(continued from Where the Cold Water Flows…)

…The day was pretty hot and humid for this kind of hard walking adventure. Over our hero a glowing sun, under him a burning country road, in front of him a lovely image of herd of horses and sheep eating grass in its quietness and peace in the small village of Novaki Petrovinski.

“Sheep? That is very strange. How come there are sheep here in this continental parts? Don´t they live only in the coastal areas of our country? Isn’t it a little bit too hot for them to eat grass and live here, on this extremely hot weather conditions, without the single breeze of fresh air?”

Leaving the herd of continental sheep, he continued to walk on this hot sunny day, and a little bit later he came to the little crossroad, where he couldn’t pass by a lovely mini park with the small chapel in its middle part. Stylishly decorated, a true magic in its miniature form. And it was standing there by itself by the entrance to the village of Čeglje. One of the many villages in the community of Jastrebarsko.

Half an hour later he had to stop once more. This time not to enjoy the lovely sites and pretty landscapes, but to figure out which way to go, continue to walk along this noisy state road that connects cities of Zagreb and Karlovac, two centres of the great Croatian counties, or turn right and continue to walk along the little country road. He needed an advice of the locals. In the vicinity of that crossroad there was a small local grocery shop, so he went to the shop and asked the saleslady for the right direction. She said, if he wants to continue walking to the town of Ozalj, he has to turn right, to the road that goes to the little town of Krašić.

He hoped she was right, so he followed her advice and went in the direction of the north.

The country road was very twisted and steep, but the feeling was great. A view at the sunny hills of Žumberak, green forests and the fresh air without the sound of irritating cars that constantly buzz around you, like the infinite swarm of irritating flies. But that didn’t came without a cost. Walking on the road on that hot summer day felt like a hiking on the biggest mountains.

A little bit further and our hero was getting very close to the entrance to the town of Krašić and its surroundings, better known by the name of the Valley of the Cardinals. Just a byte of some delicious cherries he could find in the small village of Brlenić, and he was already there.

Alojzije Stepinac.

Franjo Kuharić.

The cardinals.

These two are the most famous Croatian cardinals born and raised in this little county of Krašić.

Finally, after a couple of hours of hard walking, our hero entered the town of Krašić, that beautiful little mountain town. He decided it´s finally time to rest for a while. So he found himself a little wooden bench in front of the old chapel dedicated to the most famous Croatian cardinal of Alojzije Stepinac. To be precise, it was not really a bench, just a piece of old trunk, made for sitting and rest.

Resting for a while he admired the view, especially on the old town at the top of the hill and the little villages in the far distance, surrounded by forests, plains and golden wheat fields.

Once again he had to get up and continue his long and hard journey.

The small country road slowly rise upwards when our hero was walking through the rural settlements in the west part of the town of Krašić, hiking on the hot summer day on his way to Ozalj, a town that was once owned by the great count family of Zrinjski. The air was getting heavier by every step, when he walked through the hills of this Žumberak-Pokupje region, on the Ozalj-Vivodina wine road, the day he will remember as the first one on this big adventure that was so hot and heavy that made him think about was it good and wise to start this journey after all.

Strolling through the forest, he saw a a nice looking well, named Klesta, with the wooden bench, a stone base, brightly coloured, mostly containing mosaics made from granite stone, and the handmade mini chapel with the statue of Virgin Mary, right in the middle of that beautiful forest well. With the view on the nearby grasslands, just above the big forest.

What a beautiful sight that was!

And a spider!

Big and black.

He had nothing against this long-legged creatures, but still he had to admit that he was suffering from the Arachnophobia.

Even do that pretty small well was just a perfect site for a new break, he was forced to move along and find a better place to rest.

Walking through that dense forest, he still had a need to collect bottles and cans that he thought he could sell in the Ozalj´s local stores, when he get there. It really didn’t look good to see all of that thrash thrown all over the forest. Soon enough, he realised that there was not enough space in his little rucksack for all that he collected by the road. So he left most of it by the entrance to one local courtyard in the small mountainous village on his 22 km long day trip.

But we should get back to the story of our brave and strange wanderer.

At least to its bright side.

No more talking about collecting bottles and cans!

The wine road in front of him, by the road a pretty wooden houses, behind him the whole swarm of colourful butterflies in their chaotic flight. There were so many different species, in so many colours, that he decided to call all of this region the Valley of the Butterflies.

The new climb awaited our adventurer.

And the new problems with the big heat.

Due to the fact that he was walking for miles without any sun protection, anti sunburn cream or the summer cap, he felt that today he has suffered sever sun burns, especially on his face and his hands. Luckily, he didn’t felt any problems.

At least not at those moments!

While he thought about it, he slowly and unconsciously walked through some little villages of Ozalj county like Podbrežje or Zajačko selo, entered the main and pretty curved street of the town of Ozalj, named by the great Croatian genius and physicist Nikola Tesla, and stepped in the centre of this old town on the cliff of the river of Kupa.

