Expat Interview: Jaime’s First Year In Croatia In 15 Q&A

Expat Interview: Jaime’s First Year In Croatia In 15 Q&A

We arrived in Zagreb in September 2015 and I thought it would be great if Jaime would somehow sum up his first year in Croatia and share it with you guys. He pretended he was on it, but the year has passed and it seemed the second will pass too. Finally, we sat down and I asked him 15 questions to illustrate what was his first year as a Croatian expat like. 

1 What do you like the most about Croatia and your life here?

Croatia is great, there is a lot of interesting things to do and visit, you can not get bored. I love the fact you can go to the mountains or to the coast in the only few hours (in Mexico everything is far), or you can have a great time in one of many Zagreb parks that Zagreb has. If you wish to have just a normal day, you can practice Croatian coffee culture, slow down and grab a drink with a friend.

Awesome summer activities in Zagreb we enjoyed this summer | Mexatia

Awesome summer activities in Zagreb we enjoyed this summer | Mexatia

2. How did you adapt to the Croatian way of life?

I think I’m doing great! Last year I had some issues dealing with the cold weather but this year I’m handling it like a local. The language is still an issue but I understand Croatian much better. From time to time, I even surprise Maja because she did not expect me to understand something. She needs to be careful now!

3. What’s your favorite Croatian food?

Favorite food, hmm that’s a tricky question, I like lots of things, but I will go for Croatian barbecue (roštilj), ćevapi, baby pork (odojak), kobasica, and fritule.

When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?! | Mexatia

Croatian Winter Comfort Food: What To Eat During The Winter | Mexatia

4. What are the biggest differences between Croatia and Mexico?

The language is very different – that’s my biggest problem hahaha. The second thing is the weather, here it can be anywhere from -5 in the winter to +35 during the summer and in Oaxaca it’s always just hot. I saw my first snow here. But in Zagreb, there is no crowds or traffic like in Mexico and the life in much calmer and safer in general. 

5. What’s your favorite thing about being an expat in Zagreb?

Favorite thing… I would say it is the opportunity to learn so much about a new culture and practice the traditions completely different to the ones I was used to.

6. And what’s the worst or hardest?

This answer will be relative, since every day we face the new challenges, we overcome it and face the new ones. At the beginning, I thought that the language is crazy but now after a year it is not so scary anymore. Last year I could not bear the cold, but you know what – this year it’s not so bad. I used to miss the spicy food, but I found different sauces and my mother in law started to grown our own chilies. Today’s fear becomes tomorrow’s joy, that’s my new motto.

7. What do you miss the most from Mexico?

I miss my family, friends, tacos and tlayudas.

Expat Interview: Jaime's First Year In Croatia In 15 Q&A | Mexatia Expat Interview: Jaime's First Year In Croatia In 15 Q&A | Mexatia

8. Which custom and habits do you find the most awesome in your new country?

I really like how the people here enjoy outdoors activities and I’m happy because the air is much cleaner than in Mexico City. During different seasons you can find many interesting activities, for example, now you can visit the Christmas markets in Zagreb, during summer you can enjoy the parks or the coast and attend some of many festivals and happenings all around Croatia.

9. And which ones are the most strange or the weirdest?

The weddings are weird. People have their roles, for example, there is a guy waving the national flag and he is often the drunkest person at the party. Also, there is a tradition when the best man needs to “buy” a bride for the groom. As he starts to bid and offer low amounts, all he gets are guys dressed as a bride, as the price gets higher the bridesmaids start to get out until he offers something the bride’s family can’t offer and he finally gets a bride for his best friend.

10. What were your first days in Croatia like?

My first days were full of the excitement, I had so many new things to learn and see. We were visiting many locations, museums, churches, parks, towns, … while we were making sure everything will be ready for the wedding. In the end, I was completely exhausted. 

11. How would you sum up your first 6 months here?

Firsts months were like a sugar rush, everything happened so fast. The things started to calm down after the wedding and I could focus on starting my life here. I started to look for a job more seriously because I was bored of being all the time at home. In the meantime, I was studying Croatian and doing exercise, but I wanted a job. Lucky me, I got a good job offer and by February I was working. Unfortunately, I couldn’t start before because I didn’t have my residency permit yet.

Expat Interview: Jaime's First Year In Croatia In 15 Q&A | Mexatia Expat Interview: Jaime's First Year In Croatia In 15 Q&A | Mexatia

12. Describe a funny situation you found yourself in because of the language or cultural differences?

The very first time I went to have a haircut all by myself, I went to a hair salon and I said: “Oprostite, dobra večer, govorim malo hrvatski, ali trebam šišanje, hvala” which means “Sorry, good evening, I speak a little bit of Croatian but I need a haircut, thank you”. The lady who was there started to talk a lot telling me things I didn’t understand so at the end of her talk I just stopped and said: “da ili ne?” (yes or no?). She said ne. So I left and I went to another one and the same story repeated until somebody said yes. The lady asked me which haircut I wanted so I took a photo from my wallet and I showed to her. Then she tried to make conversation but I have no idea what she was talking about hahaha.

