Euro Trip 3 – Croatia – Bosnia and Herzegovina
Our journey through Bosnia and Herzegovina exploring cities, towns and monuments. (Croatia: days 1-3 + 7-9).
Day Three – Sunday 12th June 2016 continued….
We had a slight issue now we were in Bosnia, we had no satnav, the TomTom only had connecting roads for Bosnia, all we had was the trusty offline Maps.me app. Keith navigated.
It was a long and stressful drive. We passed plenty of petrol stations when we first arrived in the country so although the fuel was getting low we didn’t bother stopping straight away.
The next pinpoint was the monument at Grmec, Keith was doing a good job of navigating. We turned off the road down a dirt track with hardly any fuel, we hadn’t passed a petrol station for miles. We couldn’t afford to be in the wrong place we were that low on fuel, the monument had to be near.
Unfortunately it was nowhere to be seen, the pin on the map was nowhere near the road, we had to abandon it and search for a petrol station.
Keith had to switch on data and found one 11km away. The fuel warning had just come on – 20km left in the tank. We prayed the petrol station would be open as it was Sunday evening now!!
Luckily we found one slightly closer than the one Keith had found and filled up. I attempted to pay but they didn’t take card! We hadn’t been to a cash point yet so all we had was Croatian Kuna.
The man didn’t speak English so I showed him the contents of my wallet.
After a filling up someone else’s car he made a phone call and then said he’d take 300 Kuna for the fuel. We were lucky.
We could relax a bit now so headed for the next monument, wondering how on earth we would make it back to the Grmec monument as it was now too late to go back and was the opposite direction to everything else on the itinerary.
The Šušnjar Memorial is dedicated to the victims of the Ustasha massacre of 5,500 Serbs and 50 Jews that took place on 2 August 1941 during World War 2. It is located in Sanski Most at the scene of the crime.
Feeling pretty tired and stressed we headed towards Prijedor where we eventually found our hotel. The room was ok but definitely nothing special and the Wi-Fi was terrible.
There was a restaurant below the hotel building, the man didn’t speak English, Keith made gestures of eating with knife and fork towards his mouth but the man said no. We didn’t really understand so moved on.
There didn’t seem to be many restaurants but we found a steak house. Luckily for me they had lots of other things on the menu and a menu in English.
I opted for grilled vegetables and fried potatoes from the Mexican section of the menu. What I got served couldn’t have been further from what I was expecting. It was roast potatoes and vegetables with a soupy gravy over them. It was alright though. Not sure it was very Mexican but who am I to judge when I’ve never been there!
Rather than spend any more time in the restaurant we opted for an ice cream from a street kiosk for dessert. The town seemed quite nice, there were lots of people walking round which seemed weird for a Sunday night.
I downloaded Navmii, the free sat nav app on my phone along with the Bosnia and Herzegovina map with the hope it would make our journey a little easier.
Day Four – Monday 13th June 2016
I had a pretty bad night’s sleep but was eager to crack on with the journey. It was raining.
Last night we worked out that if we left early enough we would have time to fit the Grmec monument we missed into this already busy day.
We were an hour ahead of schedule.
The drive to Kozara national park was made a lot easier using the sat nav app. We had to engineer a bracket for the phone which worked well but every so often the phone would slide out.
There was a small hut at the side of road, a man stepped towards the car, you have to pay to continue into the national park. The roads were incredibly windy and it was making Keith a bit nauseous.
We could just about see the monument through the cloud/ fog.
Monument to the Revolution, Kozara
At Kozara in 1942 during World War 2 there was fierce battle where 45,000 enemy soldiers fought against 3,500 partisans (Europe’s most effective anti-Axis resistance movement). According to wikipedia 2.500 Yugoslav partisan fighters and 68.500 of civilians were killed or deported to Ustaše concentration camps. The battles at Kozara lasted for all four years, but the region was never conquered by the enemy.
The memorial complex is dedicated to the deceased soldiers.
We spent a short time checking out the monument and getting some photos before heading to the next destination.
The weather was getting worse on the drive to Grmec. It was pissing down!!
No dirt track today, we took the road parallel. We pulled over as close to the pin point as possible.
The monument was nowhere to be seen. Keith turned on his data and loaded up our Google map. The pin point was further up the road. Somehow I had messed up the Maps.me pin point. We found it.
Monument to the Revolution, Grmeč
The rain showed no signs of stopping so we had to brave it. The monument was really cool but very neglected.
The memorial centre of Korčanica commemorates the liberation of Sanski Most during World War 2.
We set off towards Sarajevo where we would be staying for the next two nights with one more monument en route. The drive was painfully long. There are numerous speed cameras in Bosnia, they are grey and generally there are no warning signs, I think I may possibly have set one off.
There was not a lot of choice at the petrol station we stopped at for food, just got a few snack Keith got peanut crisps.
Finally we made it to monument after a long, steep drive up a hill.
Located on the Smetovi mountain; the monument was built in 1968. It is dedicated to fallen fighters of Zenica Partisan Detachment – an anti-Nazi resistance movement.
There wasn’t really much to see so after a few snaps we headed for Sarajevo.
Finally a decent motorway! It was a toll road though.
I got a bit stressed driving round looking for somewhere to park near the apartment; we found a car
park fairly close.
The apartment on fifth floor with no lift! It had good Wi-Fi which was nice.
It had been a long day and we were shattered but hungry, Keith had noticed an Italian restaurant on our
road so we headed there. We had chocolate mousse with raspberry for dessert, it was nice!
