We wake up during a refreshing shower but when the sun breaks through the clouds it becomes very warm almost immediately. Still, it seems to be a bit cooler, 30 degrees at most, and we go for a drive so we see more of the country. Also a break for our skin to recuperate a bit from all the intense sun-violence.
First we drive to Nin, a village just north of the campsite. It is a small town with a partly restored medieval wall. It is nicely situated with views on the sea and on the mountains on the mainland. Many times we are being surprised by wide panorama's. That is also something we missed in Hungary, there were not many wide views and almost no surprises.
The highest point of this mountainrange we cross, is at 1044 meters. There is one mountain in the distance (not on the picture) with such a white top that we are not sure whether it is snow or just very white rocks on the top.Our goal for today are the waterfalls in the national park Plitvicka, about 150 kilometers from Zaton, but very soon we notice (again) that traffic goes very slow in these mountains. This time we could drive a bit further on the new highway than last monday, when we arrived. Roadworkers are busy everywhere and this time we also have to pay toll, while on monday we just could drive through. We wouldn't be surprised when this highway (from Rijeka in the north to Dubrovnik in the south with an intersection to Zagreb) would be ready before the end of this year.
The national park has been turned into an attraction with boatrides on the lakes and we should pay 90 Kuna, or € 11 per person. We just want to walk up to the falls and make a picture, so we refuse to pay that price. We have seen a lot of waterfalls already. From a distance the lakes look very beautiful with its blue-green water.
On our way back we drive through Gospic and in this whole area we see the devastating traces of the war: villages which are totally bombed and destroyed and now left abandoned; new houses are being build next to the empty and often roofless old homes. There are not many buildings without traces of heavy gunfire where bullets and grenades left their gaps in the walls. The traces look so fresh that it is hard to imagine it is already 8 years ago that the war ended.
Local people say they have the feeling the reconstructing of the country has only begun last year and it will take some time before it is complete. But how long will it take before the psychological and emotional damage has been repaired and all the feelings of hate have gone? One generation, two? Sometimes it is said that war is good for the economy, but we don't see any benefits. What a waste of human lives and also of the environment and lots of money. And for what reason???
On this side of the mountains the sky is totally clear and tomorrow we will have another quiet day at the beach.
Saturday 05 July 2003, sun, sea, beach and nothing else at ZatonHow can we start to describe all the dyes of blue in the sky? From the light blue at the horizon to the deep, almost blacklike, blue straight above our heads when we lie on our backs on the beach. How to describe those warm and fierce beams of the sun that seem to tattoo our skin like sharp needles. And the screaming and noise of the children and other bathers which merge together into a soft rustle in the background when we lazily close our eyes and let the world pass by...
Just one picture today, since most of these these things can't be captured on photo, at least we can't. For us it is a perfect resting day. We are very tired of doing nothing all day in the sun... But at night we still have energy enough to visit the playground.And now it is time to visit our favourite bar. Cheers!
Sunday 06 July 2003, south of Zadar, a region with many abandonned villages
It may become a bit tedious, but we start the day again with sunbathing and swimming, after having breakfast. We must be able to prove that we really have had a holiday, mustn't we?
In the afternoon we are totally done with the sea and the beach and step into the terribly hot car. First we drive to the village Pirovac and we notice how people all seem to think here that tourism is the only easy way to make money. Everybody is setting up a bed & breakfast or a pub. They may be right.
From Pirovac we drive away from the coast towards the mountains and there we meet twice with a flock of sheep and their sheperds. There are not many signs of agriculture and most vegetation looks very young, so we get the impression that a lot has been burned down during the war.
Again, we pass through dozens of devastated and abandoned villages. The names of the villages are still there but not on our map. It is a very sad and depressing sight and we cannot imagine how helpless these people must have felt.Sometimes we see a village where people had the courage to start again in the same village: new houses build next to the destroyed ones, a new church and new roads. In the larger towns we don't see many signs left of the war, probably because there was more money to start sooner rebuilding the houses.
When we are back on the campsite we see that Joško's bar is empty, so we go straight to him and he has some time to sit and talk with us. He tells us something about his war experiences. For three years he has been hiding from the war, fortunately too young to serve in the military, but no ordinary youth it was. No school since he was 14 and all the time being witness of the heavy bombardments on Zadar. He is lucky he hasn't got any trauma's like many of his age who are addicted to drugs or alcohol.Tomorrow we meet him in Zadar, outside his work. For him and us that is more fun than sitting in the bar where he has more things to do. It is nice to have a new friend in Croatia!