Slavonia and the Homeland War

On our way through Slavonia, the north east region of Croatia, we saw a number of reminders of the very recent Croatian War of Independence. We chose to ride north out of our way a bit in order to see some of the cities more impacted by the war, including Osijek and Vukovar, though we saw many empty buildings and artillery fire damage even within 100km of Zagreb:

In Osijek, this particularly powerful monument marked the Croatian resistance where a car was parked in front of a tank in defiance. Of course it was crushed, but this more imaginative recreation of that incident portrays the fact that Osijek was never captured.

Vukovar was the hardest hit city in the war and was almost completely destroyed. When we were in Zagreb, we spoke with a woman who, as a child growing up in Vukovar, found herself and her family hiding in their basement for many weeks until tanks began firing at their barracaded front door until they were forced to come out and be captured as prisoners of war. The city has been rebuilt and even though it still shows many signs of the conflict, it also shows the resilience of the Croatians and the reconciliation and reconstruction that has begun.

We’ve really enjoyed the cycling through this part of the country as well! A few random photos and comments.

Interesting architecture in Osijek, near the park where we ate our meso burek for lunch. A local came up to us to ask about our trip, welcomed us to Osijek, and was excited to hear we were from California.

We followed parts of the EuroVelo 6 cycling route which goes from the Atlantic to the Black Sea. Because of this, we saw at least 6 other cycle tourists, including an interesting solo cyclist from England headed to China, who we rode with for a little while and hope to meet up with again in Belgrade.

Our first glance at the Danube River, which we will mostly follow until Belgrade:

We cycled through hundreds of kilometers of gorgeous farm land in Slavonia. It’s impossible to capture the vast peacefulness of this area:

One night we stayed with a delightful French woman with an amazing farm in a town that even Croatians don’t know the name of, complete with peacocks, sheep, chickens, ducks, and two-week-old baby kittens. She rents out rooms, hosts cycle tourists, and takes in work-away guests who help out on the farm.

Finally in Eastern Europe we have found cheap prepaid SIM cards that are cheaper than our current roaming plan, so we’ve set up a hotspot using this unlimited 7-day 4G card:

All through Croatia are road-side shrines like this one. Some are simple statues or crucifixes, and some are full-fledged parks with Virgin Mary shrines, benches, and landscaped gardens.

And next, we are on to Serbia towards Novi Sad and Belgrade, before returning to the Croatia coast through Bosnia. Stay tuned!