The inaugural episode of Remembering Yugoslavia is all about the Yugo car.
Antonija Buntak, founder and principal of Yugocar Adventure, takes a drive through a brief history of the legendary vehicle, offers her take on the Croatian politics of retro, and shares the story of her love affair with Božo the Red One.
Yugoslav yogurt, Jay Leno, and a bunch of other cars also make an appearance.
Episode Transcript (and More)
ANTONIJA BUNTAK [DRIVING]: OK, so it’s a Yugo car, named after Jugo wind, not after Yugoslavia. Mainly people think that the name Yugo comes from the name of the former— Yugoslavia that existed until the 90s. However, actually it was a trend in the 80s to name the car after winds, like Golf and Passat, so this is when our government got an idea to create a little car for Yugoslavia and to name it after a wind, which is Jugo wind, which means “southern wind”.
PETER KORCHNAK: That’s Antonia Buntak, founder and principal of Yugocar Adventure, a company that rents and gives tours of Zagreb in Yugo cars.
I am Peter Korchnak and this is Remembering Yugoslavia, a project exploring how the people of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Kosovo remember—and imagine—the country that no longer exists.
It’s a crisp November afternoon and we’re going from the parking garage where Božo sleeps to the makeshift studio I set up in the kitchen of my rental apartment in the Zagreb city center.
I’ve never ridden in a Yugo. Growing up in the 1980’s I only saw Zastava 101s on Czechoslovakia’s roads. And as I listened to Antonija give a brief history of the legendary vehicle, I feel like a little boy again.
Compounding the excitement is the fact the interview is my first for the Remembering Yugoslavia podcast—and Antonija Buntak the star guest of the inaugural episode.
ANTONIJA: So, it’s a small car, but it fits five people. So, even though it’s relatively small. The first one was produced in 1978 and presented to Tito, who was the leader of Yugoslavia. Allegedly, Tito didn’t like it that much. However, after he died in the 80s the mass production of this car started. Total there were 800 000 Yugos produced between the beginning of 80s and 2008, when the last Yugo was produced in a factory in Serbia.
So, this is the red one and his name is Božo, and I have absolutely no idea how I got an idea to name him Božo. I’m trying to remember that, but I don’t know, it— just a name popped into my mind and that’s basically it. The other two have— for example, the yellow one is called “Yellow,” Žuti, which means “yellow” in Croatian, and the blue one is called Zagi, which is a nickname for Zagreb and what was the mascot of the sport event from the 80s, Zagi, and blue is the color of Zagreb, which is on the coat of arms. So, the other two have logical names. This one has absolutely no logic, I have no idea why I named him Božo, but it’s a red one, it’s from 1987.
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Antonija Buntak, founder of @yugocaradventure tour company + Božo, one of her three Yugos. . . . #YU #yugoslavia #exyugoslavia #formeryugoslavia #rememberingyugoslavia #jugoslavija #yugonostalgia #jugonostalgija #yugo #yugocar #yugotour #oldcar #classiccar #retro #backtothe80s #citytour #sightseeing #zagreb #zagrebcity #croatia #croatiafulloflife #hrvatska #neweastinfocus
Out of those almost 800,000, 145, 000 were sold in the U.S., were produced for the U.S. market, which was a very—it turned out to be [a] funny and failed idea to sell the Yugo car to the U.S. However, this is what brought Yugo to its fame and glory and now it’s one of the best known cars in history.
I think the biggest problem is that Yugoslavia didn’t understand the U.S. mentality of the 80s and tried to sell this tiny little car that has no power steering, no automatic shift and no AC to the country that had Ford from the 50s—that had AC, automatic and power steering so the country that has rode this huge cars with all those advanced technologies, then 30 years later we thought that country and those people would enjoy Yugo of course, it was— it was set to fail. However, as I said, if we didn’t have that idea of selling the cars to Americans, Yugo probably would be forgotten and this way it will never be forgotten, it became a legend.
