Our visit to Rab fortuitously corresponded with Croatia's long-awaited ascension to full membership in the European Union, scheduled for the stroke of midnight on July 1.
Skeptics might ask, in light of the experience of Greece, Spain, and other Mediterranean countries, whether this was truly an occasion worth celebrating. Or whether Croatia, only 20 years after fighting a bloody war to escape one uncomfortable federation, would really enjoy being part of another one.
But skeptics were not much in evidence in St. Christopher Square in Rab -- and presumably throughout the country -- where EU membership was being celebrated as a rite of passage for this relatively new nation.
We were treated to a generous sampling of Croatian folk music and dancing, the raising of the EU flag to the "Ode to Joy" and--perhaps in a nod to the newly free flow of goods and services--an aging English rock band playing fairly enthusiastically received Yardbirds tunes.