Seeing that mighty and fast river left him breathless.

Fast and cold iced.

But refreshing!

At least that was what he thought.

And he was right.

He wanted so desperately to climb down its steep coast, to take off his dirty and sweaty clothes, get in the water and finally take a bath and refresh from the hot summer day, and all the miles he walked on that harsh day. But he didn’t knew which way to go to get to the river coast.

After ten minutes of searching, he finally found the right way, a small passage by the local hydro power plant, got down to the stone river bank and tried his luck in the ice cold water.

Entering this cold water, he felt unpleasant feeling in his legs, but he still managed to convince himself to take a short bath, and to quickly get out of water.

Twenty minutes later, he was laying down on the shore, sunbathing in the shadow of the trees. Next to him, washed clothes were laying down on the grass and slowly drying.

While resting, he observed the magnificent building of Munjara, an old hydro power plant, one of the oldest built in Croatia. At first, it was used to supply electricity to the public lighting of the city of Karlovac. It was launched on the August 18th 1908., and its preliminary founder was a famous Croatian physicist Nikola Tesla. Except of its functionality as an industrial building, it also has a big cultural importance. It´s a beautiful building constructed in the neo-renaissance style, and as that represents a protected cultural monument.

When our hero finally made a big and deserved rest, he thought it would be a good idea to go to the town´s centre and visit the local tourist office. But, due to the fact that it was Sunday, the office was closed.

So, instead of spending some time in the town´s centre, he decided that it is better to walk down the river and visit another interesting site in its vicinity. Just one kilometer of walking and he came to the entrance of one small but nice ethno park in the place called Trg.

A little lawn, and on that lawn small houses from some long forgotten time. All the houses were covered with straw on their roofs, were very low and mostly had double front doors.

By the houses, there were a little old chicken coop and a big barn, but the most beautiful house had a big and high porch with long wooden stairs. On the beginning of this courtyard there was a fish house, where a keeper of this park resides, along with other local fishermen.

While getting back to the town´s centre, he met one family that offered him their cherries that they were collecting from their big tree.

Nowhere to go, nothing to do in this small old town on the quiet and peaceful Sunday. So he strolled the city when he finally came to the most important sites of the old town, a big castle that was once owned by the famous Croatian noble families of Zrinjski and Frankopan, a castle built on the high steep cliff, 18 meters above the Kupa river. This castle was once an important place and it served as the Croatian capital in the 17th century, when most of then Croatia was under the occupation of the Turks. In those days this castle, along with all this county, was a important site for literature and culture development.

The town of Ozalj is small, but nice place to visit and live, where many important people lived long ago. Except of the mentioned families of Zrinjski and Frankopan, in this town once had lived Ivan Belostenec, famous Croatian linguist and lexicographer; Croatian Duke Nikola Tomašić and Slava Raškaj, the famous deaf painter.

It was pretty late when he came to visit that nice castle, so he didn’t get a chance to see everything, along with the fact that the castle had big restorations during his visit.

So he went further and down the street to see a famous sacral building, a church of Saint Vid. But to see the church from the close up view, he had to climb the long stone stairs, just to get to the small round courtyard called Ciklotor.

The church itself was closed, which was bad, ’cause he wanted to ask the local vicar for some food. Instead of that, he visited the graves of the aforementioned Nikola Tomašić and Slava Raškaj, and then slowly climbed down the stairs.

As the night was approaching, he felt a little bit hungry, but all he had in his rucksack was a big apple and that milk that he was carrying from the town of Jastrebarsko. Unfortunately, the milk was spoiled due to the fact that it was such a hot day, and the milk just couldn’t stay fresh for so long.

So, he figured out it´s better to go to sleep. He will find some food tomorrow, on his trip to the town of Karlovac. He went down to the coast of Kupa river, where he was previously bathing, walked a little bit to find the best resting place, put his little sleeping bag on the dry grass and fell asleep.

Unfortunately, as it happens in this situations, all would be well if there were no rain shower that woke him in the middle of the night, and forced him to quickly take all of his stuff, and run wherever he could find a new sleeping place. At first, he thought he will never find a good hiding place with a roof in the middle of the night, and he will never get to sleep again, at least not on that night.

Then, as suddenly, he remembered that old ethno park and that big old house with the porch and a roof. So, he grabbed all of his stuff, ran like hell, jumping over the big puddles of water, and came to the desired site. All the neighbours that were living in the nearby houses were already sleeping, so he slowly sneaked up, climbed that wooden stairs, got under a wooden roof, put his half wet sleeping bag on the hard but dry wooden floor and after all of that late night mess, fell asleep like a little baby.


(Cover Image & Source: Old postcard from Ozalj @ Virtualni Muzej Karlovacke Industrije)