PETER: Today, months later, as I reflect on the mystery of Božo’s name, I imagine it comes from the Croatian word “obožavati,” meaning to worship. Whatever the story—and we may never know—I can understand why Antonija loves the car.
Yugo may not be named after Yugoslavia, but luck would have it I begin this podcast’s journey in a car. I’m curious where the idea for Yugocar Adventure originated.
Yugocar Adventure: The Origin Story
ANTONIJA: There were three sources of that idea. The first one is that Yugo was my first car, this is when I learned how to drive, on a Yugo— my dad actually taught me— so it’s my first car, I had a lot of adventures from with my Yugos back when I was 18 and 19 years old. All my friends have a story “You know that one time when we were seniors in high school, when we drove around in your Yugo…” So that’s the first thing, and absolutely everyone in ex-Yugoslavia that got a driving license back— what, some 15, 20 years ago or more— have a similar story, a crazy adventure in a Yugo. So, that was the first thing, this is where the love towards Yugos comes from.
The second thing is that I went to Armenia a couple of years ago and I rented a Lada Niva, which is a Soviet car, and I rented that one with my friend, and I was so excited because my whole life I wanted to drive a Lada Niva. So we rented it. I was… I didn’t sleep at all the night before and as soon as I sat in the car I drove through the red light and later I got a ticket for doing so but— um, I mean it was because of the excitement— but then I figured ‘Wait just a second! So if I was so excited about Lada Niva, then there must be some lunatics in this world that would be the same excited about Yugo car.’
Plus Yugo car and then I studied a little bit and figured out that in absolutely every country you have old cars that will take you for tours. You have old American cars in Havana, Cuba; you have Trabants in Berlin; you have Mini Coopers in London. So, you have it absolutely everywhere, and we didn’t have it in Zagreb, and me being a guide, I sort of connected the dots; I connected my love towards the car and my memory of the car with Armenia’s adventure and also with the fact that there are similar projects in every part of the world.
I launched it in August 2018, this is when I started, when I, well, launched the website and the Facebook page and Instagram and so on, and all the publicity started 3 weeks later because someone somewhere saw it online, and as I said, it was like a chain reaction, once—actually the first interview that I gave—I was actually on a tour while the number one news in Croatia called me—which is RTL Direkt and it’s the number one evening news in the country— and they called me, I was on a tour and I said: “Yeah, but I’ll be back”, so they actually waited for me to come back from a trip and that was the first interview. And since absolutely everyone in this country watches that evening news, this is how everyone heard about it and then all the newspaper followed and yeah, the marketing was really great, the publicity is excellent.
It started as a hobby; it started as a project, a passion project, but it’s still not the main one, I still work as a guide, I still work for the same companies I worked before opening this, and I should invest more in marketing. However, so far everybody loves the story so much that people actually do rent it, they, people hear about it— a lot of it is promoted by the word of mouth— so people hear about it, recommend it to someone else, recommend it—
The last one actually I had a couple—the last ones, it was a few days ago, there was a couple from Michigan and they heard about my Yugos from their taxi driver from the airport. They said they like old cars and he told them: “Oh, yeah, yeah, there is this someone that rents out Yugos, just check it out online.” They found it, they liked it, they booked it and this is the way how still to now the customers are finding it.
A lot of Croatians like it, which I never was— I never even thought about Croatians when I started with the whole project. The thing that I had in my mind being a guide were mainly Americans, were mainly foreigners, but then it seems that it’s a big hit [in] Croatia because, as I said, everybody has a story, everybody wants to hear the sound of a Yugo, everybody wants to smell a Yugo, and I have people— now I will— I have to print the gift certificates because a lot of wives buy to their husbands as birthday presents… They rent a Yugo, they rent a Yugo for a day or two for their husbands.
PETER: Smell a Yugo—what do you mean by that?
ANTONIJA: Well, Yugo has this very distinct smell that I like to call “the smell of Yugoslavia” which is basically cheap fabric, leaking gasoline, and cheap plastic all blend[ing] into one.
