In an earlier post, I mentioned that an otherwise superb meal we enjoyed at the Hotel Vela Vrata in Buzet was made appreciably less pleasurable by the cloud of cigarette smoke that drifted into the restaurant from the outdoor patio. We’ve had similar, if somewhat less frustrating, experiences throughout this trip.
Just now, for example, I settled down in a comfortable chair just outside our hotel in Bale, located in the southwestern section of Istria, the peninsula in northern Croatia. I have my book (Per Petterson‘s To Siberia) and my computer (obviously). It’s 68 degrees, and the morning light is falling upon Bale’s stone houses with their red tile roofs and weathered, begging-for-a-coat-of-paint shutters. Someone’s chopping onions for the hotel restaurant. Someone in one of the houses nearby clears her throat. A cat – chocolate-brown and caramel-tan, with a chest and paws in soft-looking white – has found a perch in an alcove set in the wall over there. It glances my way whenever I glance its way.
And then arrives the smoker. “Morgen,” he says. I nod. He lights up. He inhales. He exhales. I inhale. I cough a little. I move farther away. I sigh, inwardly.
Just for interest’s sake, below is an up-to-date chart on the rather shocking (to me, in any case) rate of smoking in Germany (Wikipedia), followed by the abstract of an illuminating article that appeared in the American Journal of Public Health in 2006. It’s odd to me that in a country that the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development says “ranks above the average in education and skills, work-life balance, jobs and earnings, environmental quality, social connections, housing, personal security and subjective well-being,” so many people are in thrall to the cigarette.