Bumbling through Bosnia & Herzegovina
We arrived into Bosnia and Herzegovina towards the end of October through the Strimica border, and what a welcome! The lady at border control was super nice and gave us some hints and tips of places to stay in her local town. When we drove away though we realised she hadn’t stamped our passports which we needed to have for proof of our whereabouts through Schengen and non Schengen so we drove back, and she thought we were stamp collectors until we explained!
Our first stop we checked out a cave that was about 4 km long, but we didn't get very far as our torches weren't that great and we got chased out by some bats!
|The view looking up from the cave|
|Our first stop near the town of|
Once we had collected our SIM card the next morning for a very cheap €2 for one week and lots of data, and paid our tourist tax we went on our way!
We fell in love with Bosnia and Herzegovina immediately, we felt the landscape where we were was like a much bigger Switzerland. Stunning mountains and valleys! However the road situation was interesting.. we were making our way south-east and ended up driving through a huge forest, when suddenly the lovely albeit bumpy tarmac road just ended, and we were off-roading for a good hour following this “road” on sat nav! Anyway we learnt then to not always trust what maps say is a “main road”!
We enjoyed the pretty town of Jajce with its cobble streets and waterfalls.
|View over Sarajevo|
Wow! We did a free walking tour and the guy showing us around was amazing. There’s a lot of history in Sarajevo, but the most striking is the war in the 90s, in which Sarajevo was taken under siege. Throughout the walking tour we visited lots of areas of the city, all with their own haunting story of the war. Our tour guide was a child when the war broke out and he told us lots of personal stories as well, including his mother who would walk to work everyday and would have to cross sniper alley, where she would hide behind a Red Cross truck to get passed. She always wore a full face of make up and high heels, and when asked why she would always dress up so much, she would say “If I die, I want to look my best”. Our tour guide told us that his mother amongst lots of others in Sarajevo at the time had a dark sense of humour.
|A father calling for his son to come out of hiding, |
as the Serbians had promised they would not kill him,
but then they did
|A monument made for all the children who died during the siege, |
the metal plate is made from shrapnel collected from the bombings
We saw the complete contrast between bullet holes and shrapnel damage in lots of buildings and then just next to them brand new shopping centres. It was very surreal and very eye opening to just how recent the war was.
Our tour guide also told us about the food situation during the siege and how the United Nations would send in food for them, however it wasn’t always very palatable! So much so that as a joke (and a thank you) they put up a massive canned beef monument, which was something that would get delivered and was so disgusting that even the stray dogs wouldn’t touch it! The artist who made this monument wanted to put it up in the centre of Sarajevo, but he was told the humour of it was too controversial , so it ended up being outside the centre. Funnily enough though, as fate would have it, a year after the monument went up, the United Nations built their office block right next to it!
We also visited the Tunnel of Hope, which was the only way for people to flee the siege without having to run across the airport runway and getting shot. A part of the old tunnel still remains and we could go inside.
|A part of the original tunnel|
|A warning for mines, and still today when campervanning we had to make sure we never stayed anywhere very unkempt|
During our trip to Sarajevo, we were sure to visit the Turkish quarters with lots of stalls and restaurants, where we got to indulge in a very tasty Cevapi (their version of a kebab, with a mince sausage, raw onion, and home made bread)!
|A cute cocktail bar we went to with the menu on a pack of cards!|
|Our BBQ infront of the |
Pyramid of the Sun
Another part of B&H which is kept quiet, is the Pyramids. We visited the Pyramid of the Sun, which is apparently the biggest and oldest pyramid in the world (yes, older and bigger than the Egyptian one!). These were built with humongous blocks of concrete, hard to imagine how they were lifted up there! Across the way from the pyramid, under another one, was the Labyrinth, which we also got to go inside, with a tour guide. There are many question surrounding the labyrinth, it was built hundreds of years ago, and then it was closed up, and today they are trying to open the routes back up bit by bit. However the tunnels were blocked so tightly, it is yet unknown just how or even why they were closed to begin with. What’s magical about the labyrinth is that it has negative ions, dozens of times higher than average, therefore making the tunnels very healing and rejuvenating. There is also natural water flowing through the labyrinth which they tried to stop just to see whether it was put there by man, but it just returned through many pools and canals that fill each other up. The interesting thing about water is that it has memory, and the water in the labyrinth, is crazy pure. You can put 500 ml of it in 25 litres of “normal” water and it will give that water memory, also making it pure. Insane, I know!
|Some mushrooms growing in the labyrinth!|
We treated ourselves to some crystals from one of the many stands here, the day before we visited the tunnel. And we explained to the shop attendant that we didn’t have enough cash to pay for the tunnel, which is why we were going back the next day, and he offered to lend us €50! He said “I trust you will come back and pay me back, otherwise if not, then the blame is on me for trusting you!”. That’s just one of the signs of kindness of the B&H people!
Famous for its bridge, we enjoyed moseying through the cobbled streets and looking at the shops. We also saw this cute dog sleeping in the middle of the very busy bridge, not budging for anyone!
When we first got to Blagaj we weren’t sure what was there, but after a bit of a wander we came across the viera picturesque cave and waterfalls with the sheer cliffs in the background.
We finished our trip in B&H with a night in Trebinje, enjoying a few beers by the river. We went on the hunt for Bosnian coffee but had no luck, maybe next time!