March 11, 2022

In this week's blog post our guest author Alejandra Gotóo is exploring how it feels to experience a city through olfactory sensation. What scents do you associate with the town you live in here in Croatia?

Our five senses help us to experience the world. But how often do we pay attention to them? There is so much information on our brains when visiting a new place. Amazing architecture, landscapes, food and drinks, friendships… It might be overwhelming, what if we break it down into pieces? Today I will only write about a certain nose, in the style of Tristram Shandy,by Laurence Sterne. Remember when he spends pages and pages and more pages describing his uncle's nose? But, this time I do appeal to the cleanliness of my readers mind to understand that a nose is a nose. Although sometimes it might be something else for the purposes of this post it is a nose and nothing else.

Enough with the mini digression, let’s pay attention to the matter on hand, Zadar smells and the imprint of them on my mind. Some days ago I was finishing dinner at Maguro (you need to try this place and its ramen), we put on our coats and walked through Old Town. Then, I got a familiar smell on my nose. It was burned wood. I have been smelling this since the first night at Zadar. I am not a wood expert, I wish I knew what type of wood it was. I have not seen any stoves or fireplaces but I have smelled them, this smell makes me think about families in their homes, husband and wife doing housework, kids playing, doggo barking. It also makes me think about cosiness, reading on the sofa and drinking tea or coffee. I am not sure how close I have been to them and their particular stories, so for me it is the smell that’s familiar, among these imaginary or invisible families, with or without kids, with or without doggo. Always with books and a smile on their faces. The scent is not something burned that stinks, it is a soft smell. It is an aroma that lingers. I will call it the smell of home.

Another scent is fresh baked bread. Every morning smells like it, sometimes during the evening too. I have got to love this smell. It seems like it is a sign of welcome to the new day, moment or thought. Bread here is absolutely delicious. And did you know you can buy just half of the loaf? I learned this thanks to my local friend Nikolina. That way you always end up with fresh bread. There are some with seeds and those are my favourites. They are brownish. In my country we usually do not have so many dark breads, it is mostly white bread. Not white like the sandwich type, but just light colour. In my country one of the most famous breads will be “pan de muerto”, you might recognize it from the Coco movie. I am not yet sure which is my favourite bread here, so far I loved them all. I would go with the colour, and if it has seeds you need to try it! You can spread some butter or cheese, perhaps turned into a bruschetta or just use it as a side dish. Bread can be as versatile as your mind allows you!

The third smell that I have encountered frequently in Zadar is quite easy to guess. Every time the wind blows you can smell it at the back. In fact you do not quite need the wind, you just have to pay attention. I am always experiencing the sea and its saltiness. The Zadar sea is so unique. Have you visited the Sea Organ? Thanks Nikola Bašić for this ingenious musical instrument powered by the waves! Cool place to chill and enjoy the smell and the sound of the ocean. Also, the colour of the salty water here is absolutely stunning. Unfortunately it is cold right now. I have not been able to swim. I have gotten into the sea a couple of times or perhaps more. But just for a few minutes (3-10 min). I have done this as part of a mental exercise to undergo controlled stress. But do not worry you certainly do not have to go into cold water to smell it! The sea will always be around the corner of your nose. And if you decide to visit Pag Otok it will also find you in your cheese!

We cannot remember every single experience but we can remember their warmth in our skin, the sounds in the background, the smell of the surroundings. Sometimes we forget so many things and we are just left with the sensations on our bodies, some sort of remembrance in our tissues. What stories would we tell if we break them down into sensations? This was my adventure in Zadar with my nose. How have you been experiencing it? Try to focus on the sensations. And eats lots of delicious food! Should I write something about Croatian flavours next?

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