Saturday, July 13, 2013

Going Donji Miholjac for the folk dance festival

From the tourist information booklet of Osijek we found about the folk dance festival. Starting off late after a lazy morning, we took tram and bus to the edge of the city to start hitch-hiking. We waited in the cross-road near a sunflower and plum field for an hour, then we were picked up by a trawler. We were at the back and it was slow but we enjoyed the scenic ride.

The driver was a baker who worked in a nearby food factory. He took us to his house and treated us an early dinner. In this sufficient and simple family we enjoyed their hospitality. They made their own cheese and reared their own chicken. It is this simple village life that we from the city are looking for.

After the dinner he drove us to Donji Miholjac. Thinking that we would just find a grassland among the trees in the central park to camp for that night, we went straight to the stage where the dance show would start. We put the heavy backpack aside and looked for suitable place to camp. Then we made a friend with Stella who helped in the festival. She said that actually the festival started this evening. We hitchhiked the whole day and worried that we missed something, in fact we did not.

We attracted so much attention as the audience for the dance show. Many local people wanted to take pictures with us. As for the dance on stage, it was refreshing to see local costume and local melody with folk dances.The organizer Migel found us and even offered us free beer and food. We felt so thankful for the hospitality. He asked us where we slept that night, we said camping. He even arranged two nights in a hotel free of charge for us !!! Feeling so fortunate, we fully enjoyed the night on the dance show and the later folk music concert in the bar.

 On the same night we went to the culture center and saw the young people having party and beer. They were the dancers. We expected them dancing differently, but we were wrong, they danced folk dance in the party; sang folk song; and there was life music by accordion player.

The next day we visited a 19 century castle and appreciated how the oak was used to build the interior. Initially we were not allowed to go in, but the tourist information officer gave us a free tour into the castle.

 After some lovely ice-cream we went to the city center to see the march of traditional folk dancers from different part of inland Croatia, Macedonia, southern Hungary and Bosnia. After the march was the final show-off of the dancers. We sat before the stage for the whole night to see them dancing on the stage. However they were mostly facing each other, we would enjoy more if the dancers danced on the ground and people went around them to see their performance.

The festival ended with a great party. There was live band playing traditional musics and people on the ground stood up and dance. It was a really local party that people dance folk.

We enjoyed a quiet and local weekend in the small town and thanked so much for their hospitality. We highly recommend this to other visitors for next year.