On our last full day in Croatia, we had the opportunity to visit an elementary school (or “primary” school as they call them in Europe) that serves students in first through eighth grade. The wonderful school we visited is called the Lapad Primary School. The Director (Principal) Ms. Nikolina Soko was kind enough to give us a tour of the school.
At this point in time, there are so many students, they have a morning shift and an afternoon shift, with 1st and 2nd going to school from 7:30-4:15pm. Eventually some of the students will attend another school and they will go back to one shift. Only first and second grade students eat lunch in the school cafeteria, and it was interesting to see each chair had the name of a student on it. There is an olive grove on school grounds and the students were very excited to show us the olives they had just picked which were going to be pressed into olive oil. The temperate climate allows so many outdoor activities, including an outdoor amphitheater, garden, and a large court where we saw students playing basketball, soccer and dodge ball. We gave the students wristbands, stickers and bookmarks made be Genesee students. Do you have any questions about school in Croatia? We know many teachers there who we can ask!
One of the things we love to do when we travel is to try new food. Bordering the sea, Croatia is most known for its seafood - fish, mussels,oysters and shrimp. When we visited the Old City of Dubrovnik, we ate in a restaurant known for having the best “Black Cuttlefish Risotto” in Dubrovnik. Risotto is a type of rice cooked very slowly. Cuttlefish is a tender fish that shoots a black ink-like substance when threatened. The this inky black liquid is added to the risotto, it gives it a delicious salty flavor, but also a black color (and it makes your teeth turn black - but it’s only temporary!) We all tried it and loved it!
Have you ever heard of carpaccio? We tried two different kinds at a restaurant on the sea. These photos show a beef carpaccio and a swordfish carpaccio. A carpaccio is a meat and fish preparation style, where it is sliced very thin and served raw. Would you try it? At this same restaurant Mrs. Mlod ordered a giant pot of mussels and prawns, she was surprised when the prawn was looking back at her!
We are lucky to have a large breakfast at our hotel every morning, with lots of bread, croissants, pastries and more bread! They also serve various sausages, eggs, porridge, yogurt, fruit, cheeses, cold cut meats, and anchovies. All of this food is not a traditional Croatian breakfast though. Traditionally in Croatia, a family might just have a pastry, some fruit and definitely coffee!
One of our favorite treats after exploring and learning is ice cream. The ice cream in Croatia is not like the ice cream we get out of a soft serve machine or out of a freezer. It is extra creamy but light at the same time. There are always several flavors to choose from including fruit flavors, chocolate flavors, and vanillas.
On our visit to the country of Bosnia we ate at a wonderful restaurant near a famous bridge. The bridge is 20 meters high and people jump from it into shallow water for money! Post below if you know how high 20 meters is in standard measurement. Bosnia is known for their famous meat dishes. If you are a vegetarian you will have a hard time finding something that you would be able to eat. We ordered a platter of meat to share. It had beef, pork, and chicken with a few different kinds of sausages. One sausage was called a meat finger. As we ate we were greeted by several street cats that meowed and begged until they received a piece for themselves.
Pomegranates, bitter oranges and prickly pears are also fruits that grow in Croatia. Here we are picking some fresh fruit from the trees (and yes, the bitter orange is REALLY bitter and the prickly pears are prickly!)
Dubrovnik is known as “The Pearl of the Adriatic” because it is believed to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. The city of Dubrovnik was founded a long time ago, way back in 614. Can anyone figure out how long ago it was first inhabited? Dubrovnik as we know it, the beautiful walled city, was constructed in the 14th century.
Dubrovnik has an interesting history because it was not always part of a country. They were a “free city” meaning they never were part of any of the major empires throughout history. To keep their independence they used diplomacy and the massive walls helped to protect them. Can you imagine how many stones it took to build those walls? Eventually the city ran out of stones but the people were clever problem solvers. Many people at the time wanted to visit Dubrovnik so the city planners decided that every individual who wanted to enter Dubrovnik had to bring a stone to be allowed in!
This fountain can be found at the entrance to the Old City and even though it was built so long ago we can still fill our water bottles and drink from it.
The Old City also borders a port which has many boats. We took a book ride to the island of Lokrum, which is a nature reserve and special forest reservation. Even though it is a small island, it has over 400 types of plants and 21 different types of habitats. When we got off the boat, the first animal we saw was a bunny - followed by many bunnies. We also saw peacocks, a bat and a limpet (a type of mollusk). Other animals that live on the island that we didn’t see are geckos, lizards, snacks, tortoise, and butterflies.
We’ve been asked if we’ve been swimming, and we have! Here we are taking a swim in the clear beautiful Adriatic Sea!
Hello everyone. Let me introduce myself, I am the “other” Ms. Calarco, the “real” Miss Calarco’s sister. I decided to join my sister and Mrs. Mlod’s trip to Croatia, since they have been travelling the world without me! I am a science teacher at Auburn High School and I hope to see you all as students one day.
I would like to share with everyone what the “real” Miss Calarco and I did on Sunday. We arrived at the conference a day early and decided to take a day trip to the country of Montenegro. I wonder if any of you can figure out what that name means?
