a long walk

Varazdin Travel Blog

 › entry 13 of 17 › view all entries
This medieval fortress defended the city against the Turk invasion and other attacks over the centuries. Varazdin was the original capital of Croatia until most of the city burned and it was moved to Zagreb.
Varazdin has a lot of bells... I mean at 530 Sunday morning bells start ringing from all directions - all sizes and tones from churches scattered throughout town - and continuing through the whole morning, calling people to various masses, ringing in the hours...

After exploring the medieval fortress in the morning (did I mention they have a medieval fortress?), we headed out of town on foot to visit the Drava River up the highway towards Hungary and Slovenia. Since we had killed the car last week... it was several miles of walking, out past the edge of town. As we left the Baroque style city center, the fortresses and cathedrals gave way to stone houses, light industry, and finally densely wooded countryside. Near the river were Gypsy encampments, locals fishing and hiking, and more thick, tall hardwood forests.


The river is wide and deep, originating in northern Italy, forming the Croatian-Hungarian border, and eventually joining the Danube to flow into the Black Sea. It appeared that former military installations along the bank had been converted to densely overgrown parkland. One thing I noticed here and throughout Croatia is the number of playgrounds for children. Anywhere there's an open space, along roads, nestled deep in the woods, are little playgrounds with really cool equipment to play on - not just a swing and crappy slide. Children are really well taken care of, with schooling available from age 2 and up. My friend says that all ends when you graduate though, you're kind of on your own with a good education but 25% unemployment and a "you're lucky to have this job" attitude from employers.
The less seen back of the fortress, from the high earthworks that were the first line of defense


Instead of staring at more old buildings, we visited the entomology museum. There's a huge entomology museum right in the middle of this tiny town! Housed in a former palace, this collection takes several hours to view, and you could spend half a day there. There are tens of thousands of insects in the collection. It's not just some pinned bugs, but also hundreds of perfectly crafted models of microscopic insects, hundreds of reconstructed burrow entrances and nests. A whole room devoted to "burrows of solitary bee species- it's hard to explain - but it's amazing the amount of effort that has gone into all of this. This was originally the work of Franjo Koščec, and entomologist who collected all over Croatia and taught high school in Varadzin in the 1940s. He founded the museum with his personal collection in the 50s and his daughter carried on the work after his death.


Sadly, after dinner we got back on the bus for the long ride through the night back home amid another long volley of dusk bell ringing.


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This medieval fortress defended th…
This medieval fortress defended t…
The less seen back of the fortress…
The less seen back of the fortres…
Sitting in a hole
Sitting in a hole
Dense forests begin at the edge of…
Dense forests begin at the edge o…
The mighty Dravda River near the H…
The mighty Dravda River near the …
Out near the Gypsy camps
Out near the Gypsy camps
Lunch by the river - tiny frogs we…
Lunch by the river - tiny frogs w…
Cross country through the undergro…
Cross country through the undergr…
On the bank of the river Dravda
On the bank of the river Dravda
Look how fun these playground toys…
Look how fun these playground toy…
Entrance to the Entomological Muse…
Entrance to the Entomological Mus…
Butterflies from floor to ceiling.…
Butterflies from floor to ceiling…
A model of a head louse....
A model of a head louse....
A wall displaying nests of all of …
A wall displaying nests of all of…
A quick stop for mass at on of the…
A quick stop for mass at on of th…
At mass
At mass
A last dinner of mushrooms, french…
A last dinner of mushrooms, frenc…
Once again a chorus of bells from …
Once again a chorus of bells from…
Varazdin
photo by: morandini