Auto Camp Matkovica, SrebrenoNovember 17, 2016 in Croatia
Camp Matkovica was a large back garden of a family home. Old birch trees, daffodil and snowdrop leaves pushed up through the patchy grass. The area was busier than others we'd stayed at in Croatia. A huge supermarket formed the basement level of a three storey shopping centre over the road. A portion of the garden had been rented out to a construction company who were using a towering crane and other heavy machinery to build something large on the corner plot next door. There were the normal small shops but also large, puprpose built hotels alongside the familiar, individually produced signs for 'Apartmenti'.
As we introduced Poppy to the owner's 3 month old black spaniel Laya, she explained how she used to have a 16 year old dog whom everyone in the area knew and who used to wander everywhere by himself, until one day he just disappeared. Her friends told her that sometimes when a dog is ready to die they go and find somewhere quiet to be alone, but she didn't believe this was the case with her little dog. She believed someone from outside, who didn't know him and didn't know the Croatian culture of letting dogs have similar freedoms to cats, had taken him. She said there had been many changes here in the last 16 years and it was evident to us that a lot of new tourist orientated developments had grown up quickly around the old community.
One thing we were looking forward to when travelling, was gaining insight into different perspectives. As the owner interacted with Poppy we got the impression she thought Poppy wasn't happy 'locked away' inside the van and that she should be roaming free by herself.
Evening came and we saw the streets were lined with hundreds of candles burning inside red glass vases with silver metal tops stretched out in single file. We later found out that this was a yearly sight in towns all over Croatia to remember those killed in the siege of Vukovar, a town that fell to Serbian fighters 25 yests ago. When we saw the candles Will wanted to find out if they were real and being Will, came away with two quite badly burned fingers to prove they were!
They say bad luck comes in threes, well on our way out on a day trip to Cavtat the next morning, trying to avoid grounding the towbar on the steep concrete ramp, Vicky scraped the underside of the van on some metal construction rods sticking up from the concrete. When we got to the characterful village of Cavtat the road ended in a car park with a barrier. The prices weren't obvious and it was only once we'd sorted the dog and van out and were on our way to explore that we passed the barriers and saw it was nearly £10 an hour! There were 15 minutes free and not wanting to pay what we saw as a rip off rate, we returned immediately and tried to drive out, unfortunately finding we were 3 minutes over the deadline and having to fork out!
Back at Camp Matkovica we took a relaxing walk down to the shingle beach and harbour, following a path past a large abandoned house that looked as if it had bullet holes in its walls. Further round the rocky shore we came across another bay surrounded by abandoned hotel complexes that were crumbling in places. It was a beautiful bay and contrasted vividly against the dereliction on its shores. This too was a reminder of the war of just 25 years ago.
Whilst we've only had little snapshots of Croatian culture, we can see a lot of tourist driven change and get the impression of a country struggling to keep hold of its roots. There are so many old abandoned homes and new, partially completed ones. Unfortunately many houses lay empty this time of year.
We treated ourselves to a drink at a bar terrace above the beach then at a local bar a bit further up the road. The TV was on in the latter and images of war flashed up on screen.Read more