Exploring the Breathtaking Solcava Panoramic Road in Slovenia | Mexatia Exploring the Breathtaking Solcava Panoramic Road in Slovenia | Mexatia

13. What do you think, how do the people see you here?

I think that they are still seeing me like an exotic person hahaha, there are not so much Mexicans here. I think around 50 Mexicans are living in Zagreb but I haven’t met them all.

14. What were your first impressions about Zagreb?

When I was in the airplane the first thing I saw was Medvednica, the highest mountain in Zagreb, and I thought it’s great because it is so close to the city. Maybe someday I could go there to run or to ride a bike. Right after we landed to Zagreb, I started to feel weird because everything I saw I couldn’t read or understand hahaha. Also, I got surprised how Croats love to drink coffee, they can spend hours with one cup of coffee, while I drink the same in 10 minutes. Zagreb is a fascinating city and I still have a lot to discover.

Expat Interview: Jaime's First Year In Croatia In 15 Q&A | Mexatia Expat Interview: Jaime's First Year In Croatia In 15 Q&A | Mexatia

15. Which advice would you give to somebody who just came to Croatia?

I did not know this until only a few months back, but it is important. If you like to do the workout in the outdoors, I assume you do not carry anything with you. Well, try to remember to take your ID because if the police ask for your identification, you would get fined with 1000 kunas fee if you do not have it.

Do not get annoyed by the bureaucracy. Every bureaucratic process is long and probably you would need to go to the same office couple of times. Check in advance online what exactly do you need or ask to someone, especially if you do not speak Croatian. You are going to waste less time like this.

But, Croatia is a wonderful place so enjoy it to the maximum. Just be careful of propuh, I heard it can kill you easily! 😉

 

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When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?!

When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?!

Not so long ago, Christmas markets in Vienna and all around Germany were the most popular places to visit during the advent. Then appeared Budapest, Bratislava, Ljubljana… and Zagreb. Since I was a child, there was a small market in the city center, where you could buy Christmas ornaments and winter clothes of all kinds. It was the only place where you could feel the Christmas spirit in the city, besides seeing the lights on the main square and surrounding streets.

Why visit Zagreb in December?

Slowly, year by year Zagreb was getting more and more facilities and it turned into one of the most attractive winter destinations. Last year, Zagreb Christmas market was voted to be the best one in Europe, leaving many much more popular and traditional cities behind. The story of the rise of Advent in Zagreb is quite impressive and the fact it became the most important event in the city says a lot.

You need to experience the special atmosphere Zagreb offers in the time of Advent. It’s streets and squares invite you explore local traditions, sample traditional delicacies and enjoy fun activities everywhere in the city. The city looks classy and elegant, it is lively and joyful. 

Read more: Winter activities for couples

When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?! | Mexatia When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?! | Mexatia

When to visit Zagreb Christmas Market?

This winter, Zagreb Christmas Market is going to be the best one and the biggest one yet. From November 26 until January 8, in more than 20 locations around the city, you can enjoy everything Christmas brings: comfort food like sausages and fritule, drink hot mulled wine, heat up dancing and see few concerts and performances, all accompanied by your dear family and friends. This year, Zagreb Christmas Market is so wide and diverse that everybody can find something for themselves.

When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?! | Mexatia When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?! | Mexatia

What is the best way to visit?

Being spread all around the city center, a walking tour around Christmas markets will give you the chance to see many popular locations in Zagreb as well. Last weekend we visited most of the locations in five hours and, even it is doable, I would recommend spreading it in two or three days for the first time visitors. If you are not sure how to plan your visit, what to wear and how long to stay, check out this amazing How to plan your Christmas market trip.

When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?! | Mexatia When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?! | Mexatia

When the most of the events happen?

The most of the concert and performances are happening during the weekends or in the evenings, so the best time to visit is after 7 pm. However, keep in mind the city gets pretty crowded (especially on weekends) and it is hard to find a parking space (extra tip: parking is free on Saturday after 3 pm and Sundays). For most of the popular food stalls, you will need to wait in line too. If you wish to skip the crowds, we advise you to come a bit earlier.

We started our stroll around 4:30 pm, right after it started to get dark. By 8 pm city was already full. We had an opportunity to visit some of the markets, browse their offer and take pictures without many people around. Of course, more people means more fun so make sure to attend some event later on as well.

Read more: Christmas traditions in Croatia

Zagreb Christmas Market Walking Tour

Our walking tour started at the Museum of Arts and Crafts, where we check out the new Nutcracker exhibition. It served as a perfect intro to the Christmas fairy tale and we decided to see the ballet, showing in the nearby National Theatre, soon. 

