Leg One of Croatia!

Trip Start Aug 01, 2006
Trip End Dec 29, 2006

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Flag of Croatia  ,
Friday, September 15, 2006

Today was a travel day, not a super travel day, I only consider it a
super travel day if we get on an air plane, which means careful
packing and careful interpretation of obscure and confusing luggage
regulations, but a travel day none the less. Our regular travel day
consisted of getting up at seven, check to see if Collette broke
anything or hid wrappers, food, toys etc. in obscure places.
Especially in the wedges of cushions and corners of closets. When this
was accomplished we dressed ourselves and her, said good-bye (c-ya for
the authentic version) to our very nice Hungarian hosts, and headed
for the metro with all of our gear in toy like a little clown train.
We took one metro train no problem but then due to an error by someone
in our group (I am not here to place blame, it was Christy) we took
second train in the wrong direction. This was quickly rectified and we
made it to the big train station with ten minutes to spare. We then
spent six hours on the train that consisted of watching the Hungarian
countryside roll, two passport checks and then the Croatian scenery.
Croatia appeared to be more like France with rolling green grassland
sprinkled with small villages. Most of the villages had red tile roofs
and are of made of stuccoed cinder blocks. Not as nice as France but
still what one would call quaint. We arrived in Zagreb, which is a
fairly large city of about a million, and headed for the tourists
info. We found out we had to take tram 2 or 6 three stops. After
giving Collette 23 no's we had a heated argument in font of a
substantial trolley crowd and boarded tram 2. This took us to the bus
station. We asked a few questions and barely made the bus (a nice bus
with big seats). The bus took us to the airport where we rented a car,
Volkswagen Golf to be exact. Map in hand we headed out for two and a
half hour drive to arrive at the edge of a National Park in Croatia. I
would write the name but I can't spell it correctly and it might hurt
you to pronounce it. Along the road to the park there were many little
handwritten wooden signs that read "Zimmer" which means that a local
is renting out a room in their house. We randomly picked one and drove
down a gravel road to a small house, a chicken coup and a substantial
woodpile with an axe still buried in a stump. Out of the house
hobbled a hunched over old lady and an elderly man in tow. They
greeted us warmly but really started smiling warmly and making coo-coo
noises when they saw Collette. Yes the house is little run down and
the water heater is still warmed with wood but how can we say no. I
give this account of the details of our travels not to highlight this
particular ordeal but to illustrate the nature of our travels by this
example and to give an overall picture of a Travel Day. There you go.

One thing we did notice as we drove through the small Croatian
villages is that some have been abandoned and the houses in disrepair.
If you look closely at these buildings you can see the pucker marks in
the stucco made by bullets and larger holes, which I can only assume,
were made by artillery shells. These houses probably were once
occupied by Serbs who fled the country during the war. During our
travels we are constantly reminded of warfare and man's violent past.
We see big furry hats with black eagles on them, swords of all types
and makes, and the ever-present canon and beside it a neat pyramid of
cannon balls. It looks more like an ornament or piece of art than an
instrument of destruction. Seeing these objects in Museums and castles
removes a lot of meaning and context. Seeing this recent evidence of
war, the empty building with bullet holes and vacant windows, is the
difference between seeing somebody's scar and seeing somebody's
stitches. One is a vague recollection of an outcome of some violent
act and the other is a fresh image of what that violence has done.
Seeing this had a profound effect on us and we are glad to be alive,
traveling for our enjoyment, and sharing this joy with our daughter.
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