Again we challenged the border police lately. This time with crossing the border with a car full of 8 women. 3 of them were having the same name: Maria Hendrika. (Marleen, Maaike en Marijke) Early June we had a special family time. I asked Maaike, (my sisters daughter) to write about it and this is where she came up with:
Osijek from a different perspective
In the Netherlands, we are wearing our coats when our family drops us off at the station. Two days later—after an exciting train journey through Europe—we get off the train, melting, entering a sunny Osijek. A warm welcome awaits us. How lovely to see our family members after so long!
The group we travel with consists of Rieneke and Marleen (sisters of Janneke) and Maaike and Arine—the young-adult daughters of Marleen—who have just finished their A-level exams.
During the train journey, we stare at the beautiful European landscapes. As we approach the south, it gets warmer and warmer—but also poorer. The train in Croatia cannot be compared with the German ICE: rattling doors, open windows (hanging out of the window is our favorite activity), and defective air conditioning.
The train journey is only a foretaste of the discovery of the dramatic difference between Western and Southern Europe. When we arrive, the Huisman family shows us their living environment with great enthusiasm. Through their eyes, we see so much more than the average tourist would see. They take us to the old inner city and show us the cathedral of Osijek. Everything—the streets, the buildings—has an appearance of faded glory. They show us their own church (the Reformed Episcopal Church), the church cat included, who has just given birth to 8 tiny kittens. We join them at the Roma church in a village outside Osijek, where we meet a lot of lovely people. The congregation listens to a Dutch song that we sing for them: Jesus full of love, you will guide us. The sermon, in Croatian, is translated by Nina, a friend of the family. After the service, we drive a Roma woman to her home. We get a glimpse into her very simple house.
This way, we gain many informative and enriching experiences. But, the stay in Osijek is not only informative but also just very social and cozy. Almost every day, we (the cousins) take a dive in the Drava, the river that flows through Osijek. In the evening, we have lengthy conversations. We eat ice cream and burek (a savory Croatian pastry) in the city. A visit to Hungary is also included in our trip, and we will not let us stop by problems at the border. In the Hungarian swimming pool, we feel like Alice in Wonderland. It was a lovely warm water well, and a great pool, with a view over the fields and a sauna. A very relaxing experience.
But, all good things come to an end, and so does our trip to Croatia. On Friday, our family waves us goodbye. We have an adventurous night in the train, watching lightning in the mountains from our beds and being wakened at 4 A.M. with the phrase: ‘Polizei! Aufmachen!’ On Saturday, our family is awaiting us when the train enters the station.
Our stay in Croatia has left us a lot: heads full of memories, loads of pictures, and hearts full of happy memories.
Goodbye! We love you all! Safe travels and:
Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palms of His hand!