Christmas in the Tunnel

From the Museum we walked up on Frankopanska and Mesnicka street until we reached the newly opened Grič Tunnel. They say there are many tunnels under Zagreb’s Upper Town and this one is the first and only opened for public. It is the newest addition to the Christmas market as well! From December 16 it will be decorated with lights and a perfect venue for creative concerts.

Advent on Stross

A little brother of Summer on Stross, the Christmas market in Zagreb’s most beautiful promenade has a special charm. White wooden chalets decorated with Christmas ornaments, selling traditional foods and drinks as well as souvenirs and music in combination with the best views on Zagreb cannot go wrong. 
When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?! | Mexatia When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?! | Mexatia

Concerts on the Gric Meadow

Right behind the Strossmayer promenade and Lotrscak Tower, you can find a small market on Vranycyzany meadow. Being one of the newest additions to the Christmas offer, those two places are ideal for the ones who would like to escape the crowds – at least until the people discovers them. And it will – because some great concerts will be performed right here. It is also said to be the most romantic advent location!

St Mark’s Christmas Tree

The least popular square (a reference to the government buildings) in the city got one of the biggest trees this year. Stop by and take photos of Saint Mark’s church in the even more beautiful setting.

The Courtyards – Winter Edition

One of the most popular summer events got its winter edition! The Upper Town magical courtyards are always a fun place to visit and this advent they became even more magical. It is a unique experience because most of them are normally not open for public – some of the courtyards you can visit this winter are Palace Balbi, Zagreb City Museum, and Palace Amade.

Advent in Klovicevi dvori & Plato Gradec

The free concerts, ice sculptures, and the most attractive selfie location in the whole city. Come and visit the coolest skate rink, workshops and performances for the whole family and stand behind the photo frame. Don’t forget to press the button for the snow to start 🙂

Fuliranje in Tomiceva Street

After having a great time in the Upper Town, we took a funicular back to the downtown. During the advent period, the rides are completely free! After stepping out from the oldest vehicle in town, you will find yourself in Tomiceva street. A few years ago, “fuliranje in Tomiceva” (often wrongly translated like “fooling around” – actually means “flirting” in old city slang) became one of the most popular locations during the advent. Lots of fun and food – this winter in Tomiceva the Croatian celebrity chefs are cooking for you.

When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?! | Mexatia When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?! | Mexatia

Christmas Fairy Tale in the Main Square

City’s main square is a home to the main Christmas tree, a concert venue (the biggest New Year’s concert is hosted here as well), small Christmas market in the western part and various food stalls on the east. Last year, they set up a magical forest decorated with snow, which looked very attractive and it soon became people’s favorite. 

The Nativity Scene and Cathedral

In front of the Cathedral, you can experience the real, live nativity scene. If you have some spare time, make sure to pay a visit to the beautiful Cathedral as well.

A Food Heaven in European Square

When you get hungry, you should head to the European square, the only square in the world decorated with the million hearts. In the square filled with more than 30 wooden houses, you will find something for yourself for sure. Many fun concerts, art expositions, and hot mulled wine will heat up your heart in no moment.

When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?! | Mexatia When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?! | Mexatia

Fuliranje in Kurelceva Street

Fuliranje in Tomiceva got a younger brother – disco manifestation in Kurelceva, right next to the European square. We tried some tasty sausages here – Jaime the spicy one and I had a Debrecener sausage. If you are in the mood for other kinds of food, here you can visit our favorite Submarine and try their new Christmas burger.

Zrinjevac

Zrinjevac is the central point of Christmas market, where everything started and the most visited part of the market. The musical pavilion is a true symbol of Advent, hosting various performances and concerts almost every evening. Here you will take some of the most magical photos of Zagreb Christmas market for sure.

When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?! | Mexatia When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?! | Mexatia

Visit Rudolph in Strossmayer Square

In Zagreb, there is something for every age. Strossmayer’s Square is turned into the North Pole for kids, with interactive workshops, music and stage shows for different ages. 

Ice park in Tomislav Square

The biggest hit of Zagreb Christmas Market is for sure the ice park! This huge skate park is probably one of the biggest ones you have ever seen – and certainly the most stunning to skate on. Located right in front of the beautiful Art Pavillion, surrounded by cute wooden houses and the fountain, the skating here definitely will be memorable.

Read more: Salaj’s Family Christmas Fairy Tale

When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?! | Mexatia When Did Zagreb Christmas Market Become This Awesome?! | Mexatia

Christmas Markets in Gajeva and Bogoviceva

The markets in the city center are the perfect place to finish your walking tour. Buy handmade Christmas ornaments with Zagreb details and grab the last portion of fritule with sugar before heading home.

