I can’t speak the language, I have a love-hate relationship with the cuisine, and the stiff, rule-abiding mentality is 100 percent opposite of how I grew up, but somehow, unarguably, Austria is HOME as much as any home I’ve known. The German word, Gemütlichkeit, describes it best - the state of mind of being cozy, comfortable, relaxed and content with a sense of belonging and community.
The salmon sizzled, spitting hot olive oil from the striations in its flesh. The fish was so fresh, you could not smell that it was fish, rather it smelled of salt water and cold—the way a deep breathe on a frosty morning smells. The small restaurant in Split, Croatia was abuzz with activity, plates were being passed around, beers imbibed. The heavy wooden front door locked out the chilly November air and the breathe of well-fed patrons fogged the small windows, blocking the view to the street.
The jolly barman with large breasts sporting a red bikini merrily waved us in with a spatula as we nudged open the heavy wooden door to the bar. Laughter steamed the windows from the inside out on this chilly, early winter evening in Bled, Slovenia. The tiny bar was teeming with grimy, work-boot wearing men with missing teeth and large-bosomed, frolicsome women.