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Thoughts on Travel, Photography and Life from Ian Lloyd

Croatia

Croatia has become such a big tourism destination lately that it wasn’t until I was talking to a young hotel receptionist near Plitvice Lakes that the impact of the Yugoslav Wars in 1991 hit home. He casually mentioned that as a young boy he remembered his mother handing him out a window to a waiting relative below ahead of invading Serbs looking for Catholics. That was the beginning of 5 years as a refugee for him. It seemed that all Croats on both sides had sad stories from the war. Now, 25 years later, the country was at peace and except for a few bombed out buildings there was little to no evidence that this region had been a major conflict area.

Dubrovnik along the Dalmatian coast was booming. So much so that the streets and walls were packed with visitors. Smaller island towns like Korcula had a more intimate feel with local ‘Plaka’ singers charming us with their a capella harmony practice in the town square one evening. Further north the port of Hvar had become the darling of the European yachting and party crowd with its crystal clear waters and historic town centre.

It was good to see prosperity return to the region though after such recent troubles. I didn’t think much more of the war until I was visiting the hill town of Motovun and looking for an elevated spot to photograph a sunrise from. I had been driving around local farms when I spotted a wooden tower that looked perfect. In my excitement I raced through a field and climbed up to a makeshift wooden platform only to discover it was set up as a sniper's lookout post from the war. At that point I remembered land mines and very very carefully retraced my steps back through the field to my car.

by Ian Lloyd