If you still have some energy left, you can head to Novi Zagreb. This year’s newest locations are in a new part of the town: the New Advent in the Museum of Contemporary Art and Santa Claus’ Frozen Fairytale in Zagreb Fair are just some of the newest additions.

So, if you have always thought about Croatia like of a country of sea and sun, you might change your mind. Croatia is so much more and the great way to start exploring it is to visit the best Christmas market in Europe – Zagreb Christmas market. 

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Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful Mexican holiday

Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful Mexican holiday

It’s that time of the year again! The most colorful Mexican holiday is just around the corner and our preparations are in the full swing! Don’t let the name fool you, Day of the Dead in Mexico brings lots of fun and colorful activities. It is the time to celebrate the life and death, not to mourn and be sad.

If you know anything about Mexico and their culture, I am sure you heard about Mexican Day of the Dead or el Día de los Muertos in Spanish. Day of the Dead is an ancient Mexican holiday, and even it is celebrated in the same period, it is not a version of American Halloween. They have some common grounds, but the ideas behind are completely different.

Day of the Dead is a pre-Columbian holiday which was later integrated into the Christian traditions. Its roots come from Aztecs culture and other Mexican tribes which were honoring the spirits of those who have died. Until these days, it remained a holiday which honors the memory of the dead, as the name suggests.

The Aztecs celebrated it in another time period, but with the rise of Christianity in Mexico, the holiday was moved closer to All Saints Day and All Souls Day. The old traditions and practices were merged with new ones and since then the festivities are organized on November 1 and 2. while November 1 is dedicated to the children who passed away (called angelitos or little angels in Spanish) and November 2 is the day when we remember the adults. It is believed that on those days spirits of deceased come to visit their families in order to spend the entire day with them. Families do everything to welcome them as best as they can.

Read more about Mexican holidays: Mexican Independence Day and how we celebrated it in Croatia

What is Day of the Dead all about?

Mexican holidays are always colorful and they are always all about the family. El Día de los Muertos celebrates family and its members both alive and dead. 

In rural Mexico where the most of the inhabitants are indigenous, some of the ancient traditions are still practiced. Some of them are a bit extreme and include the opening of boxes with bones of deceased and cleaning them, but many of them are practiced in the well-developed cities too. During these days Mexicans are decorating graves and spending time with their loved ones, making the altars in their homes, preparing the delicious food, bringing deceased’s favorite dishes to the graveyards and praying for deceased.

It is believed that during this time spirits of deceased come back to Earth to visit their living family members. These days are not the time to be sad, in contrary, they are full of joy and celebration. It keeps us in touch with those who we love and who we miss.  

Preparing the food for the celebration

As in every celebration in Mexico, the food plays a significant part in Day of the Dead festivities. The morning of October 31 is reserved for a visit to the local market. The families buy different fruits which will be used in the altar decoration, like mandarins, lemons, nisperos, oranges and bananas.

The popular dishes prepared in this season are tamales, pumpkins, mole negro, hot artisanal chocolate, atole, champurrado, the bread of the dead and sugar skulls. Day of the Dead bread or Pan de Muertos is the main dish associate with this holiday. If you make only one dish for the celebration, it should be this one. It is a tasty, sweet rounded bread decorated with bread in shapes of the bones.

If you wish to make your altar decoration a bit more extreme, you could buy (or make) sugar skulls, called calaveras de azucar, which symbolize the life and death. They are usually made of aramanth and chocolate, decorated with different colors and often the names of deceased and placed on the altar. Nowadays, many other figures are made as well, as coffins and skeletons. You can buy them in every traditional market at the end of the October.

I must mention how this holiday can be extremely expensive for many Mexican families. All the fruits and decorations, different dishes, as well as this special bread, can be a major blow to the budget of numerous poor families. However, this holiday is so significant to them, they sometimes spend even a monthly income to prepare the celebration.

El día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful holiday | Mexatia

El día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful holiday | Mexatia
Photo credit: Isabel from Sunny side of this
 

How to make Day of the Dead altars

On the eve of October 31, Mexican families get together to prepare the altars (called “ofrendas” or the offerings in Spanish) in their homes to welcome the spirits. This is the way how they remember the deceased family members as well as honor the lives of those who were (and still are) important to them.

The altars usually consist of two or three levels. On the table, you can place one or two boxes to create different tires and display the items on the altar better. If there are two levels, one represents the Earth and the other Heaven. Altars with three levels represent Earth, Heaven, and Purgatory. Cover the boxes with the tablecloth of your choice, you can decide if it is going to be colorful or you will keep everything in tone.

Take two reeds (esp. cañas), make an arch over the altar and decorate it with flowers as well as mandarins and lemons. The arch symbolizes a way to the heaven, the path between life and death.

El día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful holiday | Mexatia

El día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful holiday | Mexatia

To decorate the altar you should use the orange marigold flowers (esp. cempasúchil, hr. kadifica) which are known to as a flower of the dead in Mexico. Because of their bright color and specific smell, they are believed to attract the souls of deceased to the offerings and they are traditionally used to honor the dead. You can put them in a vase or scatter them all around the altar.

