Working Lives Croatia: Market trader

Working Lives Croatia: Snjezana Polic

Zagreb's Dolac market is full of life, traders selling the fruits of their labour on open stalls, a kaleidoscope of colour in the shadow of the city's Cathedral.

Known locally as the 'belly of Zagreb', local farmers have been coming here to sell their fruit and vegetables for more than 80 years.

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Snjezana Polic's day starts around four in the morning when she sets up her stall with produce from her family's two farms.

"We try to bring just enough to sell everything," she says.

"You can't offer produce to customers the next day because it wouldn't be fresh, and you can never cheat your customers. If you cheat them, they will never come again."

Snjezana, 45, was brought up living off the land and despite the long hours, and cold wet winter days, she loves her outdoor life.

"I like to talk to the customers, I know them by name, this is a wonderful job," she says.

You'd be forgiven for thinking the Dolac looks the same now as it did when it opened in the 1930s.

But Snjezana says times have changed in the 16 years she's been trading there : "Ten years ago, we could bargain with customers, now we have fixed prices. Bargaining gives charm to the market. I miss that."

And she's feeling the chill wind of austerity too.

"People are buying less, they don't have money with the situation in Croatia as it is. They are watching every penny, looking for cheaper stuff," she says.

Packing up the stall in the early afternoon, Snjezana's day is far from over as she has to leave for the farm to tend the land.

"We live well, and work hard," she says, but adds: "Our day is 24 hours long. We get up early and go to sleep very late, but I love this work."

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