Croatian Night Life!
I thought I’d talk a little bit about our nights out during my two weeks in Croatia at the end of January.
As I’ve mentioned before (last year’s blogs, and in my Maškare post), going out in Europe is different than in the States. The two big differences are: just how LATE you stay out when you go out, AND that there’s a broader age range of people hitting the town late at night.
For many of our nights out, we went into Rijeka, which is the city about a half hour north of Miloš’ town. On our first weekend, we went out just the two of us on Thursday night. Miloš took me to some of his regular spots. Unfortunately, one of his favorite clubs had just closed down the weekend before, or else we would’ve visited that one as well.
When it was just us going out, we took the last bus from Crikvenica to Rijeka (left a little after 10:15pm), and then took the 6:00am bus back to Crikvenica the next morning.
That first Thursday, we started out at a bar that closed quite early – midnight. It was the Celtic Cafe Bard. The bar was small but had a great atmosphere and was decorated in a whimsical way, with the wood trimming giving an effect of dark branches growing up along some of the walls. There were several levels of cozy seating areas and a curved bar along the wall of the front entrance. It sort of felt like a cottage in the forest.
After leaving that bar, we headed to Tunel, which as you can tell by it’s name, is actually an old tunnel – under the train tracks – that was closed in and turned into a bar. The roof is a curved stone wall from end to end. The arching stones give the place a rugged cloister kind of feel, or that of an old wine cellar. We stayed here for quite awhile before heading to Palach. Palach can best be described as a welcoming, friendly dive bar. The front two rooms are bars (I only ever saw the front one open though), and the back rooms are big for dancing.
Once Palach closed for the night, we headed to Nina 2. This club is actually a docked ship along the water’s edge. Up to this point, the bars were playing music from everywhere, but lots of American music – some mainstream, some off the beaten path. But it was almost all in English. Until we got to Nina 2. It was all Croatian (and apparently some Bulgarian?) It was all new to me! But this was the bar that was open Thursday night until after 5am, so we were there until it was time to head to the bus station. I didn’t know a single song played there, but we had already had a good amount to drink, and had a super fun time dancing around anyway!
Before leaving, we got pizza and panini sandwiches at the little indoor stand at the bus station (yummy!), then we caught our bus and went home to crash.
The next night (Friday), we also went in to Rijeka, but this time with two of Miloš’ friends, Vladek and Dinka. Dinka had a car and drove us all in. This particular Friday was the “Night of Museums” all over Croatia, so the museums everywhere were open super late. In Crikvenica, there was a band playing outside the museum in the middle of town, and we hung out there briefly before heading to Rijeka. Our first stop was actually to an observatory, where they were giving tours and letting people look through the big telescope. But as soon as we got there, they stopped letting people have access to the telescope because of the winds. Bummer. I LOVE anything having to do with space, so that would’ve been super cool. We went to another museum and looked around a bit, but I just wasn’t in the mood for it, and since I can’t read Croatian, I didn’t know what anything was. And again, I’m a super nerd girl who loves learning and truly loves interesting museums, but I was all decked out and in the mindset to dance. My mind was just elsewhere. Miloš and I headed out and met up with the others later.
We hit mostly the same bars as the night before, and there were lots more people out. The dance room in Palach was playing a lot of 80’s music, which was fantastic! We ended up at a different bar at the end of the night – another one inside a ship on the water, but at that point in the night, I can’t remember what it was called. (I’ll check with Miloš and then update this part later. Okay, he said the name of the place is Arka.) Although I do remember them playing good music. Some of it was a little too hard/heavy for my tastes, but most was great, including some retro old school awesomeness.
It was my first night trying out my fabulous new thigh high boots. (On sale at Kohl’s before I left – $38!!!) But unlike the song, those boots were NOT made for walkin’. And we did a lot of walking that night. As a result, by the early morning hours, it felt like there were nails in the bottoms of my feet with every step I took. (The things we women do for the sake of beauty! Seriously though, the boots are smokin’ hot.) Miloš carried me for a little, but even though I’m tiny, one can only do that for so long. Again, we ended the night getting pizza and paninis at the bus station, and then walked to the car to head back to Crikvenica.