Montenegro is a very small country with less than one million people. New York City has 8.5 million people. It took us a little under an hour to arrive and we had to go through the Croatian border first where they checked all of our passports then we crossed into Montenegro where they just took a list of the people on the bus.
We visited two old cities; first the city of Kotor where we saw many cats. They told us the cats were brought in during the plague. Leave a comment if you think you know why.
Next we went to the city of Budva, where we broke off from the group for a bit and took a beautiful boat ride around the fortress walls, grottos (caves) and beautiful islands.
This is how we met our new friend, Milan the Water Taxi Driver. He was a very nice man and gave us a great tour.
After a long day we headed back to Dubrovnik, and on the way home the whole bus loaded onto a ferry to help shorten up the ride home. It was a beautiful day and I was so lucky to have spent it with my favorite sister!
Congratulations to Jaden J. and Gabby C. - the first two people to answer our question regarding how much 100 Kuna is equivalent to in dollars - they are both correct: $15 (we’ll bring you each back something from our trip!)
Here are some answers to questions posted on our blog (for the students who asked questions about the food, we will be doing an entire post dedicated to food!):
Avalina and Jovonnie both asked what the weather is like. This week it is in the mid-70’s, but just like the United States, difference parts of Croatia have different weather. In the northern part it is cooler and they will get snow in the winter.
Emma B. & Adrianna asked if there were fish in the ocean. Croatia actually borders a sea, not an ocean - the Adriatic Sea, and all kinds of fish inhabit this sea. Does anyone know the difference between a sea and an ocean?
Kenyan & Selena & Trenayja want to know if we are having fun - yes! And we are learning a lot and meeting librarians from all around the world. There are librarians from forty-eight countries at this conference. Here is a photo of me and Miss Calarco with librarians from the Philippines, Croatia, and Sweden in the photo on the left, and Margaret, a Librarian in Kenya, with me, Miss Calarco and Ms. Calarco in the photo on the right.
Mario was wondering if there is a Wal-Mart. There is not a Wal-Mart in Croatia or any other American grocery store but Croatia does have a store called Pepco which is very similar. Mr. F’s class has asked what we are presenting. We are presenting on all of the projects we do together that connect to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. What goal do you think is the most important? Mr. F’s class also wanted to know if the cars are the same as in the US. The cars are a little different here; you will not see many Ford’s or other American cars. Typically, people drive European cars and Asian cars, like this Citroen.
Mrs. Dietsche’s class is wondering about language. The people of Croatia speak Croatian. People in neighboring countries speak different languages but people who speak Croatian can easily understand their neighbor countries because the languages are so similar. Mr. Musso’s class wondered how long it took us to get from Auburn to Croatia; it was a total of ten hours, flying in three different airplanes, because no airline flies there directly from New York.
We asked a Croatian librarian his favorite Croatian animal and he said squirrel! They have some animals very similar to us like deer for example. But one animal that is unique to this area is a hedgehog. In the spring when they come out of hibernation they can be heard burrowing around near the houses. To answer the question from Mr. A’s class: yes, we have been swimming, but not in the sea yet; in the hotel pool! We plan to swim in the beautiful, clear water of the Adriatic Sea and will post a photo when we do. We are NOT going to jump off a bridge or cliff like some of the people do in Croatia!
Mrs. Mlod and Miss Calarco are both members of an organization called the International Association of School Librarianship. Each year, this group holds a conference in a different country. This year’s conference is in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and Mrs. Mlod, Miss Calarco and Ms. Calarco are presenting at this conference.
When you look at this map of Croatia, you’ll notice a long coastline with many islands. Can you find where Dubrovnik is on the map? Describe where it is located geographically in a comment.
We arrived in Croatia late on Saturday. There is a six hour time difference between Auburn, NY and Dubrovnik, Croatia, so even though the clock said 10pm, to our bodies it felt like 4pm. Miss Calarco and Ms. Calarco flew from Buffalo, NY to Washington, DC to Munich, Germany and then to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Mrs. Mlod started her journey in New York City, flying to Oslo, Norway and then on to Dubrovnik. The flight from Munich, Germany to Dubrovnik, Croatia included a cheese sandwich!
Mrs. Mlod had an interesting snack in Oslo, Norway called “Salt Skum” - it was delicious licorice! (Does the logo remind you of anything? If so, please comment below!)
In Croatia, the unit of money is called a Kuna. Each Kuna is worth about 15 cents. Our dinner cost 100 kuna, which sounds like a lot of money; if you can figure out how much it cost in dollars, please post below.
Here is a photo of the sunset that greeted us when we arrived at the hotel and another photo of the sunrise in the early morning:
Read some information about Croatia from Britannica Online or the Cia Factbook. Post an interesting fact and/or question in the comments below!
The most recent blog posts are at the top; if you want to read our blog from the beginning, go to the bottom of the page.
We are three educators in the Auburn School District who have a passion for giving our students global perspectives and opportunities to make a difference in the world. Anne Mlod is Librarian and Innovation Lab Coordinator at Genesee Elementary School; Victoria Calarco is the Library Media Specialist at Auburn High School; and Christina Calarco teaches Biology, Anatomy and Ethics at Auburn High School.