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Monday, June 20, 2016

Day 21, April 11, Osijek & Vukovar, Croatia, Part 1

Former luxury hotel closed
due to the war
With our arrival into Croatia we began having to carry our passports.  While in EU countries that was not being required. Border officers boarded the ship to check the passports.  Later in the day we would have to be face checked against the passports.  We were allowed to get on the tour buses and head out for our day's adventures, passport in hand.

The tour bus moved through Vukovar and the guide pointed out areas of interest we could visit in the afternoon during our free time. It was not 9 AM and vendors were setting up their booths for the day.  Of course modern shopping areas are always available as well as coffee shops and restaurants.

The guide was a local person and provided a great deal of information.  There were workers building flowerbeds and walks in a park.  The guide said they were part of the city's workforce.   She said the unemployment rate in Vukovar was about 34%.
Vukovar was overrun by Serbian forces after an 87 day siege.  The city of Vukovar lost almost 50% of its population during the war.  There are some once beautiful homes bombed out during the Croatian War of Independence just standing as a testament to the horrors.
We pass bullet riddled buildings in the city center.  One such we visited in the afternoon.  A lady stood in the door encouraging the obvious tourists to come in and see her wares.  Beautiful articles that made their way home with us.

The war damaged city water tower has been preserved as a symbol of the Battle of Vukovar and the Croatian War of Independence.

It is not all gloom and doom.  There has been a considerable amount of rebuilding and repair.  There is still a deep pride in the long history of these peoples. Pride in the fact they still survive after occupation by the Turks.

We leave Vukovar for our visit to Osijek.  The flatter geography and dark soil, again, makes me think of my childhood home area.   The green fields look like winter wheat to me.   We arrive to clear skies.  One of the few clear days we have during the trip.
We disembark near the Osijek Citadel or Tvrđa complex for a walking tour. Tvrđa is the best-preserved and largest ensemble of Baroque buildings in Croatia and consists of a Habsburg star fort built on the right bank of the River Drava.
Photoshop panorama 
After a time for looking around and photos we proceeded around the square and down another cobblestone street. Sidewalks are fair game for parking in the narrow streets.

We pass a school of music on our way to the Rising of the Holy Cross Church.   There would be a vocal presentation by one of its top students at the church.  Before entering the church there is a shop to be looked into for souvenirs. Nothing caught my fancy so I wandered around taking photos that might be used for some of the memes in which I participate.

Within the small courtyard are two memorials.  A cross made from artillery shells
 Jewish Memorial
Part of old fort wall

from the Croatian War for Independence.  The second is a memorial to the Jewish population lost during the Holocaust.  Prior to WWII Croatia had a population of 40,000 Jews.  Census in 2001 had 495 down from 2000 in 1991.   So life moves on in Croatia, just not for everyone.

The young lady arrived for the presentation and we entered the church.  I was just not prepared to see this level of ornate decor in a small church.  I grew up in small churches and early on they barely had heat and certainly no air conditioning.  And most assuredly nothing like this tiny gem.  It has managed to survive for several hundred years of wars with minimal damage.


I will close this part of the day with a couple of videos I very unprofessionally recorded with my still camera.  I have not used this feature much so the detail is not great.  But oh the voice and the piano if you could have been there in person!

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