We had just spent a long cycling day crossing the isles of Krk and Cres then were dropped by ferry on the Istria peninsula with a steep climb yet still ahead of us to reach our accommodations. Terrain here rises sharply from the sea. Then it was three tired and sweaty cyclists trying to find an address on downhill lanes that google maps chased us down. Some helpful neighbors corrected the problem and we were soon on a deck overlooking the sea far below us with three beers our host kindly provided happy to end our day. All that was left after showers was a hike back up 300 meters to the restaurant.
We questioned our middle aged waitress about how slow the tourism seemed to be. Was it too early in the season? Residual effects of COVID? “No, COVID has been over. That’s in the past. The season is not early. It’s the war. No one is traveling. The memories run deep here.”
For people here, the war between Bosnians, Serbians, and Croats in the 90’s was like just yesterday. The bullet scarred buildings, those shattered by artillery fire, and the rock skeletons left by bomb blasts we’ve seen in so much of Croatia reflect the even deeper scars in the people themselves. We in America can have no idea. Our battles have been overseas. Our homeland has been untouched since the Civil War. We are seeing remnants of destruction from World War I, from World War II, and of course the 90’s as we travel through Croatia. It must be gut-wrenching for them to see war erupt again in Europe.
Tonight at dinner we overheard a conversation between the waiter and a younger couple at another table. Ukraine had come up. Lindsay asked them as we left if they were from Ukraine. One was from Russia and the other from Ukraine. They had left a business in Ukraine, and fled the country with their child. The man shrugged the situation off but the woman’s glistening eyes reflected the pain.
6 thoughts on “Croatia”
A gruelling day for you all, followed by the realisation of the sadness that prevails in that part of the world.
We need to avoid these nine hour cycling days – too long.
Yes Buck, its like that here in Australia, there has never been war here on our continent (well never that us whiteys have felt). Australian soldiers have only gone to war to help you lot or the British. Its funny/insidious how it sticks. My mother used to tell me about English soldiers ransacking her family home in the middle of the night looking for guns as my grandfather was a (suspected) IRA freedom fighter in the 1920’s. He actually was and was shot in the arm but never got caught. So It sticks with me a bit. We sat one night in a bar in Mostar in Bosnia and listened to a bar keeper who was 17 during their Balkan civil war. He told us that now the war is finished he knows that half? of the people in the town were killing his friends, knows some of them even. Well what a great trip up the Dalmatian coast you have had. It will be a bit different up the Istria coast if that is your route. My memory seems to recall more beachy and lower coastline. Not sure about the inland as I did not ride it. Slovenia is a way north for you but Bovec and the Soca river valley then the big mountain pass into the town of Kranjska Gora is a really fabulous mountain region. And back down through the Trigalev national park. Lake Bled is nice but was jam packed like Sardines when we were there as it is a very popular place because it is so beautiful.
We’ll be in Ljubljana in four days, then head northeast to make a loop that eventually brings us back there for the end of our trip.
I’ve been wondering about what you see and hear about the affects of the wars. Such a terrible waste of human lives. Your so right, we do not have a clue. We feel so safe.
I’m doing 20 minutes on the stationary bike without resistance. I feel like a little gerbil in a wheel. Going fast nowhere. Long ways to go, but I’m going! My best to the others.
Hey Jini, glad to hear you’re making some progress with that leg. It’s got to be hard with spring in the air to be laid up. Great trip. Put it on your radar screen. Bob would enjoy this part of the world too.