For a pacifist, Croatia is not easy … you see the results of a European war in our lifetimes! Greeted within 100 metres of the border by warning signs of land mines, one became aware it was safer not to picnic beside the road. By the time we got to Vukovar I guess we were ready to see gutted buildings and bullet damage at the level of tens of bullet marks per metre square. Reconstruction is taking place fast, but evidently all needs replacing…. restoration only makes sense on a few historic buildings. I guess they are leaving the town’s heavily damaged water tower as a monument. We stopped in Sotin, a town of about 3000, for lunch. As we left I (Chris)looked in an army tent in the middle of town, long enough to see pictures and memorials to about 40 people. Such a small town, so many dead. What a failure of diplomacy.
At Vukovar, we found our way to a small Danube ferry, since we hoped to cross to Serbia for quieter roads on the far side. This was a locals only ferry, with no real customs facility for dealing with Canadians or even Europeans.
Shortly beyond Vukovar is an obelisk, and a new cemetery that seems to stretch on forever. Old women in black bustle about with flowers. With all this sadness in the background, people in shops and cafes seem so happy to see us. I guess having tourists travel through is a hopeful sign of recovery. Perhaps we were subsidizing that recovery with an unexpectedly expensive hotel for the night we stayed in Osijek, a small city with a very Western feel.
Just before Ilok, we met German cyclist travelling the other way. He’d started in Sofia, Bulgaria, and was headed for Zagreb, then to Slovenia and the Adriatic Coast. In Ilok, we spent our last kruna on beer (Chris) and Coke (Margo) in a café, and on chocolate bars in a small shop, just before crossing the Danube to enter Serbia over a rusting bridge.