It was mild although humid night. Even mosquitoes weren’t so bad. Branko and I woke up at 7 just before Igor called me to tell me he is coming to hike with us.
– Do you need anything? – he asked.
– Sure, spirits/rakia and wine are always welcome. – I replied confidently.
– Will Dalmatian wine be good enough? – Igor asked.
– It doesn’t get better than that. – I said with smile on my face.
Thirty minutes later he and his friend Dragica were at our camping spot, along with half a liter of home made spirits/rakia typical for Slavonia region, and a liter of white wine.
The first thing we encountered that morning was the border patrol. Opatovac is a place where immigrants were placed on their way thru Croatia. That route is still active and people come this way in big numbers. Police men were sitting in their van. As soon as we approached they got out of the car.
– You are not immigrants! I can tell by your trekking poles. Immigrants don’t have trekking poles. – Police officer smiled.
Conversation with the border patrol was fun, they were so polite. Even more, very interested in our CLDT project. After telling them all about it we continued our journey.
Some bushwhacking was in front of us, but that was a minor problem. Soon after we’ve reached corn fields we headed towards Sotin. At one point we saw a goat farm with farmer on it. We passed beside a farm. Twenty minutes later we were surrounded by two border patrol cars. As soon as they heard our fluent Croatian they were relieved.
– Thermal cameras on that church tower recorded you. Beside that, a goat farmer called us and said that immigrants are trespassing his field. – Police man politely explained to us.
– Please, tell your colleagues four hikers are coming their way, so we don’t need to explain them that we are not immigrants. – Igor said.
The officers were really amusing, and we had a lot to talk about. Before departing, one of them told us he hopes the trail will be finished when he is retired. Sure it will.
After another border patrol that visited us and concluded that we were not immigrants, we’ve reached Ovčara.
Ovčara was a Serbian transit camp for Croatian prisoners during the “Croatian War of Independence”, from October to December 1991. At the end of the battle of Vukovar and in the prelude to the Vukovar hospital massacre, numerous men were brought to Ovčara, including wounded patients, hospital staff and some of their family members, former defenders of Vukovar, Croatian political activists, journalists and other civilians. On November 18, 1991, which was the day when the battle of Vukovar ended, the Serbian forces captured the Vukovar hospital. They gathered the wounded fighters, civilians and hospital staff, put them in buses and transported them to Ovčara. The prisoners were brought together, massacred, executed by firearms, thrown in a trench and covered by earth. (Source: Wikipedia)
This sad place is another point on CLDT which can serve as a historia magistra vitae est moment. Few miles later there is also memorial center beside which CLDT goes as well.
The day was really hot. Igor and Dragica are experienced hikers. Their backpacks were not so heavy as ours, so they were pushing us. At that point Branko’s feet started to hurt. We were a little bit too fast for him, as we figured out in next few days or so.
Once we’ve reached Vukovar we aimed for some delicious food. Igor recommended restaurant Vrške so we went there to eat Fish Paprikash. That dish is a local specialty and I recommend it to any thru hiker who will hike CLDT’s sections A and B. It is fun fact that Croats are calling this dish Fiš – which is pronounced fish, and Croat word for fish is riba.
When we finished our meal Igor and Dragica left. Igor had to work night shift. They are really nice people and future trail angels for sure.
I ate too much so it was tough to continue. We needed to get to Danube river in order to camp there.
It was late when we reached Danube shore. Here and there we encountered fishermen. Decision was to cowboy camp……whether or not that was good idea read in the next blog post 🙂
Making of a trail goes on….
This town has a rich history. It is almost 900 years old. Traces of early cultures goes in ancient history. Vučedol culture flourished between 3000 and 2200 BC. Nowadays Vukovar is best known because of a siege in 1990’s. Vukovar was heavily damaged during the Croatian War of Independence. Approximately 2,000 self-organised defenders (the army of Croatia was still in an embryonic stage at that time) defended the city for 87 days against approximately 36,000 JNA troops supplemented with 110 vehicles and tanks and dozens of planes. The city suffered heavy damage during the siege and was eventually overrun. It is estimated that 2,000 defenders of Vukovar and civilians were killed, 800 went missing and 22,000 civilians were forced into exile. The damage to Vukovar during the siege has been called the worst in Europe since World War II, drawing comparisons with Stalingrad. Unfortunately, as a result of the conflict, a deep ethnic divide exists between the Croat and Serb populations. Yet, this town is another CLDT gem with lots of history and stories to hear about.