Besides flowers, decorate with lighted candles (they are bringing light to the spirits and help them to find the way), photos of deceased (if you wish, you can skip if your altar is dedicated to more persons or it is not dedicated to anyone in particular, or if you simply do not like it) and bread of the dead. Besides the bread, you can put any other traditional food or food your ancestors liked. Candies, chocolate, and tamales are always welcome.

El día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful holiday | Mexatia

Besides the traditional items, every family puts the items deceased enjoyed during the life. It could be literally anything – a shot of mezcal, candies, … The only rule you should be following is that it means something you and your family. Even if you are not in Mexico, you can still make your altar anywhere in the world. It is one of the traditions we are going to nurture in our family.

After the altar is taken down, you can share the food with your family members. However, it is believed the offerings are left without the taste and smell after the spirits are gone. Would you like to see if it is truth? Jaime said it is and our bread last year got much drier than the one we kept on the table.

Going to the cemetery

Back in time, the deceased were usually buried in family courtyards so families prepared only altars at home. Today, when people are buried in graveyards, people started to decorate the graves too. In Oaxaca, families decorate the graves with flower petals, some people even spend the whole night in the cemetery, celebrating life and eating deceased’s favorite dishes. 

El día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful holiday | Mexatia

El día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful holiday | Mexatia

Best places to visit for Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead is maybe the best time to visit Mexico. Festivities are organized in towns and cities all across the country, but locations do have different customs and ways how they celebrate. Even though you can enjoy those celebrations more or less anywhere in Mexico, some towns are known to organize bigger and more colorful festivities, especially southern regions of Oaxaca, Michoacan, and Chiapas.

In Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca you can enjoy tapetes de arena competition (artwork in the sand, inspired with catholic and Day of the dead motives) in Plaza de la Danza or check out the best altar contest in the main cemetery. The winner is the most good looking and the most traditional altar. Besides in the capital, you can enjoy colorful celebrations in surrounding towns of Zaachila, Etla, Tuxtepec and Xoxocotlan as well.

Michoacán is one of the Mexican states with the longest traditions of Day of the Dead festivities. In the town around the Pátzcuaro lake and Janitzio island the tradition of spending the nights awake in the graveyards (esp. ritual de velación) is still practiced. In the cities of Jarácuaro, Aracutín and Cuanajo you can find spectacular el Día de los Muertos decorations and offerings. In “pueblo mágico” Pátzcuaro you can feel the feast all around and the Pantheon is covered with offerings.

Huge Mexico City is filled with colors during the holiday season. The offerings are placed in many city museums, but probably the best place to visit is the Magic Quarter Mixquic, in the southeast of the city, where the tombs are wonderfully decorated and the pantheon of San Andrés is the center of happenings. You can also visit offerings in Ciudad Universitaria and Dolores Olmedo Museum to experience this wonderful holiday.

Ok, I guess you already got a clue about Day of the Dead in Mexico. This holiday is such an important aspect of Mexican culture that has been recognized by UNESCO as part of its intangible cultural heritage. The way how they celebrate life reflects the other aspects of Mexican culture as well.

The colorfulness, the positivity, and the family unity is what makes Mexican culture so distinctive and so valuable. I loved how Maggie from @travelwithMagz said she was in love with all the colors and how differently Mexicans celebrate death in comparison how they do it the US. In the US they mourn instead of celebrating people’s lives, after all – the same like we do it in Croatia.

Is Day of the Dead you favorite Mexican holiday too? 🙂

 

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Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner?

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner?

From the very first day, we got used that nothing about our relationship will be simple or normal. Since we started to date, we needed to survive seven or more time zones between us, more than 10 000 km and cultural differences. It worked more than fine, but we started to wish to spend more time together. We were completely sure we are a great couple and we were ready to take our relationship to the next level.

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

Why did we choose Croatia

For those who do not know us (read more in about us section), my (now) husband Jaime is a Mexican citizen, and I am Croatian. When we started to talk about the wedding, the first and the most important step was to decide where are we going to get married.

We considered many options – from the beach wedding somewhere far away for only two of us to the big Mexican wedding party. In the end, we decided to organize a rather small, intimate wedding in Croatia. To be completely honest, it was not my first option (I voted for a barefoot wedding on a beach), but the reality check got us back to Croatia. 

The most simple thing we could do was to get married in one of our countries. Getting married in Mexico meant my parents would not be able to attend it due to the medical reasons and, besides all the documents I would need to bring, we would be required to do several medical tests which would increase the total price for around 500 USD. Croatia, however, does not have any medical requirements and his family (at least a part of it) was able to come. The decision was made.

