28 July 2009

Croatia update

It's shocking how long it's been since I came back from Serbia and Croatia. (In fact, I've since squeezed in a trip to the south of France, to be followed up in another blog.) I had such an eventful time, and there's far much to write about here. And now that I have to come up with the first chapters of my book, it's quite hard to find the time to blog about it. But I'll give it a go.

One thing that astonished me was the beauty of the region of Lika . It is full of lush green mountains, deep gorges, winding rivers. I fell in love with the river Una, which marks the border with Bosnia for much of its meanderings. My uncle took me and my mother to the source of the river, which involved a bit of a hike along a dodgy uphill path – after we'd had a couple of beers. My 74-year-old uncle bounded along the path like the old goat that he is, with me trying to keep up. My mother had major problems, even though she's the same age as my uncle. You really notice how hardy people are when they haven't got the soft life of western Europeans or, in my mother's case, soft transplanted Canadians.

I couldn't help but notice how gorgeous the scenery was, and how it was prime land for walkers. If it had been in Tuscany, it would have been crawling with hikers. As it is, the infrastructure has been so pummelled by war that it will take some time before more than a handful of tourists pitch up for some walks through the woods and along empty farm tracks. I did find a sole B&B owner in Donji Lapac who does a roaring trade with her four rooms at €10 a night. Her comfortable house is popular with Italian hunters (no surprise there – they're everywhere), Danish walkers and Spanish cyclists. If you want peace and quiet – plus some exquisite food – it's hard to find a cheaper place to chill out for a few days.

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