CROATIA – 7th to 14th May
Osijek to Slatina (95km)
Slatina to Zagreb (175km)
Zagreb to Berzence (125km)
Fortunately for me Dinko, a new-comer to couchsurfing, was eagerly awaiting my arrival and ready with drinks, toasted sandwiches and a comfy bed to welcome me to Osijek. He proved an excellent guide to the town, and area, who wasn’t put off by my (what must have seemed) macabre fascination with the war scars still evident on many of the shell-marked buildings. With the still-recent history that he had grown up through, it was understandable that he wasn’t overly eager to talk too much about his experiences of the war.
After three nights with Dinko I set off to meet another new couchersurfer, Neda, in the small town of Slatina. Perhaps because of the size and location of the town Neda had never had a CS guest before and she and her family threw themselves into looking after me with much gusto. For two nights we waited out the damp and subdued weather with excellent home-cooked food, good company, walks up beautiful nearby hillsides, and a great sharing of stories. Through Neda I learnt much about the war and its lasting impact upon the areas through which I’d been cycling (the physical scars I’d been so surprised to see in the border towns and villages of northern Croatia were the most obvious, but not the only, lasting damage of the civil war).
Having made such good progress on the Steed I decided to visit Zagreb before leaving Croatia and, despite the determined rain, enjoyed touring the beautiful streets, lively central market, museums and cafes before taking a tail wind to just over the Hungarian border. After the warm welcomes, greetings from passersby and generosity that I’d experience in Serbia and Croatia I was looking forward to getting to know the Hungarian culture in a similar fashion when I arrived on the 14th May.