High temperatures and sunshiny days make the hearts of classic car owners beat faster. There’s no doubt – it’s a severe case of spring fever. To find the perfect remedy we at Pagoda Classics decided to hit the road heading towards eastern Croatia, to beautiful Slavonija and Baranja regions.
Chasing for spring in Slavonija
The first stop of Pagoda Classics Road Trip was a charming small town Stražeman situated on the slopes of the Papuk mountain.
Following the winding road, we drove uphill to the Church of St. Michael the Archangel. Surrounded by vineyards, the church dating from 13th century overlooks the Požega region and the church garden provides a breathtaking view of the landscape.
The parish priest offered us a warm welcome with rakija – homemade brandy and delicious homemade breakfast, then gave us the tour of the church famous for its baroque frescoes from the 18th century.
Although eager to explore the roads of Slavonija, we took the time to savor the moment and enjoy the serenity of nature.
Can you imagine spring caught in a glass? Crystal clear, gentle salmon pink color, mild yet seductive fruity scent turns into the subtle taste of freshly picked strawberries with every sip – that’s the taste of spring, and we have found it in the glass of 2017 Rosé wine by Galić wines.
Enchanted by this wine we had to stop in the picturesque town of Kutjevo to see the new Galić winery.
The timeless beauty of the Mercedes-Benz classics 280 SLC, 560 SL, 300 SL and 500 SLC lined up in front of this striking industrial style building made of concrete and old bricks is a sight to remember – the past and the present in harmony.
At the foot of the Papuk mountain lies town of Orahovica with one of its most famous natural sights, Orahovica Lake, an artificial lake filled with clear spring water from streams flowing down the mountain.
Driving under a relentless spring sun forced us to seek salvation on the shore of the lake that lured us to immerse in cold, still water. The soft breeze and a glass of Rosé provided us enough refreshment to resist the lake’s calling and only dip our feet into the water.
With a sunset just a couple of hours away, it was time to get on the road again.
Into the arms of the Mother Of Wine
Surrounded by Hungarian border and two mighty rivers the Danube and the Drava lies Baranja, the cradle of vine cultivation and wine production. Centuries ago, the Romans planted first vineyards on this fertile land. And for its wines and vineyards, Baranja got the name meaning “mother of wine” in Hungarian.
And just like a gentle mother, it embraced us, travelers fatigued by the long journey across vast plains.
We ended the first day of Pagoda Classics Road Trip in ethno village Karanac, in the heart of Baranja, where we rested our bodies and minds at one of many traditional households.
Next morning we headed to a nearby village Kamenac. Eight kilometers long, snake-like wine road slopes down the Banovo Brdo, the highest hill in Baranja. We followed the road through millions of vine stocks of Belje vineyards grown by the largest Croatian grape producer Belje wines.
Mesmerized by the magnificent view of endless vineyards we have lost the sense of time passing by and soaked up the sun that has been caressing the grapevine on this slopes for hundreds of years.
The city standing proud
Where the river Vuka meets the Danube, lies Vukovar, a city marked by war devastation. But Vukovar is much more than just that.
The moment you come to this brave city, you get overwhelmed with peace and serenity.
As if you have entered some other dimension, where time is running slow, nevertheless the city lives.
After strolling through the baroque center of Old Vukovar, we headed to the bank of the Danube, the great river connecting cultures and nations since ancient times.
Taken by the power of the river, at the place where thousand years old winds are blowing, we stayed until the sunlight has disappeared behind the city skyline.
Before leaving Vukovar, we have stopped by Vukovar Water Tower, one of the most recognizable landmarks of the city. During the war, the 50 meters high tower has suffered severe damage.
Today it stands as a symbol of suffering and resistance of the city.
With a sense of pride and respect, following the Danube river, we set off to the easternmost town in Croatia.
Where the Danube kisses the sky
The title of the famous Croatian love song “Where the Danube kisses the sky” can be best understood once you arrive in Ilok. The city of long and rich history rises above the Danube, surrounded by the wine-growing slopes of the Fruška Gora.
The third day of Pagoda Classics Road Trip we drove off to the Medieval town of Ilok. Among the fortress walls stand the Friary and the Church of St. John of Capistrano, Franciscan friar and a famous preacher. He was buried in Ilok, as it has been his wish, what makes the citizens of Ilok very proud.
Back in the 17th century, the Odescalchi family – The Dukes of Ilok have renewed the medieval castle and built, at the time, modern wine cellar across the old one dating from 15th century.
Nowadays, the cellar beneath the Odescalchi castle belongs to Ilok Cellars, the biggest wine producer in Croatia.
And even today, 12 meters underground, the best wines made from local varieties are kept in same ideal conditions as centuries ago.
Ilok Cellars wines made from Traminer and Graševina variety are the most award-winning wines in Croatia. Only Croatian wine on the official royal wine list, Ilok Cellars Traminer, was served to Royal Family at the crowning of Queen Elizabeth II back in 1953.
In front of the centuries-old cellar, in the capital of the Danube wine kingdom, we ended our journey with style with a glass of Ilok Cellar Traminer. It’s true you don’t have to be royal to feel like royalty.
Full of impressions we have headed home, towards Zagreb. The days behind us, abundant with great atmosphere, beautiful nature, stunning views of the landscape, endless vineyards, tasting the best wines, and enjoying traditional local dishes, have proved owning a classic car isn’t just about enjoying the ride – it’s the complete package, a lifestyle you share with friends.
If you feel like a bird of a feather, like our road trip as much as we did and you want to be a part of the next one, contact us. We would love to hear your thoughts.
Looking forward to exploring Croatia at the next Pagoda Classics Road Trip!
Author: Josipa Beštak