From Europe Trip

Paris Penultimate Day

Flew out of Zagreb with Malev Hungarian Airlines  on a small aircraft about 36 passengers. Stopped at Budapest for 4 hours but wasn’t worth the hassle of getting out of the airport for such a short time, so finally arrived at Paris at about 6 pm. Bags took a long time but fortunately there was no border control! Train and metro to St Christopher”s Youth Hostel for second stay and arrived at 8 . Went for a walk along the canal and had tea at a popular restaurant . The French people next to us were eating raw mince steak to which they added mustard, tomato ketchup, fresh onions! Walking home we came across a large square with people dancing. The DJ fired up Rock around the Clock so we found some space on the wooden dance floor for a jive . Followed by a slow foxtrot followed by a Merenguee ,at which point there was an all male pair next to us really firing up with some Latin step (salsa or lambada) anyway they were groin to groin so to speak. Could have danced for longer but went back to St Chris’s for a needed sleep. There were many local youth picnicking on the brick paving either side of the canal!

[jj-ngg-jquery-slider gallery=32 effect=fade animspeed=1000 pause=5000]Next day we wandered round Paris. First down to the Bastille and to the markets there. Bought some fresh peaches and cherries and a home cooked French dish with hen. Then we went further along the canal and over the Seine to “Jardin de Plantes”. A further walk along to a place Lily has always wanted to go – Luxembourg gardens – famous in the children’s book ” A duck called Angelique”. Yes we were sticking to the shade as it was a hot sticky day but some light rain was trying to relieve it . After an expresso and coke (the waiter asked Lil whether she water 1,2,or 3 grams and a straw) and snapped a video of the model boats on the lake , we started walking toward the Louvre. We expected the queue to be long ,which it was , but we found the Portes de Lions where there  is never a queue ( damn shouldn’t have given away my secrets) . We had Moulin Rouge booked prior to leaving Paris so we finished the day there. Rick wore his shorts so cost us extra money cause we had to go buy long pants for him, and we were lucky to find some because shops are closed in Paris on a Sunday. The show was spectacular, and went for 1.45 hrs. Girls and guys could really do a high kick! On the way in on the metro to Moulin Rouge there was a black guy busking with his guitar and mainly English lyrics. Anyway we got on the train to go home and there he was again . Anyway I said to him “Hey man ,do Rehab ” , he said ” How do you know I do Rehab man?” I said ” You did it on our way in ” So he did ,and I accompanied him with backing vocals on the no,no,no go,go,go and did some skat lead on the breaks ; then put all my change in his tin – he made it a pleasure to travel on the metro at 11 pm.

Zagreb

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We left Virovitica on a clean modern train, at 7:30 am, part of the trip was by bus because the train tracks were being serviced, then back on another train, and arrived in Zagreb about 10 am. The most striking thing about the rail stations here is that there are a lot of smokers! We just couldn’t get away from them, also in the other parts of Europe we’ve been in. We hadn’t booked a room but fortunately there was a  hotel straight across the train station with reasonably priced room and an early check in. The old town of Zagreb is a very stately looking place with lots of gardens and mature trees around which we spent a few hours walking. It was hot both  days  so we headed for the botanical gardens which were shady and cool. We went to my cousin,s Marica and her husband Miljenko’s place for   very nice BBQ dinner which was sort of Ricks 52 birthday celebration, followed by a walk in the residential part of Zagreb,  where they have the typical dual occupancy houses where several generations live in the  one place  and of course a large vege garden and fruit trees and balconies. Permaculture seems to be universal despite this being a city the size of Perth ( except poultry are banned in the inner residential areas ) along with home made rakia and wine – Miljenko’s white wine ( though the Croats call it zelena – “green” ) being especially fine .

 

Virovitica and Bukova

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Our journey back into Croatia started pleasantly enough on the local bus to Novi Sad . We soon found ourselves on a badly maintained Serbian bus with a poorly functioning air conditioner , it must have been 50 degrees in the bus.We saw little evidence of wartime damages in the twon despite the fact Anka had mentioned the sky was alight at night frim the NATO/USA bombing. On crossing the Danube into Croatia there was an immediate improvement in road conditions. The modern air conditioned bus stop at Osijek was a welcome relief from the heat. The Croation bus to Virovitica was marked improvement over the previous leg. We found Lidija’s house and she was there waiting on the balcony. Lily had been to Virovitica 30 years previously and didn’t recognize the place; it is a city now. We visited Bukova and met Matija Perina  who is 87 and has a very large vege garden and is one of he most inspiring women I’ve ever met; and Matija Pavina who made apple strudel! We went to Trapinska where I was born and saw the beech forest that has totally overgrown the area. On the way back to Virovitica we went through Suhopolje and past the other house we lived in prior to moving to Australia and wondered how 4 of us fitted in that small place!  Lidija kept us full with all her cooking despite being  unwell herself, and we went to my cousin Rudi’s for dinner and he also drove us to Bukova.

 

Sremski Karlovci

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My  aunt and I recognised  each other straight away on the very small station at Sremski Karlovci. Anka is a very warm caring individual and we both felt welcome straight away. Her and I talked flat out all the 3 days we were there about everything imaginable while Rick tried to understand, amused himself as best as he could. Anka has a lot of wise sayings such as; a a wise man doesn’t need to be given money and a fool doesn’t  know what to do with it! Anka also is a very generous cook, so we ate up hearty meals of mostly home grown fruit and vegetables and meat. We went to the cemetry which has her husband Stevo and my grandmother Boja buried there. It was good to go there and see the site but sad to see that Ankas face and birth date is already etched next to her husband on the granite stone , all that is necessary is her casket and her  date of death which hopefully will be a long time as she’s only 68! The town is one of the cultural centres of Serbia and has just been made the official legal centre with the main court of Serbia moving here in Belgrade’s process of decentralisation. The has been part of several different dynasties starting off as a Roman fort , passing over to the House of Hasbbourg , the Ottoman Empire and back to the House of Hasbourg(later the Austrian-Hungarian Empire) following the treaty of Karlovitz- which was signed here and ended hostilities between the two. The solid stone buildings of its streets are heritage listed. The population is largely Serbian in origin. At the end of Ulica Mitripolita Stratimirovica (Anka’s street ) is a mineral spring which runs continuously and has people coming from far and wide to collect the water. The town is situated on the Danube river 8 km from Novi Sad . During a walk along the banks of the Danube there were many frogs hopping into the water when I disturbed then and I also happened across a metre long black coloured snake which no doubt preys on them .