First off, basically reached the halfway mark!! I cannot even believe that!! AHH! It's crazy how time flies when you're walking across a couple of countries ;) But my oh my, Croatia!! It has truly taken my heart. Today was a really amazing walk, with the first half through country roads and many, many flat fields, straight through two towns, and finally some rolling hills that showcased this country's beauty, a total of a little over 26 km (16 miles)!
What is really amazing though is how friendly Croatians are (as seen by Vanya and others yesterday)--walking along the busy street in Vidovec where houses are right on either side of the road, almost everyone stops to say give a wave if you say hi. I had a really nice conversation with a woman and her parents-in-law, where she told me that this area is very agricultural and many people grow their own wine and flowers (a huge hobby to many!). Not only did they stop to talk with me, they also filled up my water bottle & gave me a nice selfie memory of them! (I was lucky that the lady spoke English--beforehand, I had two conversations in which the person spoke Croatian and I spoke English, so it was a lot of arm gesturing and many thumbs up!)
In the middle of the day (around 12:45 PM) I passed a good number of teenagers that seemed like they were walking home from school. I said hi to all of them but didn't stop to talk so I couldn't figure out what was happening. BUT along the way I met Marion and figured it out! Marion is a principal for a high school (15-18 year olds) who are studying medicine, and he told me that the students were going to Varazdin for their practikum in the hospital! It was quite cool because we had our conversation in mostly German--he told me that he had learned German in school and he estimates 50% of Croatians speak German and 50% speak English (although not mutually exclusive), so hopefully I will find myself quite able to converse with locals especially as we continue our time in Croatia! A thought that I had while talking to him was that he was off to go to the school, yet still stopped to have a nice conversation with me, not seeming in much of a hurry but I am sure he had stuff to do--thank you for slowing down and talking with me :)
The second part of today was seeing beautiful Croatian scenery--there were some gentle hills that allowed us to see the vast farmland contrasted with the mountains in the back. We went through a little forest and finally on a road that was 2 km away towards Klenovik. The accommodation was absolutely beautiful, and the bathrooms were actually just recently installed specifically for the Peacewalkers (which are amazing!). Tatjana and her husband Ljubomir were SO extremely hospitable (and she is expecting a baby boy in under a month), and dinner was delicious. They brought us out their own wine to have during supper as well as a Hungarian dessert to top it off, and so afterwards, Fly and I walked to Klenovic to explore the area and see the castle-turned-hospital. The castle is the largest in Croatia and dates back to the 13th century, although now, it is a hospital owned by Zagreb to treat patients with TB and lung infection. It was a little run down on the outside and not as grand as I expected it to be, but we caught a glimpse of the inside that looked quite modern. The sunset coming back home was absolutely gorgeous and made me think just how wonderful it would be to see this breathtaking view everyday--I don't think I could get tired of it.
Tomorrow is quite a long day to Krapina, but we are planning on starting out super early around 7 AM, and after that, we have our extra day that we will take a trip to Zagreb! Donal will meet us in Krapina tomorrow which is super exciting, and I'm ready to see more of Croatia--here we come!!
P.S. Listened to an AWESOME podcast on my walk today by Randy Pausch about time management, and I really thought about asking myself why I am doing certain things and what would happen if I didn't. Now that I have time on my side through walking for hours, I'm taking advantage of it to reflect and enjoy myself, the scenery, the exercise, and the people. "Maximizing time is not the end goal, but it is a means to an end. The end is maximizing fun."