Our day at the horse ranch began on a positive note, when we were told that our friend Reinhard had picked up part of the tab. His generosity will not go unpunished :)
After lifting camp, we headed for Vukovar proper, where we visited an important landmark: the water tower. This was one of the few monuments that the city authorities decided not to repair, and instead preserve as a memorial of the horrors of the civil war that ravaged the region in the 90s.
We took a little while to talk about this sensitive issue among ourselves. Our group is quite diverse, and while some of us are all too familiar with this dark chapter in History, some others know very little about what happened. We took this chance to learn, reflect and hopefully we'll be able to pass on the message as we go along.
After this visit, the group split in two. Our participants went ahead, the crew stayed behind to catch up with all the pending work. Here's the first group's story:
We left Vukovar, heading to Osijek, and this part of the road was calm enough for us to relax and get to know each other a little better. We're always a bit too tired when we're off the bikes that it takes long until you really get to know the person riding beside you.
When we reached Osijek, we were met by Ivan, from Pannonian, who took us for a city tour on bike. We visited old town, the pedestrian bridge, the Cathedral and all the parks in between. We even took the ferry to see both sides of the Drava. Osijek is a beautiful and hospitable place. We'd like to thank the city of Osijek for arranging free meals and accommodation for us.
One important stop of our city tour was a visit to the Lega-Lega store, which is a unique brand of the city of Osijek, ran by Boris (not the van). Boris runs the website BikeMyDay.com and he organizes various cycling events in and around Osijek.
Ivan still had a treat for us. He took us to see the skate park and the BMX dirt track, where they organize Pannonian Challenge, an extreme sports competition that takes place every year, all put together by these young lads.
By the end of the day, we met Boris again, when he treated us to some ice-cream and talked about all the possibilities of creating cycling events between Serbia and Croatia. No scars of the past will prevent good people from doing good things.
It was a great day, a lot of sightseeing, good food, interesting people. It could have been better, had we known where the rest of the people were...
The crew were left in Vukovar to try and clear some work. As it turns out, it's hard to even think about replying to all the e-mails we get, after we toast under the sun for several hours. Of course a short break in Vukovar was welcome, but we knew we were missing something nice in Osijek. Seems like we have to visit again.
As we made our way to Osijek, we met a French couple, also on bikes, who had been travelling from France to Turkey and back, with a few months on their legs. They were the masters of low-budget travelling, as they didn't spend a single cent on accommodation. We wish we had no schedule to follow, so we could do the same. But time marches on, and so must we.
Our arrival in Osijek was quiet, and we had the opportunity to share the dining room with roughly hundred construction workers in blue overalls. Svetlana was the only woman in the room. Lucky her, getting all the attention...
Then off to meet the group, let them have a much deserved shower, and some more work into the night. Next time, we're hiring secretaries.
As the days go by, as we see new places, meet new people, try new recipes and learn new things, we all grow up a bit, but still manage to keep a young spirit. And home is anywhere, now.