From Vukovar, Croatia
CRUISING DOWN THE DANUBE ON FOUR WHEELS, PART 3
OUR NEXT STOPS: DARDA, VUKOVAR
Visit to my childhood villages – coffee break in Darda, Croatia
Leaving Budapest this morning was easier said than done. It was not quite as bad as Bratislava. At least the Hungarian capital did have some road signs. Trouble it, they did not bother to keep them up.
For example, they would give us a sign for, let’s say, the freeway A6. Which we needed to go south toward Croatia. So we would make a turn. Five miles later, there were not additional signs guiding us to this mysterious freeway. So we felt as if we were driving around in circles trying to get out of Budapest.
Until I eventually just used the old reliable sun as the guiding star, and pointed our car south. :Sooner or later we’ll have to get out of this wretched place,” I said. And we did.
Several hours later, we had a minor hassle entering Croatia. The border officer wanted to see some car registration papers which we did not know we had. Eventually, we found them in the glove compartment. And everybody was happy.
We veered slightly off the main road to Osijek, Croatia, to pay a brief visit to my childhood home in the little village of Darda. That’s when memories started to flood in.
This is where my family lived between my ages of 3 and 8. This is where I started school – first grade, of course.
This is where my father was imprisoned on Tito’s orders by his communist government and falsely accused of planning to assassinate the Yugoslav president.
My father was eventually released after spending nearly three years in a communist prison in Slovenia. But not before being severely tortured in an unsuccessful effort to extract a confession from him.
This is also where I and a Hungarian girl next door made our first attempt at sex. I was seven at the time. She may have been a year or so older.
My parents were aghast when I told them what we had done with a perfectly straight face. We thought if animals could do it, why not us? My parents ran right over to our neighbors to form an anti-sex parental coalition controlling both sides of the fence.
I never understood what the big fuss was about. Nor why they did not let me see this girl again. 🙂
This is where my friends and I played soccer with a rag ball on the lawn of of the once magnificent Count Estherhazy castle. Which now lays abandoned and in ruins.
As I have just discovered this Count Kázmér Miklós Esterházy de Galántha (1805 – 1870) is the person to whom Franz Liszt dedicated his Hungarian Rhapsody #4.
So another revelation and an explanation about why my spirit guides led me there, both as a child and now.
This is also the town which today I wanted to order a coffee but did not have any Croatian currency with which to pay for it. No problem The kind owner bought me the coffee on the house. I was so touched I insisted he take some Euros for it.
CRUISING DOWN THE DANUBE ON FOUR WHEELS – Part 4
Vukovar: Once war-ravaged town now flourishing on the Danube
Vukovar is the town where the Yugoslav civil war started in earnest in 1991. For us, it was the rest point and the last overnight stop before crossing into Serbia.
There are still some scars left. But overall, Vukovar is today a beautiful little town on the Danube, looking across this mighty river into Serbia.
Here are some pictures from our walk this evening.