But it’s similar to a lot of old cars, but since our old car was a Yugo… I mean, if you sit in any old car, if you sit in an old Renault you will have the similar smell, but for us, living in the territory of the ex-Yugoslavia will bring us to a Yugo, because our old car was Yugo, not a Renault.
PETER: As for who rents the Yugo cars…
ANTONIJA: I would say Croatians are 60, foreigners are 40 percent, and foreigners are 40 just because I don’t have enough time for marketing. And Croatians heard about it because it was all over the news. “There is some crazy person in Zagreb that has three Yugos and rents it out to tourists.” So it was very popular and still, I mean, is and it still, every now and then I have to give out an interview about it and Croatians read about it and— this is how Croatians hear about it, but with foreigners I should invest more in marketing…and I will.
Yugo, You’re Retro
PETER: Having taken a ride in the Yugo, I understand the appeal. Yet I wonder how much of it is simply about riding in an odd vintage vehicle and what part relates to the country that made it.
ANTONIA: Well, I think now in the world there is a big retro trend, so you have from filters on the Instagram, now everybody wants to be from the 80s, now we have the comeback of big hair for women, so the haircuts, the hairdos are huge. Now even here in Zagreb we have the Museum of 80s, we have also in Dubrovnik—there is a museum of—I don’t know exactly the name so don’t quote me on this one—it’s either Museum of Yugoslavia or Museum of something like that*, of communism— but anyways it is a big trend and I would say it is a trend in the whole world to do this comeback, this nostalgia about 30 years ago when we were younger is a really big deal, so I would say this would the number one.
And then secondly Yugos are very popular cars, very funny cars and people like to make fun of it, but I have to say that no one ever makes fun of my Yugos. When they sit in a Yugo they are so amazed, they love it so much that it’s more, yeah, coming back to the thirty years ago when people were just younger.
Not a lot foreigners connect it with the former system, former Yugoslavia, even if they know somewhere in the back of their minds that the name can be connected, even though it’s not named after Yugoslavia, but there’s—I mean it’s similar, similar name, and produced in Yugoslavia—but a lot of foreigners do not connect it with that. They connect it with being the worst car in history and with all those jokes and funs—I mean Jay Leno, I think, he had the whole series of making fun of Yugo, he made up some 40 something jokes with Yugo.
Then, Yugo was a movie star, there is a famous scene in Die Hard 3 when Samuel L. Jackson drives it. Then you have it in Who Drowned Mona movie and Mona was drowned in a Yugo and everybody… So Yugo sort of rose from that connection with and it’s quite interesting because it’s—and even while we here I have to tell you when I’m driving—we’ll get to the foreigners—but when I’m driving around, because I, personally I drive them a lot, they are my cars that I use as my transportation—so I have this… people which are either left or right-oriented and it doesn’t really matter, even they are against Yugoslavia, against communism, against all of that, they have a huge smile on their faces when they see a Yugo, so they never want to destroy it, or… So I have to say that Yugo from the point of view of the foreigners, from the point of view of the locals sort of rose above this communism and that part of its legacy.
So it’s just a car that everybody thinks it’s cute, it’s funny and they just want to try to drive it and to be driven in it. And regarding what amount of history the foreigners are taught in a Yugo, well it depends whether they rent it or they have a guided tour. If they have a guided tour, they have a professional guide that will, that takes them around which is either myself or one or two of my long colleagues because as I said all of us are guides, professional, this is our main job.
So they learn a lot about history, they learn a lot about sights, but I have to say that I’m not focusing only on the 20th century history but the whole history of Croatia, about Zagreb dating back to 11th century and so on and so forth, yeah, so they do learn, but if they rent it they just get the car keys and the car and I see them when they bring the car back.
The cars are insured, of course, so, I have insurance, but you would have to see how people drive those cars. So, those cars are taken care of more than any Lamborghinis or the new models of Tesla cars. So, they are taken care of more than the most expensive cars in the world because the people that rent it, they rent it because they really want to experience it and they know that they are… these are old-timer cars and they are taking excellent care of them, so I’ve never had, so far we haven’t had one single accident or problem with it, never.