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

Documents Jaime needed to get married

I will always remember how, when we told my parents that we are getting married, my dad said: “Congratulations, you just made your life more complicated!”. Of course, he was referring to all the paperwork we would need to get through in order to be together. Our motto always was “When there is a will, there is a way.” and we were ready for this adventure (and yes, it was the adventure!).

To start with, Jaime needed to get three documents in Mexico before we could even apply for the marriage ceremony in Croatia. He needed (1) his birth certificate, (2) the certificate he was single and (3) the certificate there was no any barrier marrying me and the marriage would be valid in Mexico as well. All the documents needed to be apostilled afterward.

The first two were piece of cake. Since he was living and working in Mexico City, his parents were allowed to picked them up and they apostilled in Oaxaca, his hometown. The third certificate was a bit tricky because at the time we were living together in Mexico and the only place we could get the document was Mexican embassy in charge for Croatia, which was located in Budapest, Hungary. 

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

A Trip To Budapest

We tried everything, but there was no help. We needed to go to Budapest as soon as we arrived in Europe. Everything needed to be well planned as we needed to apply for the marriage in Zagreb between 40 and 30 days prior to the wedding and we needed to find the day when both of our embassies in Budapest were open. We booked the apartment for three days, as the first day we arrived in the afternoon, we could not do anything. The second day we hoped to get everything done, but nobody could confirm it for sure. 

We sent all the documents to the Mexican embassy several days before and made an appointment. We needed to show up there strictly between 10 and 12 in the morning, with all the original documents. They asked for (1) certificate that Jaime was single with apostille, (2) his passport, (3) his Mexican ID or any document with Mexican address on it, (4) birth certificate with apostille, (5) my passport or ID with the address in Hungary, Bulgaria or Croatia (because the stated embassy is responsible for citizens of those countries only) and (5) Jaime’s photo (3.5 x 4 cm). 

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner?

They were very friendly and they informed us we would get the document within 15 to 20 minutes. In no minute they issued the document saying there is no reason why he could not marry me. We paid the fee of 17 670 HUF (approximately 60€ back then) afterward. The lovely clerk in the embassy explained to us where we could find the bank to make the payment and which bus we needed to take back to the center.

To make the document valid in Croatia, we needed to pay the visit to the Croatian embassy too. They told us to give us the call when we will be on the way and so we did. They took the paper, gave us the payment slip and told us to come back in 2 hours. We decided to stroll around until we find a bank or post office. And so we did, we paid the fee (I think it was around 20 – 25€, but I am failing to find a proof of payment) and grabbed a coffee while we were waiting.

Somehow, we managed to do everything within the same day and we were thrilled. Even we had apartment paid for an additional night, we decided to pack and go home the same afternoon. At the time, Budapest was full of refugees and it was not the best time to visit. Also, we were nervous about wedding preparations so we wanted to seize every day we had.

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

Organizing the ceremony in Zagreb

If you are organizing a wedding ceremony in a foreign country, you need to translate all the documents to the local language. As soon as we arrived in Europe, we translated the first two documents Jaime needed to present. While we were still in Budapest, I emailed the last document so the translation would be ready as soon as possible. In total, we needed to translate three documents from Spanish to Croatian which cost us around 600 HRK (around 80€).

In the meantime, we started to look for a translator. As Jaime was not fluent in the Croatian language, the official translator needed to accompany us in the civil registry office when we were applying for the marriage as well as she needed to be present during the wedding ceremony. 375 HRK each time (around 50€). Here you can find the list of all the translators in Croatia (the document is in Croatian only, with the list of different languages).

We could choose if we wanted the translator to be from Spanish or English language, but since most of the foreign attendees were Mexican, we went for Spanish. Basically, if you are fluent in more than one language, you can choose any of them – it only matters that you fully understand the process and the ceremony.

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

Finally, we were ready to book the appointment for the wedding ceremony. We came to the civil registry office in Maksimir with Jaime’s three documents, all apostilled and translated to Croatian, my ID, the copies of best man and maid of honor IDs and accompanied by the translator. A few days earlier we made a payment of 200 HRK and brought 100 HRK worth government stamps (in total around 40€). Please take a note all the documents need to be issued within the last three months

In less than half and hour time, we had our October 23 appointment set and all the hassles we went through (I tried to leave all the stress and bureaucracy problems out of the post since we are trying to remember only the good things) suddenly were not important anymore. Our day was coming and we could not be happier! 

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

Croatia Weddings: How to get married in Croatia if you are a foreigner? | Mexatia

If you want to get married in Croatia, those are (more or less) the steps you will need to pass in order to finalize your marriage. I know you are probably not Mexican, but you will still need to visit your embassy in Croatia or some of the surrounding countries to validate some of the documents. 

We decided to have a civil wedding only, since because of the distances and other requirements, a church ceremony would complicate the things even more. Make sure to have enough time to organize everything if you would like to have a church ceremony as well.