Keith was out of money so went to a cash point, the first one would not take his card, the second one took the card but even after pressing the button for cash no money came out!
We went back to room to relax and use the Wi-Fi.
Day Five – Tuesday 14th June 2016
The shower wasn’t great; the water was warm and cold then warm and cold.
The weather forecast said it would rain at some point in day, though it started out as one of the sunniest days so far.
The hunt for a snack for breakfast took us into Sarajevo old town. I ended up getting spinach and cheese pasty or pasties! I was expecting one but got a whole plate full!
The 1984 Winter Olympic ski jumps were the next stop. It was a short(ish) drive from Sarajevo.
Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics – Ski Jumps
We were able to climb all the way to the top of the towers. You can’t really gauge how high it is from the photos but trust me it was very, very high!
Visiting the jumps took a little longer than we anticipated so if we had gone to bob sleigh track too there would have not been a lot of time to check out Sarajevo city centre.
The apartment owner had recommended a cheaper car park so we parked there.
We wandered around Sarajevo old town and the not so old town taking in sights and a couple of malls.
The sights included the Latin Bridge and streets around it; the place where Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire was assassinated on June 28, 1914 resulting in the First World War and the Holiday Inn which housed some the world’s reporters during the 1990s Yugoslavian war where it got regularly got shelled.
I really liked Sarajevo.
Looks like if we if this trip had been a few weeks later we would have encountered a festival at one of the monuments!
I took our bags back to apartment while Keith waited. He was approached by a man who told him about his time during the 1990’s war and showed him his war injuries.
We were hungry so looked for somewhere to eat. The first place we tried told us it was Ramadan so they only has a limited menu, he made it sound far too complicated so we moved on.
In the next restaurant I ordered pasta but they served me a pizza! Yes another pizza, my third of the trip so far.
There was a little girl going around the tables begging, she wouldn’t take no for an answer.
It had been another long day so we headed back to apartment to wind down.
Day Six – Wednesday 15th June 2016
Keith needed food so went to Pengvin fast food. He thinks he ordered, but we waited for 15 minutes and he was still without his food. They seemed so be serving food to other people so pretty annoyed he walked out.
The parking attendant gave us a discount on our parking when we told him where we had stayed which was nice.
We headed for the bob sleigh track. On the way out of Sarajevo the satnav kept trying to take us up a dead end so we had to use KeithNav again. The satnav finally rerouted but I wish we had ignored it, it took us up a shocking steep gravel track. On the plus side at the end of the road was the bob sleigh track.
Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics – Bob Sleigh Track
After we had walked the entire track, we had to walk up a long steep hill to get back to the car, we were knackered.
The fuel was low again so we stopped, filled up and got some crisps for brunch.
The next stop was the monument at Tjentiste.
It commemorates the battle of the Sutjeska during World War II. Over 7,000 people were killed, but the Yugoslav forces were able to foil a Nazi plan and escape.
It was epic.
Having seen pictures online of the monument you couldn’t really get a good gauge of the scale. It is huge.
There were huge grasshoppers everywhere, we also saw a lizard and a snake.
There is another other concrete building nearby which is or was a museum.
Mostar was the next city on our hit list, the drive took us along winding mountains roads which were getting quite sick of.
Eventually we made it, it was now 6pm.
The apartment was big and pretty nice too, it even had a fish tank. After a brief stop we went to explore Mostar.
Stari Most Bridge
First we walked down to the river to get a view of the Stari Most bridge from below before heading into the old town.
The bridge across the Neretva river gorge was built in 1566. It was destroyed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993 by Croat forces. In 2004 the bridge reopened. It was rebuilt with stones from the original bridge recovered from the river below and stone from local quarries.
We walked over the bridge which is quite steep and awkward to walk over due to the raised lines of stone.
We continued our walk into the newer part of town before heading back to the old town to find a restaurant and have a meal with a view of the river and the bridge. The view was really good and we ate while the sun set only down side was the slight smell of sewage; we were sat next to the toilets.
For dessert we got Ice cream from a stall in the street then headed to the apartment to chill and book a Rijeka hotel.
For some reason booking.com would not let us book anything so we decided to try again in the morning.
I retired to my bunk bed for the night.
Day 7 – Thursday 16th June 2016
Booking.com still wouldn’t let us book. I had a thought, maybe the apartment’s internet was blocking the site for some reason, I was right, when Keith turned on his data tried it worked fine.
As we were about to walk out the door Keith got an apology email saying it the apartment was booked seconds before us. I got the laptop out and quickly found another. Keith booked using data.
Before hitting the road we headed into Mostar old town to get some souvenirs and food. On the bridge there was a man in his trunks ready to jump off.
After having a pasty and getting a few souvenirs/presents we walked back over the bridge, the man we saw earlier was drying himself with a towel – we missed his jump.
On the way back to the car a man approached us; he wanted us to pay to watch a bridge jumper, and would take no for an answer when we told him we were leaving Mostar. He told us he had a photo with Boris Johnson.
The roads towards the Croatian border were not amazing, we hoped for better roads when back in Croatia.
We spent all our Bosnian money obviously thinking we would no longer need any and then we saw the dreaded toll sign!
What could we do? We had to risk it.
We were lucky; you can pay for the toll by credit card and with that our adventure through Bosnia and Herzegovina was over.
Check out Keith’s vlog about the trip…..