A Funny Thong Happened

POSTED ON 09/08/2010


Anyone who read my blogs on Croatian wine last year will know that Croatia is one of my favourite destinations of the moment. So much so that I returned this year to visit vineyards on the scenic Dalmatian coast. A report will follow, but there’s one aspect of Croatia that I find less than attractive and it’s called Croatia Airlines. Leaving aside for one moment the fact that ticket prices are so much higher than the budget airlines that there seems little point in flying with Croatia Airlines, customer services could do with a makeover.

A nice Croatia Airlines manA nice Croatia Airlines man

On the flight out to Zagreb, the plane was delayed by an hour, so I missed my onward flight to Dubrovnik. I asked the frosty, iron curtain-esque air hostess on the plane if there would be an announcement for passengers with onward flights. I received a curt no. On arrival, I was booked on the last flight leaving that evening for Dubrovnik, so missed my planned visit to this apparently beautiful city. When I went to the Croatia Airlines office and queried this, a helpful stewardess (the only helpful one) not only got me on an earlier flight (not early enough to visit Dubrovnik unfortunately) but into the American Express lounge free to send some emails and get in touch with my Croatian wine contact on the ground in Dubrovnik. I had started to feel I was winning, but...

Having been given a voucher because of the delays, I went to the restaurant to spend a princely 70 kuna (around £8.75). As I left, I asked the waiter if I needed to sign anything. He said not only did I need to sign something but I had to pay a supplement of 15 kuna for the ‘cover charge’, not something that had been mentioned earlier. It wasn’t much admittedly, but I refused on principle and walked off to the Croatia Airlines office with the irate waiter in sweatily hot pursuit, threatening to call the police. I might as well have been speaking to a rhinoceros when I explained the position to the official behind the desk, who did call the police. Meanwhile, I asked him to phone my Croatian contact, which he grudgingly agreed to do.

A nice Croatian policemanA nice Croatian policeman

The airport bobby came over and asked me for my ID. He refused to accept my press card. I gave him my passport and he started scribbling down the details. I felt like a pawn in a surreal triangular game between irate waiter waving his bill, Croatian steward on the phone to my contact, and policeman taking down my details. Instead of thumb-twiddling, I got out my Blackberry and took a picture of the man behind the Croatia Airlines desk. He didn’t look too pleased, slammed down the phone to my contact and asked me why I’d just taken a picture of him. I then took a picture of the policeman, who didn’t too thrilled either. I was about to take a snapshot of the irate waiter, when he walked away, as did the policeman, and the nice man at the desk sat down. Suddenly, from object of unsolicited attention, I became invisible as my tormentors evaporated like vampires at dawn. Surreal or what?


Since my blog on the night of the Semillons at Vinopolis, Sarah’s (our choreographer) company, Walking Forward, has produced a short video of the evening. If you can’t face any more thongs, and I wouldn’t entirely blame you, look away now. If you do want the link, it’s http://www.vimeo.com/13453167 and the password is 'fullmonty'. This is rapidly turning from a night to remember into a night to forget. Seriously though, it was immense fun – and an all-off one-off.


Edy del Popolo, the brilliant young viticulturalist at Santa Rita’s Argentinian estate, Doña Paula, has sent me some pictures he took of the first winter snows in their vineyards in the Andes in Mendoza’s Uco Valley. He also seems to have an eye for s good image, so I thought I’d share them with you. But don't give up the day job, Edy.

The snow must go onThe snow must go on
and onand on
Alluvia Vineyard, Gualtallary, UcoAlluvia Vineyard, Gualtallary, Uco

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