The Response to Yugocar Adventure
PETER: History, and Yugoslav history in particular, in today’s Croatia is under constant scrutiny, used and abused for political purposes. I wonder whether she’s received any negative reactions to using a symbol of Yugoslavia for business.
ANTONIJA: I have to say that I haven’t seen any negative reactions. I was once stopped by a police officer because just, he just wanted to see the car from the close by. I am being stopped with people driving brand new BMWs because they just wanted to know how old the cars are and I have, I had absolutely no negative reactions.
Once, the internet troll, after one of the interviews, wrote down that I have red hair, which I don’t, I have brown hair and that I must be a communist. This was the only thing that I read that—I mean, I don’t even know whether I should qualify this as negative; first of all, I don’t have red hair, and second of all, I’m not a communist—but, it was the only comment that could qualify as the negative one.
So, absolutely everything else— and bear in mind it’s coming from both right-oriented and left-oriented, so I have a lot of friends that— I mean I am more liberal, I am more leaning to, in my political views, towards the left, of course, however I have a lot of friends that are also more right-oriented, but they love it, and they love the idea, they are sharing the posts, they are driving in cars and it’s…
That’s why I’m always trying to emphasize that this is not a political movement or anything, this is… This is just about the car and I’m trying to lift the car even more above the politics, yeah.
About the negativity or positivity you have to bear in mind the fact that people are very emotional over here and that not a lot time has passed from the end of Yugoslavia, from the war and so on, so we’ll leave it to the history what will be the final, the final statement about that, but, uh, in every part of the world when you look back, when— You just remember you were younger, people were younger, you are always happier when you are younger.
I mean, I am not that old but still I’m happy— I, well, I just think of my student days as a very happy part of my life because I was younger I was 15 years younger than I am today. So, and, um, the good thing is that, uh, I was a little bit afraid, hence the garages and so on, but then when it all started, when we rolled all of it, then I realized that people are really distinguishing Yugoslavia from the car, and, yeah, except being stopped by a police officer, which was hilarious ‘cause I had clients in the car, I had the couple from the US, and I was like ”no, now they will ask for the documents” which of course I have, everything is fine, but it’s a hassle, and no, he just smiled and he’s: “oh, I just wanted to know how old the car is.”
And so this is— these are the stories. Then I had one young gentleman whose father actually worked in the factory that produced— I mean, Yugo cars were made in Serbia, right, in Kragujevac, but they had different parts from all the different parts from Yugoslavia, and the plastic were from Croatia— and his father worked in the plastic factory and he actually had the original keychain from original Yugo which was 35 years old and he was— he cried, when he saw the car he actually cried. It was a gift from his girlfriend, she also gave it to him, the renting a Yugo, for his birthday and I met with them in the garage to give them the keys and so on. He didn’t know what he was getting and when he saw the car and when I gave him the car keys, he literally cried. So, this was maybe, this was the best thing, yeah, it was hilarious; and they drove around, so they rented it and for 4 hours and I said: “Yeah, I don’t care, you can just bring it back whenever you want” and so on.
So, I never look the time, I don’t care, because the thing is that if they like the car they can stay longer, they can stay… When I see the real enthusiasts this is what I like and this is the whole point of my company. It might be earning money but it’s not in the money. The thing is that when I see how much joy it brings to people – why not? Rent it, drive it, love it.
Yugo Goes to Personal Life
PETER: To dig in a little deeper into Antonija’s love affair with Božo and the other two Yugos she owns, I return to her personal history.
ANTONIJA: So, my family had two: my dad had it and I drove my dad’s and then my brother bought one as well, but I preferred my dad’s and so when I passed the driving license—of course that you know how to drive, because I mean the driving course in Croatia was ridiculous 20 years ago. So basically after getting my driving license I drove around with my dad in my Yugo and I loved it and I have so many memories, from crashing it into— I crashed, which was terrible, I was 18— and I crashed into… It was a Citroen parked on the other side of the street of probably the widest street in Zagreb. I managed to back it so far that I crashed the whole car. Yugo didn’t have one single scratch and that Citroen was completely destroyed. It was parked on the other side, so there were no cars, there were no… Terrible. So, that was one of the things that I did.
