When I was a kid, I remember watching Neil Zurcher’s segment on Cleveland’s WJW-TV called One Tank Trips. I used to love that show–how he’d meander the country roads looking for the undiscovered Ohio. Those were the days when you’d actually consider spending a FULL tank’s gas money on an Ohio travel odyssey, which I’m sad to say I think is something that many people wouldn’t consider doing anymore. Still, it really influenced my appreciation for Ohio and for travel, long before the Anthony Bourdains came around and made traveling hip.
Since coming to Europe, I’ve found that despite the fact that gas is about three times as expensive in the US, people still love to travel, even by car. Day trips, weekends, whatever, people are on the move and looking for that undiscovered thing, whether it be a castle, a quiet beach or a cabbage festival. Györgyi and I travel a lot, and to a lot of big name places. But recently we’ve taken to going to quieter locales that don’t always make the must-see lists.
Yesterday, Sunday, we decided to drive down to Čakovec, Croatia. It was a true one-tank trip and one of the most pleasant days I’ve experienced in a long time.
Čakovec is named after the Hungarian Count, Dimitrius Csáky who built the castle there in the 13th century. The castle was later owned by the Zrinski family and it was the location of the Zrinski-Frankopan conspiracy, which was one in a very long list of attempts to overthrow the Habsburgs. But before Csáky, the area was the Roman town Aquama, marshland and legionnaire camp.
The castle is located inside of Zrinski park.
The weather was perfect just before noon, which was a relief to us since it has been raining and storming for what seems like months now in Budapest. And there weren’t a lot of people in the park or the castle, which gave us plenty of opportunities to take pictures of our little monster.
The city is located just a few steps outside of Zrinski park. On Sunday, there was a little street basketball tournament taking place. Everyone else was strolling around town and enjoying the late morning at one of the many cafes.
I loved the arch and curve of the streets. It offered perfect lines for beams of the high sun, and that quaint Adriatic pose of a resting town.
Čakovec is a small town. In addition to the town’s center, there are a few schools, a library, a cultural center, and one bypass that where the town’s only traffic lights are located. There is one sports stadium, which holds 7,000 or half of the town’s population.
We sat down at one of the cafes before leaving. Our waitress didn’t speak English so we ordered the universal language beverage: Coke. Honestly there’s almost nothing better than a cold, .25l regular Coke on a sunny, Croatian Sunday. And after we finished and our straws were empty, we went back to the car and drove the 3 hours home. Two toll booths, one EU customs and passport check (which we almost failed because we forgot Barnabás’ passport) and the much beloved Marche petrol station where we enjoyed a delicious Hungarian lunch. And we did it all on just one tank.