The main square is crowded. And yet there are no crowds in my way. The many people, wrapped in winter coats, caps and gloves, cluster around the Christmas sales, leaving me with enough space and no regrets.
It’s a cold day. I can feel the winter thud down in my chest despite the hint of warm cinnamon in the air. The guy selling Christmas curios asks me to take a look at the handcrafted Croatian artwork lining his stall. “Best in Croatia,” he assures me. The cherubic angle with blue wings and squint eyes suggests otherwise. I smile, shake my head.
I’d really like a glass of hot wine but it’s a bit early to start drinking; even holiday drinking. I tighten my scarf and prowl the stalls instead.
The stalls are built like log cabins. They come stacked with food and Christmas kitsch, all that’s missing is a fireplace. The more I stare at them the more they remind me of the house in the woods that lures Hansel and Gretel: the bright colours, the gooey cakes and the heaps of candy. I wait for the witches crackle: car horns come blaring through.
When my nose feels like it’s going to fall off, I look at my watch. It’s still early. Left with no choice I step into my favourite bookstore that stands quietly at the edge of the square. It’s warm and smells of crisp paper.
Paper trumps cinnamon.
I forget all about the hot wine.