September 19th, 2006 – by: nonna
Vukovar (Osijek), Croatia and lunch with host family
The Croatians I met are wonderful people, marked by their history but not embittered or resentful. (The Serbs I met yesterday had seemed defensive about their history.) Croatians seem to have accepted their hardships with dark humor as part of their history and are focused on the future. They want into NATO in 2007 and the EU in 2010. I have no doubt they’ll figure out a way to accomplish this. First a little about what they have endured:
Slovak tribes settled in Croatia in the 7th century AD and the area seems to have been involved in wars ever since. It was invaded by Venice, then the Turks before belonging to Hungary from the 12th to the 16th century and then to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Vukovar street sculpture
After WWII, Croatia
was part of Yugoslavia
and its leader was Tito, a Croatian and a skillful politician.
He played the West against the USSR
to maintain as much independence as possible for the country (I heard several times how Tito said “No” to Stalin’s requests in 1956 - obviously a source of pride in Yugoslavia.)
In 1980 Tito died and by the time the USSR
dissolved, Croatians wanted to secede from Yugoslavia
In 1989, they did and the massive Yugoslavian army stationed throughout the area fought them for 4 years resulting in 11,000 deaths.
In the small town of Vukovar, they fought for 3 months, street by street and building by building with up to 3,000 bombs falling daily.
Osijek Church of the Holy Cross
Even riding through town on a bus, I could see building after building still pockmarked with bullet holes.
With typical Croatian black humor they have made street sculpture out of captured Yugoslavian tanks and ignored patching bullet holes, instead spending their time clearing fields of landmines and setting up shops.
We took a bus from the Danube port town of Vukovar (pop. 45,000) to the city of Osijek (pop. 107,000). I hate trying to photograph from a bus, between reflections from the windows and blurry focus from the speed, I usually don’t get useable photos. However, there’s no alternative other than not taking any photos at all. . . and we all know that’s not going to happen. . . . Anyway, from the street market in Vukovar to the roadside tank sculpture/memorials to the city center of Osijek, I took photos.
I took more photos (thankfully being now off the bus) of the fort (Tvrda) on the Drava river in Osijek
We had a wonderful lunch with a host family and another good local wine..
Back to Vukovar and we missed a Hungarian band performance in order to wander around the street market. I saw for the first time the large peppers the region is famous for. It’s harvest time and everyone seemed to be selling large bags of golden-colored peppers. Diz and my husband had dinner at a fish restaurant along the harbor while Trish and I were just
Of course we ate, but it was aboard the ship.
I’m still sick and really needed to get some rest.