Yesterday we celebrated our first wedding anniversary and this was the perfect moment to remind ourselves what we needed to get through. Our marriage is still not legalized in Mexico, though. Apparently, you need to do it in person in Mexico, and since it is a bit far, we were not able to do it yet, but hopefully we will next year.

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia

Last year in September we just arrived in Croatia and we had many other things in mind, so we did not plan any celebration for Mexican Independence Day. This year, however, the situation is completely different! We are on vacation, we have enough free time and we both miss some Mexican food and a few Latin flavors and moves.

Summer decided to stay longer this year and the weather is (was!) still beautiful and we decided to organize a little fiesta in our garden, as well as attend the picnic organized by other Mexicans from Facebook group Mexicanos en Croacia. Here’s how we celebrated Mexican Independence Day in Croatia.

The best way to celebrate Mexican Independence Day is with tacos, margaritas, and friends!Click To Tweet

Read more: Viva Mexico! How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia

Mexican fiesta in the garden

While I was making food, Jaime decorated the house and garden with papel picado (my favorite Mexican decoration!) and lights. The tables were covered with colorful tablecloths and big Mexican scarfs and over the door, we hung beautiful handmade carpet, which Jaime’s parents bought last year. Around we have put sombreros, alebrijes, and other Mexican crafts to make everyone feel like they were really in Mexico.

Mexican fiesta can never be too colorful! More colors there are, the ambience is better.Click To Tweet

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

We decided to prepare traditional and tasty food served with colorful salsas and garnishes like corn, cheese, and onions with chilies. Here is the list of dishes and recipes (I will add more (all) over the time).

  • tacos de cochinita pibil, one of the tastiest tacos,
  • tacos al pastor, signature tacos of Mexico City,
  • tacos de bistec and pollo,
  • tacos de carnitas,
  • guacamole and tomato salsa, to give the right flavors,
  • frijoles refritos, beans dipping salsa,
  • rainbow salsa, very attractive and tasty salad, and
  • tortilla chips with cheese salsa.

For more inspiration, check out our favorite Mexican cookbooks in English – Tacopedia, and Mexico: The Cookbook. They are both full of fantastic recipes.

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

To spice the things up, you could take some of the homegrown chili paprikas (my mom is planting them especially for Jaime) and pour it over with tequila, mezcal (Mexican traditional drink, less known internationally than tequila) and margaritas.

Also, mom made the best desert – tres leches cupcakes. After trying (and adoring) her tres leches cake, I knew these cupcakes would be an excellent addition to the party!

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

The whole evening was wonderful! The weather was just perfect and we enjoyed the night in the garden while people were learning about Jaime’s traditions and enjoyed the food we prepared. It was great to see our friends and colleagues trying out new flavors. We can’t wait to repeat it next year! 

Mexican picnic at Bundek lake

Saturday morning we spent in Bundek, enjoying Mexican traditional food with other Mexicans living in Croatia. I had no idea there’s so many of them here, but I’m glad they are and we were able to attend this lovely gathering.

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Everybody brought something to eat – we decided on taquitos, onions with chilies and tomato salsa. We tried tacos de tinga (one of Mexican food I prepare the most often), empanaditas with beans, mole, rice and one lady even brought homemade tortillas. Those were the best tortillas I’ve ever tried and they were still warm, yummy!

Tortillas are the best when they are warm. Heating them up in a microwave with water will work too.Click To Tweet

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Jaime enjoyed eating Mexican candies and trying out mezcal with his friend. We also meet many new people and the whole day was a great experience. 

However, some poor soul called the police reporting there is hanged Mexican flag and, by Croatian law, one is not allowed to show other countries flags without prior permission. The police came and fined us with 300 kunas, obviously unhappy they needed to do that because we did not do any harm to anyone. We were not loud or unpolite, just the flag was hanging there. Ah. 

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Luckily, they did not ruin the mood (too much) and we continued to chit chat and play Mexican games. These few days dedicated to Mexico were so heartwarming, spent in a good environment.

We were surrounded by nice people and awesome food – we couldn’t ask for more! Next year we will definitely repeat 🙂

Salud!

If you are interested how the celebration looks like, check out our post about how to celebrate Mexican Independence Day. You can also learn more about Christmas traditions in Mexico or Day of the Dead festivities.

 

Get your Mexico Lonely Travel Guide here.
Find your accommodation on Booking.com, or Airbnb (use this link to get 32 EUR off for your first trip!).

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Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia

Viva Mexico: How To Celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Viva Mexico: How To Celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Mexican Independence Day

It is *that* time of the year again!

In September, Mexico celebrates its Independence day and everything in the country becomes green, white and red. For weeks before you can buy decorations everywhere you go. You got it, Mexican Independence day is the major Mexican celebration and it begins on 15 of September, on the eve of the Independence Day. 

Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Every year, when the clock strikes 11 pm on 15th September, the President of Mexico rings the bell and shouts “Viva México!” (check out the entire speech below) from the balcony of the National Palace, before he rings the bell again and waves the flag. He shouts to the crowds gathered on Zocalo, the main square of Mexico City, and the crowds respond “Viva!” to the each shout.

Viva Mexico is the most popular Mexican shout. It means 'long live Mexico'.Click To Tweet

It is the modern version of the famous “Grito de Dolores” (Dolores’s shout or cry for the independence, where Dolores is the name of the town where everything started) which serves as a reminder on those who fought for free Mexico and marks the beginning of the celebrations and festivities.

Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day | Mexatia

President Peña Nieto waving the flag (source)

“¡Mexicanos! (Mexicans!)
¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria! (Long live the heroes who gave us our homeland!)
¡Viva Hidalgo! (Long live Hidalgo!)
¡Viva Morelos! (Long live Morelos!)
¡Viva Josefa Ortíz de Dominguez! (Long live Josefa Ortíz de Dominguez!)
¡Viva Allende! (Long live Allende!)
¡Vivan Aldama y Matamoros! (Long live Aldama and Matamoros!)
¡Viva la Independencia Nacional! (Long live the independence of our nation!)
¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!” (Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico!)

Source: Wikipedia

Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Dolores Hidalgo, a small Mexican town where the war started

Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Dolores Hidalgo

Story about the Grito

The very first Grito happened more than 200 years ago, on 16 of September 1810 in the small town of Dolores, located in the state of Guanajuato.

The local priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla liberated the prisoners from the local prisons at the dawn of September 16. It happened right before he rang the church bells and called the people to fight for independence against Spaniards. It was the first movement which attracted larger crowds and started the 11 years long fight.

Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Even though the independence was officially proclaimed only in 1821, this date is considered to be one of the most important ones in Mexican history. 

As you may notice, the original Grito happened on September 16, however, the celebrations start a day before. For that, we can thank Porfirio Diaz, a Mexican president from 1848 to 1876, whose birthday happened to be on September 15. He thought it would be great if he and his beloved Mexico shared a birthday so he moved the celebration!

GOOD TO KNOW

No, Cinco de Mayo it is NOT Mexican Independence Day. It marks the triumph of Mexican army against French troops in Puebla in 1862 and it is celebrated more in the USA than in Mexico itself! Battle of Puebla happened more than 50 years after and it is not a reason to eat tacos and drink margaritas like there is no tomorrow.

Independence Museum in Dolores de Hidalgo

In the small town of Dolores de Hidalgo, you can visit the church where Miguel Hidalgo rang a bell, as well as his house and the museum of Mexican Independence. 

The museum is rather small but offers a great insight into what really happened and how the war started since it is located within the ex-prison. You can see the actual prison doors which were opened by Hidalgo and visiting its 7 exhibition rooms you can learn a lot about backgrounds and precursors of independence, the battle of Granaditas in Guanajuato, Hidalgo’s ending and patriotic symbols.

In the city known as the “Cradle of Independence” this museum is not to be missed to teach us about the most important events of this historical period.

Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day

No, Cinco de Mayo is NOT a Mexican Independence Day, whatever you may think. Viva Mexico!Click To Tweet

The celebrations around Mexico

Today, Mexican Independence day is celebrated with fireworks, parties, food and other festivities. Every state capital has its own military parade. The biggest one is, of course, organized in Mexico City.

The parade starts in Campo Marte (next to Chapultepec), continues on Paseo de la Reforma, Avenida Juarez, and 5 de Mayo to finish in Zocalo. Some of the typical dishes for the celebration are pozole, tacos de tinga, cochinita pibil, accompanied by tequila and mezcal.

Mexican flag and other patriotic souvenirs can be found everywhere! Everything you can imagine is sold in colors of the Mexican flag – papel picado, cute flags, mustache, chillies  (little chili paprika holding the flag and beer) and you can find many stands around Zocalo in Mexico City.

Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day | Mexatia

Fireworks at Zocalo (source)

The place to be around this days is Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico. Located on the corner of Zocalo, it is the perfect place for celebrating the Independence Day. Its hotel rooms and terrace offer magnificent views and allow you to enjoy the celebrations without being in the crowd. 

They organize special events for Independence Day so you definitely want to book in advance

The best place to be on September 16 is Gran Hotel's terrace. Splendid view and huge margaritas!Click To Tweet

If you are interested how the celebration looks like, check out our post about Mexican Independence Day celebrations in Croatia. You can also learn more about Christmas traditions in Mexico or Day of the Dead festivities.

 

Get your Mexico Lonely Travel Guide here.
Find your accommodation on Booking.com, or Airbnb (use this link to get 32 EUR off for your first trip!).

Pin this post for later.

Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day