyes are very blue, even if you babble like a trilingual idiot. Maybe, despite your advanced age, you could marry my nephew. Make nice babies and get EU passport!"


The best insult of my life occurred at the Oxford Mail around the millennium. A lowly features writer and sub-editor, I approached the Opinion-Page Poobah one day.

"Peter," I told this man, famed for bluntness, even among Yorkshiremen. "I've been thinking about this article..."

"Come on now, love," he interjected. "You're too pretty to think."


For a long time, this phrase formed the working title of the autobiography-I'll-hopefully-never-write.

Lately I'm leaning towards the more mature I'll Sleep on the Plane, however.


Anyway. Posh: that's what we want.

In fact, our ambitions soar so high that we have to "dress" for dinner.

Mud from Trogir's construction site – the bridge that will completely pedestrianize the mile-square-island – cakes my high heels.

Why does this make me so happy? Aside from the immediate "feet of clay" jokes, that is?

We dust off, doll up and dine at the Regent Esplanade, the nation's grande dame that had hosted all the adventurers and war correspondents and travelers of more exotic eras before drip-n-dry polyester. Then we crash at Croatia's first minimalist-design mecca, the Arcotel Allegra.

Virginia Wolf glared from the duvet and curtains, both silk-screened with a random grab-bag of geniuses.

Poor Ginnie: see where thinking gets you?

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