Both Saturday nights were Maškare, which I already told you all about in a previous post. 🙂
On the second Thursday, Miloš and I did a repeat of the previous Thursday, hitting all the same bars and clubs, taking the bus to and from Rijeka again. Friday night, we hung out in Crikvenica for awhile at the bar that his friend Toni runs. It was not busy – just the three of us hanging out for a couple hours until we went out with the same friends from the last Friday to a party in Selce. It was held at an old theatre, with a DJ and a drummer on stage spinning lots and lots of electronica. But the kind without singing. (I’m a singer, so I like singing! Haha!) And I like electronica, but this was on the border between dance and trance music. We hung out there drinking and dancing for awhile, but I didn’t want another 7am night, as I had to leave in two days and I wanted to actually enjoy just our time, Miloš and I together, without everyone else. Selce is about a half hour walk south of Crikvenica, so we walked the way home – it wasn’t too cold, and the sea was alive with waves to keep us entertained.
It was a fun night!
Now… a little heads up for any of my female friends who head overseas and want to go out on the town. Be prepared for how aggressive the men are – in a very different way from back home in the States. I mean, I had experienced it a bit last year in Vienna, but it’s nothing like Croatia. Anytime Miloš went to the bathroom, I got hit on. If he went to the bar to get us more drinks, I got hit on. (I think you catch my drift.) Each time, I just nodded my head ‘no’ while looking down and away. It worked.
A perfect example is the bartender from Celtic Cafe Bard. We were only there a few minutes that first night, but as soon as Miloš got up to go to the restroom, the bartender was hitting on me. And he knew very well that Miloš was my boyfriend – I told him that when he asked me what brought me to Croatia. (And he followed us from bar to bar for the rest of the night even.) When we were leaving Nina 2, he yelled out to ask us if we’d be back the next day. (And he subsequently found us at Palach that next night and approached us there. Yes, the dude came up to us while Miloš and I were standing there together. He said something in Croatian, so I have not clue what it was.)
Another example was the last Saturday at the bar before going to the tent for Maškare. I went to the restroom, which was unisex. (The stall was a separate room that locked though.) Some guy followed me to the bathroom and when I didn’t respond to whatever he was saying in Croatian, he actually knocked on my bathroom door. I said I didn’t speak Croatian (for all I knew, he was having an intestinal crisis or something.) We had a little conversation that went something like this:
Guy: “Is that your boyfriend you are with out there, or just a guy that you met?”
Me: “He’s very much my boyfriend.”
Guy: “Oh. Well, I just wanted to tell you that you are very beautiful, one of the most gorgeous women I’ve seen…” (etc, etc….he was saying all kinds of stuff, but I can’t remember it all – I was feeling quite uncomfortable.) “I just wanted to tell you that. Thank you, have a nice night.”
Then he walked out of the restroom.
To that guy’s credit, at least he said what he wanted to say and moved along – and didn’t push.
I really don’t want to seem rude by dismissing someone’s compliments, but that honestly crossed the line into total creepiness. Had I been out alone, I would have been extremely uncomfortable and would have left. Fortunately, I was able to walk right out and back to Miloš at the bar so I could tell him what happened.
And when we were out in Rijeka by ourselves at the end of the night on Thursday, Miloš told me to be careful of how loud I was talking outside with my American accent (I DO have a loud voice, I’m a singer after all), as it would have the same effect as throwing bait into shark infested waters. He said he would not be able to fight off any groups of guys by himself if they decided to get physically aggressive.
Please don’t let me scare you – I really love Croatia. But as a woman, I would NOT go out alone here to the bars and clubs. I would always make sure to be out with at least one other person, whereas in Vienna, I felt okay going out by myself alone. But if you play it safe and go out with others, you’ll be a-okay and have a fabulous time.
Overall, going out in Croatia at night is lots of fun. I got to experience all kinds of music in unique places. I’ll be back again in less than two weeks, so perhaps I’ll have some more fun out on the town to tell you about!