And yeah, I have a lot of stories from high school as we were driving around and picked up… So, I didn’t have a radio, so we brought from— the big, the— what is— the Boombox and so on, and so we were driving around in a Boombox and trying to make Yugo go over 100 kilometers per hour which is, what, 69 miles per hours, and it did, so, that was the big, the big deal for my old Yugo.
So, yeah, yeah, I have a lot of those nice memories from Yugo and no, we don’t own them anymore. Um, I don’t know what my brother did with his though, but my father dro— oh, yeah, yeah, I remember also because I shared the Yugo with my dad when he would go to work, because he would never lock it and then as I was coming back from, I don’t know, night out or something every morning I would just mess up everything in the Yugo, I would just turn it into a gear, I would put the window down, and turn the radio up to the maximum so when he would turn on the Yugo it was screaming and so on. So, I messed a lot with him, it was really fun and… I don’t know what happened with that one. He— I think he drove it and then it was not, it was not well maintained by the previous owner, so at the end he just gave it to someone or I have no idea what happened with that one as well. But my brothers sold his, I remember that.
I was born in ’84, Yugoslavia fell apart in the ‘90s. So, ’91 is when the war started and I have only fondest memories. I was 5, 6, 7, I was in kindergarten, had absolutely no worries in my life and that’s it. Who doesn’t have nice memories from the age of 6? So, absolutely everyone.
So, I didn’t worry that much about politics when I was 6 or 7. So, basically my memories were fine and were great and the memories of my family… So, the thing is that my family was always sort of middle class. We were middle class back in Yugoslavia, we are middle class today so we didn’t get unbelievably rich in the new system, but we are not homeless in the new system. We were not— my parents were never members of the Communist party, but still managed to get a decent life for us back in the previous system.
So, basically we’ve always been the same, the time has changed, the structure of the country and the political— I mean, the political situation obviously has changed— but in my family we always had pretty much the same so I don’t know, maybe I’m more leaning towards capitalism and one of the examples is now I’m using the old communist product into having financial gain in capitalism, which is the whole point of capitalism.
So, I don’t know whether it would be— whether I could do it if now was 1982, I don’t know, maybe I could, but still, yeah, for us it was always exactly the same, for my family.
PETER: I only learn this later, as I travel through other former Yugoslav republics and am able to make the comparison, but it strikes me that Yugocar Adventure is an outlier in the Croatian marketplace. Retro may be a thing in Croatia, as it is elsewhere, but the connection with Yugoslavia isn’t as strong, except perhaps in flea markets where senior citizens sell off the contents of their living rooms and attics to make ends meet.
After the break, the politics of retro and yogurt in Croatia.
[INTERLUDE INTRO JINGLE]
PETER: This episode of the Remembering Yugoslavia Podcast is brought to you by…you. Support the production of the Remembering Yugoslavia podcast on Patreon, at Patreon.com/RememberingYugoslavia. Thank you.
[INTERLUDE OUTRO JINGLE]
ANTONIJA: Well, there is one company that have like old cars, which are not exactly old cars, they are replicas of old cars and they are— they were made now last year, two years ago and so on, but they are electric like little golf carts, but they look like old cars, somewhere from the 30s or so. So they are doing it, and they have also nice guides and I like them, but then again, they are not my competition, because these are completely two different branches, different kinds. So the ones that wanna drive around in an electric, new car that looks like the one from the 30s, they will not choose between the two, at least I think so.
