Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Early breakfast this morning – we were leaving 8:15 am to start our whole day outing.
We drove in two vans – our first stop was the Nature Park Kopackic Rit. The park is a protected wetland area. We did a boardwalk through part of the wetlands where we admired swans on their nests, turtles and frogs. We heard the birds sing, didn’t really see them. We would have like to take more time to enjoy the surroundings and watch the animals, but we had to catch a boat. The boat ride through another area of the wetlands was 45 minutes.
It was very peaceful; the sun was shining and it was reasonably warm. We saw lots of cormorants in the trees and in the water. Unfortunately we didn’t see the white-tailed eagle that is supposed to nest there. There are also storks nesting – alas, we didn’t see them either. It was a nice change of pace from being in the city!
From there we drove through the country to see the house where President (dictator) Tito spent time hunting with his guests. He also had lots of secret meetings with other world leaders. The house was still used for top secret meetings between world leaders after Tito had died in 1980. Matay told us the during the recent war between Croatia and Serbia, the leaders of both countries did meet there.
The place was surrounded by fences so we had to “sneak” around the fence to have a look at the back of the house while Matay told us a lot about Tito’s time in power, his foreign policies, his smart approach to leadership, and his cruelty. Matay asked one of the men that were working around the place and was told that the house is going to be a museum.
Then it was on to a winery – one of the largest and oldest in the country. To get into the place we had to make our way through a construction site which took some big steps up and then some jumping down. The workmen were very helpful to the women!
We had a tour through the wine cellars – some of them were 6 meters underground. The temperature in the cellars is kept between 15 and 18 degrees Celsius – it was rather cool down there. They produce mostly white wine which is 70% of their production and 30% is red wine. The winery is a family owned business – not a big corporation. They have other businesses as well, such as a dairy farm and cheese making.
Of course we did some wine tasting; a sauvignon blanc type of wine and a chardonnay. It tasted fine even though it was before lunch!
Then it was on to the Batina viewpoint. This is a memorial of the battle between the Germans and the Russians in November 1944. Croatia was aligned with the Germans who had promised them independence (away from the Yugoslavia union). The battle lasted 18 days with heavy losses especially on the Russian side. The Russians did win the battle and the Germans were driven back from Croatia.
The monument is simple and yet very powerful. The view is beautiful – looking out over the Danube where three countries meet: Croatia, Serbia and Hungary. Matay told us that in the past buses full of visitors would come to this place; but since the latest war in 1991, not anymore.
The sun was shining and the sky was a very clear blue with white fluffy clouds; it was a beautiful opportunity to take photos – the sky alone was worth it! We had our group photo taken there!
On to the next event, which was a short visit to an ethno village. It had one street going uphill which had quite small houses on either side. These houses had been wine cellars in earlier times and then were left abandoned. In the last ten years people have started to buy these houses and renovate them to live in. The price of them is going up as more people want them. There was still one that was quite in disrepair. We took some photos of the wells that were there and the character. The view over the village and church was beautiful.
By that time it was well after 1pm and we really felt our stomachs complaining about lunch time. We drove to Karanac where we had reservations for lunch. The restaurant was called Baranya Kuca and was an interesting country style group of wooden buildings and one main “house” where we had lunch under a solid roof even though one side was open to the elements. The plan was that we were going to eat on the wooden patio with wooden tables and chairs, but the rain was threatening by that time and we decided to go “inside”. It proved to be a wise decision!
We were treated to a brown bean goulash cooked in a large clay pot that was put in the middle of the table. The goulash was filled with pork meat, pork hocks, bacon and sausages. It was served with bread and a green salad. Again the “stew” was cooked for several hours, the spices were great and the meat was very tender. It tasted delicious! We have no complaints about the meals even though Eke especially misses the vegetables! Dessert was warm dumplings filled with plum jam. Then we added more plum jam on top and there was also sour cream to add to it. All in all, it was a great meal!
After lunch we were treated to a shot of cherry or plum liqueur which was sweet and very syrupy.
Then we had a small tour through the back yard where they had created the “street of lost jobs”. Small wooden “houses” were used as display “cases” for different trades from the past that are not practiced any longer such as making wooden shoes, the blacksmith, the ice cellar etc. They had collected lots of tools and articles depicting these trades – it was very well done. It was a journey into the past. We enjoyed it very much.
That was the last place for us to visit and we headed back to our guesthouse. Everybody in our van had a little snooze on the way back. Not surprising after a big lunch, the wine and liqueur and a busy day!
We decided that we had enough food for the rest of the day and did not go out for dinner. Eke went for a walk and picked up some strawberries and a strudel filled with cheese. The rest of the time was spent on updating our trip journal!