From Croatia

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.

 

Dubrovnik to Sarajevo

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A run was definitely order given my ankle seems to have recovered. I find it is further than I realised and is 5.7 km to the outer  edge of the old dock. After getting back to the hotel I make way to Cava beach .I snap a few shots from my phone of the surrounds. The little fish of many colours accompany me while I swim. In fact where the water depth drops off sharply to 5-6 metres they are still calmly there – I guess that means everything that eats them has been caught. As I am getting my gear back on my eye is caught by a couple covered only by a towel no doubt getting their rocks off on the rocks.( If you look closely at the image you may see them in the shadows – I didn’t when I took the shot ! ) Following a buffet breakfast at the hotel we get a bus down to the main bus depot . The lady opposite  us doesn’t realise Lil understands her swearing in Croatian about all the tourist’s bags! We purchase tickets to Sarajevo. The trip goes over 3 borders , from Croatia to Bosnia back to Croatia and finally into Bosnia . We get to see Neum and Ploce in the daylight this time . The trip goes through spectacular country following the Neretvar river . Along the way there are many buildings riddled with shell and bullet holes and I note about 10 identical gravestones dated 1994 as the bus slows down alongside a Mostar cemetery. There is a gradual change as we travel from large crosses to more and more  Mosques ,yet there are still ,in Sarajevo even ,very few women in head scarves . How do you tell the difference between a Bosnian Serb ,a Bosnian Croat and a Bosniak — you can’t and what are 3 main causes of war – religion , religion ,religion . Sarajevo ,despite Torvill and Dean , unfortunately is not spectacular; maybe it is in winter.

Dubrovnik

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Woke to a glorious Mediterranean morning but it was going to be warm. After a big feed at the buffet breakfast we made our way down , the 5 km or so ,to the old town of Dubrovnik . You enter over a drawbridge , through a stone gate and onto the cobbled main road. I presume in the past there was a water filled moat rather than the road that is now underneath. We joined the queue for tickets to the walls before it got too long. The guys that walked these walls must have been fit as the steps are steep – no OH&S back then . It is a total of 2 km round the walls. There is evidence of recent damage from Serb airstrikes and shells , re-rendering and new rooves etc. The town has been rebuilt several times over the centuries due to wars and after the earthquake of the 1600’s. The coast around the walls is beautiful like the rest of the Adriatic. We watched a 3d movie on the history and walk round the old port. It is busy in the main port we note there are 4 large cruise ships docked which dwarf the Jadrolinja car ferry. After a drink at one of the cafes we make our way back up the hill to hotel Tirena. A swim at the nearby Cava beach is in order and refreshing though Lil decides it is too choppy. I note the first evidence of current here which is very gentle – apparently the tidal movements are undefined a metre.

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