The ones that will choose a Yugo will be the original old-timer car and they would like to do it. The other things that might be retro are those museums that I mentioned previously, the one, the Museum of the 80s and so on, that might be retro, so this is— oh, and every now and then, you know, retro is— it has such a comebacks, so you have, for example, sweets in Croatia, or Cedevita, which is this energy drink, let’s say you know, Cedevita, it’s like a powder and it’s like an energy drink, so we like those old cans and old wrappings of candies and so on and now it’s a comeback, so, all of those are now have the new, modern twist of old 80s wrapping and so on, which is really funny. So, there is a comeback of retro.
The Political Aspect of Yugocar Adventure
PETER: And the political aspect?
ANTONIJA: Well, you know how I would describe it? So, when you have elections to win— I mean, Trump won on elections by repeating “Let’s make great America… make America great again”. So did he talk a lot about GDP, boring stuff and so on? No, he didn’t. So, the thing, same thing is here in Croatia. Here in Croatia the problem is that the politicians will never talk about percents, unemployment. These are boring stuff that no one is interested in. The things how elections are won over here is by stirring the pot and by going on the emotional side and by talking about Yugoslavia.
One of the hilarious statements that our president had for newspaper somewhere in Switzerland** was that she had lived in Yugoslavia and that she always wanted to eat a yogurt. Yugoslavia had the biggest dairy industry there was in Europe at the time and currently we have on our TV the commercial of milk and, I mean, one of the dairy companies that is celebrating its sixtieth birthday, so obviously it existed in Yugoslavia, and everybody, I mean we were like “what is she talking about”. We have so many kinds of yogurt that—okay, we didn’t have imported yogurt—but we had our yogurt. I mean, what’s the deal with that? I mean, now in Croatia we have big promotion of eating Croatian food, so… I just don’t get it.
So, basically I would say that it’s just things that are currently still in Croatia… This is how the elections are won in Croatia, by stirring the pot and by playing those kind of…cheap cards, but I don’t think it will last for too long. I am giving them another decade and that’s it, and then I think, at that point, they will have to start to talk about the boring stuff, like GDP, unemployment, education and so on.
I would say the biggest problem is that the war was never qualified as an aggression of another country. It was qualified as a civil war which it wasn’t by all means; it was not a civil war. Uh, and the issue is that when Milošević’s army entered from the east, they were still called Yugoslavia because Serbia and Montenegro were still called Yugoslavia for another couple of years, even though Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Macedonia declared independence, they were only two left, but still kept the name and the anthem, the coat of arms and the rest and so on. So the biggest problem is that people have the memory of Yugoslav National Army, but it was not the Yugoslav National Army, it was the Serbian branch, I mean that Milošević’s controlled branch of Yugoslav National Army, so that, the problem is the terminology, definitely, and the thing is that over here the elections are won by twisting the terminology.
And actually I am an historian so I have masters in history; even though my masters is about Afghanistan, I studied the world history so I’m trying to look at it more objectively and as I said my family had absolutely no feelings about the prior, the… the previous or the current system in the name of— I mean, in the sense of economy, so we’ve been doing always the same, so…
And… but the other thing is that I haven’t lost anyone in the war, so you have to bear in mind the fact that if someone lost a father by a guy that had a red star, red star on the hat, will not go very deeply into the historic, uh, historic traces of that, and also, if that person is not well educated, especially in the sense of history, then most likely they will not go too deep in what was going on over there. That is, at least, my opinion.
PETER: If it’s going to take a decade for things to change in Croatia, I wonder what that time means for Yugocar Adventure.
ANTONIJA: Where do I see Yugocar Adventure in ten years? I have absolutely no idea. Uh, I think that… my idea is I don’t want to have too many Yugos, I just wanna keep it like elite, elite fleet, maybe 5 tops, and I see them being over here and I see me giving tours to other enthusiasts, car enthusiast, I see…
I would like to go to some old-timer shows, which I didn’t have enough time to do it now, but I do plan to go there; I would like to visit some places of interest that are connected with Yugos; I wanna do… I would like to go to that old factories, not just the one in Kragujevac, but where all other parts for Yugo were made; talk to people maybe over there to see what their opinion of Yugos is, so, why not, yeah, but I have no idea, I didn’t think that far. I don’t know what I’m going to do the next year. Maybe I’ll just buy a Skoda or something and travel to Czech…I don’t know.
