It might be a good time to get away from Croatia for a little bit: today a former general whom Croatians consider to be a war hero was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to 24 years in prison. It's hard to escape occasional reminders of the war here. The beautiful library where I lectured in Osijek sports what I'm pretty sure are bullet holes:
Osijek is only about 20 miles or so from the Serbian border and was badly damaged in the war. Zadar was also hard hit. The library was destroyed by shells. The new library, where I lectured today, was built in what used to be army barracks. I find that very appropriate. And the new library is very nice. But I've also seen minefields that are still marked with warning signs and I've seen a few buildings that were destroyed and never rebuilt. And today someone told me what it felt like to be taking shelter in the US embassy basement as rockets were attacking.
But I've also seen some wonderful things. Like this neat old building in Osijek (built in 1802):
Buildings like this are not in the best of shape, not because of the war but because of communism. During the communist years, private ownership was taken away and nobody had the incentive or money to keep buildings in good repair. After communism, it took years and years to sort out who owned what (it's still being done, in fact). And then Croatia's not a rich country, so funds for repairs can be hard to find.
But here's the river, viewed here from a hotel cafe (it was cold on Wednesday):
I don't know who painted the swastika and iron cross, but they were painted over by someone who sympathizes with Crvena Akcija, a radical far-left group.
The drive to Zadar today passed through beautiful scenery, such as this cool little hill, with snowy mountains in back of it:
Along the way I saw deer and we went through several long tunnels. The road to Zadar is an excellent one. They've built a bunch of bridges over the highway so wildlife can cross without getting hit.
And Zadar is a beautiful city. There's a marble sea organ you can walk on. We saw a school of fish there--sardines, I suspect:
In addition to deer and sardines and the Adriatic, I saw a single motorcycle rider today wearing a jacket that read "Hell's Angels Croatia." I wish I'd had my camera available. I've had some really lovely chats with the folks in Osijek and Zadar. And after today's lecture (which was sparcely attended because they were announcing the verdict in the war crimes case at about the same time), a lady in the audience gave me a packet of wild asparagus as a gift.