Moving abroad with cats

In 2008 I moved out of my parents' house first time and since I was a child I had told everyone I will get a cat. I had a little trauma asking for a kitten ever since I was a little girl, but never got one because my younger sister was allergic. Years later, it turned out that her allergy basically disappeared and when my brother turned 13, my parents decided to get him a cat for birthday present?! I remember how devastated I was even though, the kittens we took was obviously for the whole family. I guess at that moment my parents did quite stupid move, but then again I was still happiest ever because we got two kittens, who we named two musketeers Athos and Aramis. Later on we also got Porthos, who is still cheering up my parents after all the kids flew from the nest. With one annoying (and cute) Chihuahua, Rudolf.

Anyway, as soon as I moved out I started to look for a cat, more specifically Ragdoll since it has always been my favorite. Later on, I could have thought it through better, since amount of hair they lose daily is enormous. You have to decorate your home based on your cats and anything dark colored is a big nope, the same applies to fluffy carpets. Nevertheless, I would never give up on my cats and because of that they have been traveling with me was a chance to take them. After I got my first cat, Kiki, I of course had to look for a friend for her. Less than a year later, I had Siro (both ladies, as this might not be obvious for readers from outside of Finland :)).

I am lucky to have two little sisters and a little brother, because I have always had someone to take care of Siro and Kiki when traveling. Longest time one of my sisters took care of my furballs was a half a year and my cats had always "two homes". For me it was easy to leave them in a place I know they also considered a home and they were surrounded with familiar people. Even though my sister always kept complaining about amount of hair they leave, she still missed them every time I took them back.

When we decided to move abroad new problems emerged because we don't know how long we stay and where. It was then obvious that cats have to move with us. First, with me to Poland and later on they came with us to Croatia. Since we were moving within EU, it was quite easy. They only needed rabies vaccination, pet passport, and microchip. And reality is, that none of them were checked, not in airport nor on a border when crossing it by car. I was really nervous how the cats will take the trip but everything went better than expected. During car journey only problem was Siro’s ability to meow hours and our sanity when listening it. She has always been very verbal and new environment turns it to new levels.

What to take care of during long car journeys with cats? Longest one we have had, was 11 hours. We made sure there is enough space for them to use a toilet if they had to (unfortunately they did) and to offer water from time to time. Most of the time they really didn't give a crap about food or beverages, only thing they actually enjoyed was the possibility of free movement in a car. Then they were able to find the most comfortable spot. After first few hours both of them got used to the driving and went to sleep. Many of my friends asked if we gave some sedatives to the cats, but we didn't and it was not needed. Actually, vets do not recommend sedatives, especially for flying, because airplane temperature is lower and also with sedatives body temperature of animals decreases.


Eating: Kava Tava

We love eating so it was easy to find something new to write about, namely restaurants. We would like to share some of our good experiences and eventually create a "food map". In the beginning when I moved here in Zagreb, I asked my colleague K to give me some restaurant suggestions. She ended up preparing me a one page long list of her and her friends favorite dining places. During last three months, we have tried some of them already, as well as taken our chance to try something not included in the list. Instead of listing restaurants with bad experiences, I rather tell about those we could definitely recommend to others.

Yesterday Croats celebrated the Assumption of Mary, which is a public holiday in Croatia. That means we had a day off from work and some time to kill. Therefore, we decided to look for some restaurants that were open that day. After intensive net search we picked a restaurant (actually, M picked it and I didn't like it. It turned out to be great though). I have to admit, that restaurant selection is a tricky situation for M and it often ends up with a little fight as I tend to be difficult with my food. Even if I pick something, I think long time between some options and obviously I make his life difficult when nothing he suggests is good for me. But after he pointed out me being rather unfair, I agreed on one of the options he suggested.

We ended up in Kava Tava, which is more known for their American pancakes, than proper food. With delicious looking pancakes, they offer breakfasts, toast sandwiches, burgers, and Argentinian dishes. For me, the first impression is very important and I have to say I was very happy about the service from the first step we took inside. Waiters immediately paid attention to us, welcomed us with smile and we got seated. Generally, I haven't been too impressed with the customer service in Croatia, so it was very delightful to find good service. 

