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Published: December 26th 2018
7-20-18 Friday. After docking in Vukovar, Croatia, site of the worst artillery shelling of the Croatian-Serbian war, we boarded a bus and passed through villages where some of the buildings still bore bullet holes and/or were destroyed during the war in the 1990s. We visited the older section of Osijek with its’ large open central square faced with grand 17th century public buildings and a nearby cathedral. Adjacent to the square are buildings bearing the scars of war. In the courtyard of the Church of St. Cross,a small memorial commemorates the Holocaust next to a crucifix on which the body of Christ is made from war munitions. We moved to the center of the city where there are many grand old buildings, some in the art nouveau style, a large Neo-gothic church, a modern steel sculpture of large slabs in a row to represent a gate, and electric streetcars. Next we were driven to the village of Bilje, Croatia where we then divided into groups of ten, each group being served lunch in a private home. Our home was hosted by a sweet man who was busy cooking and serving while his adult daughter who is fluent in English, hosted at
the table. Many of the items on the menu were grown in their garden, the eggs came from their many chickens. The daughter had been very young when the Serbian army invaded and the family fled to Austria until it was safe to return. The house was large by my standards with a back decks upstairs and down. Their backyard garden, a common feature in small town Croatia, was bountiful. The economy is poor but the family we visited hosts riverboat passengers and also takes in bed and breakfast customers The daughter said they are doing well. Croatia has free education and free medical care. Because the Balkan countries have good quality higher education that is free, but do not have high-paying jobs, there is a brain drain with many graduates moving to Western Europe for a higher income. After lunch we passed through farmland, saw a stork’s nest with 3 storks and arrived at the border with Hungary where there was a short delay. We took a few photos before being told it was illegal. I got one of a Hell’s Angel of Bonsnia & Herzegovina next to his Harley. The semi-trucks were in a long line but we
got preference. When we arrived at Mohacs, Hungary we were treated to ice cream to ease the disappointment of another delay: the boat, which had moved upriver to meet us wasn’t ready for us to board.
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