From Osijek to Ilok, Croatia

Trip Start Jun 16, 2007
Trip End Oct 10, 2007

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

The next morning, Sunday, Another beautiful day's ride, but hot and then returning to beside Danube upriver from Vukovar where I found an ATM and stopped for lunch at a delightful shaded restaurant at the water's edge. Vukovar suffered enormously in the conflicts with the Serbs, and there is still massive evidence in the damaged buildings and facilities. getting hillier through vineyards and looking down at river.

As I continued on in the later afternoon, the geography changed and the road was mainly on a bluff a mile or so away from the river-bank and I was going through vineyards. Whereas in most places the ground tends to rise when you approach a village, here they were placed in the dips where the land goes down to the river, so each one was at the end of a steep dip, followed by and equally steep incline on the other side, a bit like riding in and out of Polzeath every half-hour.

Although I generally have a rule that I stop for a rest at the TOP of hills, I stopped at one - Sarendgrad, where I chatted with the bunch of local lads drinking in the bar there after a day canoeing on the river. They told me how they'd all grown up in this little village, but had been evacuated as refugees during the civil war, only returning about eight year ago and that on that afternoon they had - for the first time since they were children - gone over to an island on the other side of the river, now in Serbia. It was difficult to conceive how in this idyllic riverside village there had ever been anything other than centuries of peace and calm, but the truth is that less than 20 years ago tis was the area of some of the most viscious fighting and ethnic cleansing. It was a sobering thought.

At last I arrived at Ilok, the last town before the Serbian border, just as the sun was setting, once again going down a steep hill and thinking to myself "Heck - I'm going to have to start up with this in the morning. I found the Hotel Danube (I think the fourth I'd stayed in) right by the river with a wonderful outdoor dining area packed with people, including one of the lads I'd met earlier at Sarengrad.
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