After browsing through menu, M ordered twin burgers and I had beef empanadas. M is basically a burger specialist already so, when he ranked his burgers second best after burgers in the Submarine, it means they were really good. I also enjoyed my empanadas, which were served with bulgur salad, rustic potatoes and BBQ sauce. Our waiter suggested me to try the empanadas with lemon, which is the Argentinian way of eating them, and with the BBQ sauce which was for American taste. I tried both ways and my favorite was with lemon. Surprisingly, the bulgur salad was the highlight of the meal! Here in Croatia I have had very disappointing side salads but this one was a pleasant surprise! 

Only negative thing during our visit was the end, when I really wanted to order one of these great looking pancakes. Waiter quickly came to pick our plates and vanished with speed of light. No one came to ask us anything for another 20 minutes. After that, we finally got the attention of waiter and asked for a bill, because waiting just got us frustrated. While we were waiting for the bill I overheard some other waiter telling arriving customers that they are closing in 20 minutes because of the holiday. It is not restaurant's fault, but would have been nice to mention when cleaning our plates that "I am sorry, I would like to ask if you want something for desert, but we are closing". It doesn't take much and I wouldn't be disappointed. More annoying is to leave the customer hanging there. We will probably go back there to try the breakfast and pancakes anyway :)

Kava Tava
Britanski trg 1


Coffee struggles

Coffee might play very small role in most of the people’s lives, but as a Finnish person I have a lot to say about it. I think the biggest problem I have had while traveling and now living abroad is lack of good coffee (or coffee I consider good). As much as Croats love to live in their illusion as being “coffee country” they are far away from where I am. Here is a fun fact about Finland - Finnish people drink most amount of coffee worldwide, consuming up to 12 kg of that loved bean per capita. That is hell lot of coffee. Croats have been bragging about their coffee culture and I find it hard not to roll my eyes.

Why do we drink so much coffee in Finland? It is not only refreshing beverage to get your eyes open in the morning, but also it has deeply cultural meaning. We Finns love to talk over a good cup of coffee, preferably with long one. You hardly find hardcore Espresso drinkers, instead we drink normal filter coffee and of course long milky variations from espresso. Coffee is drank over conferences, at work with colleagues during breaks (sometimes three cups or even more) and offered to a friend as soon as they walk into your apartment. Therefore, coffee also has its social influence. When it might be sometimes difficult to have a social connection to another Finn, coffee saves the situation. You can at least talk about coffee while drinking it.

We do have “a coffeemaker” at work, but it hardly makes something, which can be called coffee. It is weak, wishy-washy and whole definition of “having a cup of coffee” lacks the social aspect. On the other hand, it is all I get at the moment so I keep drinking it. Not only quality leaves me hoping for something better, but also you have to press a button at least 5 times to get proper amount of it. I am used to full 2-3 dl cups and this coffee machine gives 1 dl at best (when picking most diluted option).

When I first moved to Warsaw, it wasn’t that bad. At least you can find proper coffee in almost all cafeterias around. Even with such good options, I made my parents to bring me a coffee maker from Finland, as well as few packs of my favorite coffee. It is nearly impossible to find coffee which is powdered for water displacement drip coffee makers. When I came to Zagreb, I already run out of my coffee and smallest cafeterias offer almost only tiny cups of coffee. “Coffee with milk” means espresso cup with milk on a side… I am not even that proud that I turned my Polish tea drinker husband into a coffee addict in Finland. At least we can now struggle together :D

After several attempts to find filter coffee from stores I finally managed to open my mouth and explain my coffee issue to one of my colleagues. She immediately knew where to ask. One of the key things to happiness here in Croatia is to ask things from someone if you don’t know something. For me, Finnish “I survive myself”- person, this has been a difficult step to achieve, but I am slowly getting there. Nevertheless, my colleague K asked her friend who apparently knows everything coffee related and few moments later I had an address to Franja caffe. This small coffee and teahouse offers great selection for tea lovers as well as solution for our coffee situation. It is also located conveniently in Ilica street, near Frankopanska.