I will have to be honest and say that I have never heard of Osijek before until a couple of weeks ago. I was in Berlin, hosted by a guy who’s from Osijek. Then I went to Dublin and was hosted by the friend of my Berlin host. He too was from the same city. Both experiences were awesome and I was lucky to have met them. It made my Berlin and Dublin experiences really memorable experiences and I hope to be able to meet up with them someday again in the future.
But even then, when they hosted me and told me about Osijek, I never really thought about visiting Osijek because even though I have already planned to visit the Balkans, I really didn’t have an definite idea of which cities I will visit in the region. I know I will land in Timisoara and have this vague plan of hitch hiking towards Serbia, Croatia and then to Hungary to catch my plane back to Brussels from Budapest.
And then, suddenly, I am here, in Osijek, Croatia – a not-so-small town of just a little over 100, 000 people. Osijek is the largest city in the eastern Croatian region of Slavonija.
I was hosted by two couchsurfers here -Bojan and Nikola. Actually, I was really lucky because I posted a “public request” on couchsurfing which means, instead of sending individual messages, I posted a public request stating that I am going to be travelling in Osijek and people can offer to host me when they see my request and profile. I got about 5 offers from different hosts! It was really cool to get offers like that because lately on couchsurfing, it’s been really challenging to find hosts.
I was first hosted by Bojan first who also offered me to go to Zagreb with him and his friends. I would have loved to go to Zagreb with them but I thought it was too soon to leave Osijek and I only have a few days to spend in Croatia before I have to go to Budapest to catch a flight to Brussels. So I decided to stay in Osijek.
There are people that I meet that I instantly connect with and Bojan was one of those people. Bojan and I ended up spending just a day together before he went to Zagreb but I felt comfortable with him. We joked around, we shared some lentil dinner, some wine, and many stories of life, travel and love while listening to The Doors and Pink Floyd. We didn’t do much but we did so much. It was awesome.
I was also looking forward to meeting my next host, Nikola, who’s into meditation and Buddhism, among many other things. I am getting into this mindfulness thing and in fact, will be going on a month long vipassana retreat in Thailand next month. Staying with Niko opened my conciousness to many topics on spirituality and we talked a lot about meditation. He even invited me to go to a lake near his place and we meditated there.
In fact, Nikola is one of the most open minded, most liberal people I have ever met in my life. We spent many hours – even till early mornings discussing about different topics – from Buddhism to budget travelling to vipassana meditation.
Nikola introduced me to his parents and to his friends who are just as open minded and as liberal as him. Like if I was going to be a parent, I think I will want to be his parents. I also met his close friends Luka and Filipe – really awesome and funny guys. We spent some time having beer near the river and talked and talked until it was late at night.
On Saturday, we had a little backyard party with some of their close family friends. We ate a lot! They had prepared a lot of local Croatian food. Of course all of them, I can’t really pronounce (sorry!). But I had some sort of spicy beef stew cooked in a fire pit.
I really had an awesome, memorable time in Osijek. The people were so nice and welcoming! I would like to come back again in the future, hopefully meet everyone again and also, this time to explore more of Croatia. I want to go visit the part near the Adriatic coast. I hear it’s really beautiful there.
One day, again.