One of the best things about Remote Year are the days you stroll into the workspace and the only people there are two friends who say “We’re going on a bike ride, want to come?”
Then you realize you don’t have anything pressing to do so you reply, “Sure.”
Next thing you know, you’re cruising around the coast on a warm, sunny day, thinking to yourself “I need to do stuff like this more.”
Then a Croatian boxer slaps you in the face for no damn reason.
Okay, let me back up on that one.
We were biking along, minding our business, taking in the scenery, blah blah blah.
We pass some hairy jogger who looks like a gym teacher who spends all his time in the weight room. In a thick accent, he shouts at us: “Hey, are you American?”
And we say “Yup.” He replies “Yeah, America!”
Sure, why not.
We stop halfway up a hill to take in the view. And here comes that big, burly, bald Croatian dude barreling along.
He stops to chat with us. It’s the typical “Where are you from? What do you think of Trump?” type stuff.
For some reason, he zeros in on me and gets uncomfortably close. As he’s talking the dude starts slapping my face!
At first, it’s that kind of “Hey there, slugger” pat you’d get from your grandpa. But it got harder and harder, until it hit “Okay dude, F-you and get the hell away from me” levels.
The thing was, I had no idea if this was a cultural thing or if he was being a jerk. Either way, I was pissed and it was time to go.
I figured we’d never see him again since he was jogging and we were on bikes. But this guy was the Croatian Terminator. Anytime we’d stop we’d see this dude plugging away behind us, gaining ground.
After hitting a few forks in the road we figured we were safe. That the dude was gone for good. we parked our bikes on top of the hill and started taking the obligatory pictures to prove to people we did things.
We parked our bikes on top of the hill and started taking obligatory pictures to prove to friends at home we did things.
Not even 10 minutes go buy until The Croation Terminator shows up again! He gets all chummy with my friends and starts chatting with them. I wander away and stare off into the distance like I’m pondering deep thoughts but inside I’m just thinking “This F-ing guy…”
I can overhear them and find out he was a former boxer. And today’s his birthday.
Now I start wondering if he’s spending his birthday alone and I start feeling bad. So I ask what his plans are and he looks at me like I have 3 heads. Apparently, the thought of planning something for his birthday was a novel concept.
After a bit more awkward conversation he runs off. And we ended our bike trip the only way that made sense: With coffee and donuts.
While we were in Split, Thanksgiving happened.
It’s fun to have Thanksgiving surrounded by foreigners. Some stared at mashed sweet potatoes like an alien spaceship landed on their plate.
Turns out, eating so much you can’t move is a pastime that transcends culture. It’s something everyone can get behind.
We had an Irish girl in our group who was quite good at singing. So once I regained the energy to sit upright a good chunk of my night was spent playing Irish drinking songs/ballads on guitar and singing with her. Then throwing in a rendition of Under The Sea for good measure.
When it was time for a break, I’d kick a soccer ball around with the Spaniard and our resident Cuban.
Just like the Pilgrims did.
The Digital Douchebag Christmas Spectacular!
One of the most unexpected and enjoyable parts of this trip has been creating the Digital Douchebag Instagram account. (Follow it here — before it gets so popular it’s no longer cool.)
This started back in Bulgaria. At dinner, we talked about how our Facebook news feeds are flooded with pictures that show a laptop, a nice view, a cup of coffee, and a caption saying things like “My office for the day. Not bad!”
It had reached a point where seeing these posts made us want to vomit.
The four of us had a deep, unrelenting urge to make fun of this. So we created Digital Douchebag.
Deep thoughts near a deep hole
The rules are simple: Take absurd pictures of people pretending to work remotely. Write captions that are so cheesy they make you hate yourself (puns are encouraged — mostly.) Repeat.
To get content, a handful of us spent the afternoon doing a photoshoot by the beach. We got to kill two birds with one stone by making fun of remote work AND annoying yoga pictures all at once.
This made me very happy.
Kicking it with the other founders of DDB and our top model
Another night, we spent an evening running around town taking pictures with Christmas decorations, ancient ruins, statues, and more. All under the influence of mulled wine to accelerate the creative process.
Things get inexplicable behind the scenes
Croatia wins at Christmas
By the end of November, Croatia starts Christmasing hard.
In the US, getting into the Christmas spirit early means they put up decorations and play Christmas music in Target.
In Split, they line the main square with little booths selling mulled wine, donuts, and probably some other stuff but who cares because mulled wine and donuts!
One of the last nights, we go down to the main square to, I donno, take in the culture or something.
I get distracted by a band playing awesome American classic rock.
I could have stayed there all night. Especially because there was a stand cooking hot sausage right behind me.
But people wanted to go places and I’m a team player so I went with the group.
In the summer Split is supposed to be bumping, but in the winter it’s fairly dead. So the first bar we go to we don’t stay long because of said deadness.
The second place had an entire group of locals singing loudly in Croatian.
That’s what I’m talking about!
I’m excited to join in but the rest of my group is all “nah.”
I find this baffling. But again — team player — so I go with them to some club. Where I am quickly reminded that Croatian women are not all that into Brian.
Not sure what that’s about.
Speaking of failure, one of my biggest regrets from the month was putting in zero effort to meet locals. I thought it’d happen naturally. But a combination of the town being dead and me being a hermit because I was working/stressed about work led to me not really meeting anyone new.
Except for that one night, I went out with my roommate Todd. We ended up chatting all night to these two super cool people. But they were Canadian, so they don’t really count.
By the end of the month, we had eaten all the sausage and drank all the mulled wine. So it was time to go to Prague.
Where we would eat all the sausage and drink all the mulled wine.
Here’s a sneak peek: