The past year has seen many people across the world grapple with a very specific type of loss; the sadness of a trip not taken, and the yearning for experiences beyond the anomie of the supermarket. As that strong desire for, and impulse to, wander the world fell victim to the pandemic in a turbulent 2020, we seemed at one point to be surging toward an anticipatory dystopia. Who were we without travel? What do we have to look forward to when there is no international vacation booked for the summer?

Over the course of the past 12 months, we’ve been commissioning artists, painters and illustrators from different cities all over the world to paint a picture of what they see out their windows – either real or imaginary. Most artists have been confined to these cities during the global lockdowns, and all have a close connection to the place they have illustrated.

Each artist has a “GRAZIA At Home City Guide” perched on their window sill, insider guides to the cities you need to visit when the world re-opens. Each artist recalls moments past in these nooks of the world; how they drank in the palaces, how they wandered through the parks, and how they ate and ate and ate. There’s recommendations too – local dishes, phrases and lessons – so you can start imagining your own itinerary from the comfort of your own home. Today, we’re headed to Rijeka in Croatia.

As Ana Salopek’s illustration suggests, the Croatian port city of Rijeka is a uniquely vibrant pocket of the globe. 

“Rijeka is Croatia’s third largest city and is a modern seaport with rich history – a city where alternative subculture lives and is strong,” the artist says. “Rijeka is really a port of diversity, with storied industrial and port histories and home to beautiful and great people. In Rijeka you can find all shades of colours; rough and gentle at the same time.” 

The harbour-side city is colloquially known as the gateway to Croatia’s famous islands. With this in mind, a morning coffee by the seaside is a must according to Salopek. Elsewhere, the artist suggests lunch at Boonker – a popular pizzeria that looks over the main waterfront. During the afternoon she suggests exploring a number of destinations including the streets of Trsat, Kozala cemetery, Torpedo Launch Station, The Children’s House, and the Balthazargrad Exhibition.  

“The vibrant and strong colour palette in my illustration is a nod to the famous Croatian animated cartoon [Professor] Balthazar. Rijeka was the model and inspiration for Balthazar’s creators.” 

Salopek was once a student while living in the Croation city and describes the city as “contrasting” and “free”.  

“I can’t recall my fondest memory of the city, but I know the feeling,” Salopek recalls. “I felt free and scared at the same time. That feeling of freedom to be what ever you want to be, but also apprehensive me at that time.”  

Now, the artist resides in Ogulin, a small town in north-western Croatia where she quarantined with her children. “I enjoy nature and the beautiful silence of small towns. Being a solo mum in this time is easier in a small town than in a large city.” 

If she were to envisage the bustling metropolis of Rijeka into a scent it would be “Spring” (Kim Kardashian bottled it below) – which according to Salopek is also the perfect time to visit. One day…  

Follow Ana Salopek @gospodica.ura 

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thoughts?