1st May street – here it is! I breathed thankfully as I wasn’t sure how many more hills will my knees bear. It felt as if the bones were rubbing each other. And it didn’t feel right. „Number 12 is here which means only few more houses and I will be there” – I lifted up my head and I saw a tall smiling brunet waving to me. „Just on time!” – I hailed back and got off my bike.
The story of Feriz seemed to have no end. Or no beginning. It started for me though when I asked about the origins of his name which seemed neither Croatian nor Italian to me. „I’ve got it after my dad who comes from Kosovo – he explained – and he is muslim. Actually he is a Kurd becasue my grandfather moved from Kurdistan to Kosovo, where he met my granny. It is also where the rest of my dad’s family live – ten brothers and sisters. Mum’s family has some German or Austrian roots, we are not sure about it. It’s an old Jewish family that converted into Catholicims at some point, so my mum is catholic. She was born here, at the territory of contemporary Croatia. I have actually discovered recently that looking three generations back, I have at least seven nations in my blood”.
We walked along mololongo – a Croatian-Italian version of a pier that differs from the one in Sopot mostly that it’s been built along the seaside. It seemed at least some 1,5 kilometers long. The place has charmed me since the very first minute. Water on your right, water on your left and you just walk in the middle listening to the noise of waves hitting mololongo on both sides. Once we’ve got pretty cold (it was „only” five Celcius degrees that is twenty degrees more than when I was leaving Poland a week before), we went to search for Feriz’s friends in one of Rijeka’s pubs. From the hippie times of my youth I have a lot of nice memories and the constant cry for freedom left. Feriz has changed his black punk trousers and army boots into a suit. He still enjoys the punk concerts though. And the company of other punk rockers with endless discussions about the sense of life. A silimar to the one we’ve held sitting at the waterfront the following evening as well.
*Rijeka – a seaport and third-largest city in Croatia (after Zagreb and Split). The most interesting part of its history seems to be the short period when Rijeka (called formely „Fiume”) became an independent city and functioned as the Free City of Fiume for a few years (1920-24) until it’s been taken over by Italian facists. Since the end of WW II it became a part of the new state of Yugoslavia. It’s still quite a unique cultural mix after its reach history though – there are catholic churches, orthodox churches, a mosque and a little synagouge in the city. Yet, as a part of the Croatian coast, it is one of the most liberal cities in the country.
Rijeka, 25 January 2016