PETER: In addition to Yugocar Adventure in Zagreb, there are companies in the capitals of former Yugoslav republics, Sarajevo, Belgrade, that do something similar. How is Yugocar Adventure different?
ANTONIJA: Well, I have to say that I never went on their tours, so this is the first disclaimer that I have to say over here, so my knowledge about those companies is based on what I’ve read online. And the difference is that they are focusing more on Yugoslavia, while I’m not, so, I’m focusing about that car, I love that car.
I noticed that the ones in Belgrade, they don’t have a lot Yugo cars, they have “Stojadin”, which is a different type, it looks like a limo and it has four door, so it’s not the Yugo and I have only Yugos, so I don’t have any other types made in the same factory though, but I don’t have any others, mines are exclusively, only Yugo. So, that is a big difference, which maybe some foreigners won’t tell the difference, but I do, so… For me it’s important, so… Also they are, as I said, going to some very important sights for Yugoslavia, explaining about Yugoslavia, while I don’t, I will show the cathedral in Zagreb, which is before Yu—, which was built before Yugoslavia; I’m going to show the National Theater, which is also before Yugoslavia; but then again, we would go to New Zagreb, where you have the Mammoth, the big apartment building which was built during the former Yugoslavia. So mine is more the combination without focusing of the former country that much.
The other difference is that, as I understand, they have a lot of cars and some of them are not the professional guides, and the whole point is in driving around. For me, in every car you have the professional guide, a guide that has been a guide for the last 5, 7, 10 years and the guide that will give you recommendations, not only what to do in Zagreb, explain about Zagreb, but also if you’re traveling to Zadar, we’ll connect you with our colleagues in Zadar; if you’re traveling to Dubrovnik, we’ll tell you what are the must-sees in Dubrovnik, what’s not to be missed and so on. So, we are sort of having the whole picture because we have—my focus is— first on the cars; second on the guides. Actually, they are equal, these are the two— I will not send someone that is by my opinion not an experienced guide. Even in the— if I have to cancel, I would rather cancel the tour then send someone that is not my trusted colleague that I know will do an excellent tour. And yeah, not that much about previous system.
My focus is not Yugoslavia— but one of my favorite places in Croatia is the village where Tito was born, the former president of Yugoslavia, and its ethnographic collection, and it’s the open air museum where you have in every old farmer house, you have a different craft explained and from there I like to go one hill, the top of the hill where you can see the whole area with wine growing hills, with castles, and it’s wonderful and it’s breathtaking.
I do the tour, because I’m also a guide for that county of Croatia, and eating and drinking, which is the whole point of Croatia, come on, you have to eat and drink in Croatia. But the only complaint that I ever got from working with foreigners over here is that they gain weight and I always told them: “Yeah, I don’t care, I consider it a compliment so you should promote that as a compliment, not as a complaint’ and then they laugh and say: ‘Yeah, yeah, we’ll diet when we go back home,’ so… So, that would be just…indulge all your senses when staying in Croatia and hence the smell of Yugoslavia.
PETER: When I visit Kumrovec a few days after my conversation with Antonija, I find myself wishing I’d come in a Yugo and parked it under Tito’s nose. Alas, my rental is a Volkswagen Polo and parking for the Tito’s birth home museum located a little ways from the famous statue.
Over the course of my travels, in Croatia and Bosnia, I stop to photograph an odd Yugo here and there. Later in Serbia, as I near Kragujevac, Yugos of all generations become so ubiquitous as to become part of the landscape. I almost stop seeing them.
And the Zastava factory halls where all those Yugos were made stand abandoned on the banks of the Lepenica river, while the legend lives on.
You can find links to all the sources and resources mentioned today, including photos of Božo and more, at RememberingYugoslavia.com.
Transcript by Zorica Popović. Outro music courtesy of Robert Petrić.
I am Peter Korchňak.