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On a recent cruise on the Danube River through Eastern Europe, I fell in love with each IMG_0160new place. But of all five countries—Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania—I was most captivated by Croatia. Having survived occupations, brutal wars, cultural genocide, and economic disaster, Croatia, with its beautiful scenery, young population, and neoclassical architecture amidst gutted out buildings, is an upbeat location.

My travel buddy Gloria and I are out walking. It is a peaceful Sunday afternoon in Vukovar, Croatia, a city of 25,000. Ravaged through the1990s by the Balkan Wars, the city conveys an air of survival. It offers a sobering combination: lovely Neoclassical architecture as well as gutted out buildings.

“Why,” asked a fellow travelers, doesn’t the government just raze these wrecked buildings and rebuild? Why let them fall into further decrepitude?”IMG_0149

Our guide intimates that there are two main reasons. Many of the original owners of these sad buildings fled the country and cannot be located. Additionally, there is a nationwide shortage of money. Rebuilding will take a long, long time. In outlying areas beyond the peaceful town of Vukovar, there are still minefields. German Shepherds are sniffing out explosives.

We stroll about, enjoying the open city arcade with its traditional obelisk, a monument surrounded by statues: saints, mythological figures, military heroes. The yellow and white municipal buildings lend an air of order and civility to this formerly war-torn area.

Sunday strolling

Sunday strolling in the heart of Vukovar

Back onboard our longship, theVili, we are treated to a quintet of Croatian musicians, a group that calls itself “Veritas.” Strumming and plucking a variety of stringed instruments,the young musicians serenade us. They are exuberant and clearly talented. One feels that they are living up to their name, “Veritas.” (In Roman mythology, Veritas, meaning truth, was the goddess of truth, a daughter of Saturn and the mother of Virtue.)IMG_0163

The virtue of truthfulness, was considered one of the main virtues any good Roman should possess.  The truth of Croatia, it seems, is that life goes on.

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Join Elaine every other Monday for a new post. She writes about adoption, hiking and life. You’re invited to comment! IMG_0152

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