Monthly Archives: November 2013

From Donji Vakuf to Banja Luka to Zagreb

Donij Vakuf-Zagreb

Donji Vakuf-Zagreb

When we woke up, we were quite cold because even in the summer the temperatures drops near to zero in Central Bosnia due to the elevation and the steep terrain. We also had to wait for a while till the tent dried from the dew.

Bosnain dawn

Bosnian dawn

Tent drying up the dew

Tent drying from the dew

Then, still in the early morning, we started to hitchhike just on the main road, but we had to wait at least two our to get a ride.

Hit the road Jack

Hit the road Jack

Meanwhile I was filling up the time improving my invented song “Land mine, wild camping” (coming soon), finally an aged man took us in his old truck. He was the typical old person with the body wasted because of an entire life working,  but with those bright honest happy eyes, I really liked him. It was Sunday so, as we were going to learn, Bosnian people drink during the whole day. The old little man offered us a beer in the truck, then he stopped in a small bar and invited us to another beer and just before let us in the road he passed throw his house to show his wife that he was carrying foreign hitchhikers, it was touching. We started again to hitchhike (I can’t identify the exact village in Google maps, it was probably Babin Potok) in front of a big house with children playing and the family members staring at us.

Somewhere in central Bosnia

Somewhere in central Bosnia

Somewhere in central Bosnia II

Somewhere in central Bosnia II

We needed again some time to be caught but a little later we were carried by two young heavy metal Bosnians that were also drinking in the car. We were talking about music and then they insisted on hearing me playing Spanish music with the guitar so I had to play “Nube the pegatina” the song I used to keep for that kind of situations. They dropped us in the entrance of Jajce, a very beautify city famous because of its waterfalls where the Pliva River meets the river Vrbas. We were in a busy crossing so we decided to walk a little bit, following the road that borders the town to the north. Happily some meter away we found a very nice view to the waterfalls, but unfortunately all the gaps were in that left side of the road and any of them in our direction.

The waterfalls are just after the cabin... I swear!

The waterfalls are just behindthe cabin… I swear!

...OK, just a little bit further...

…OK, just a little bit further…

We kept walking and started to feel hungry, but any shop was open. After a quite long walk we found the first suitable place to hitchhike in kilometers but a local suspicious woman was already taking over the place. We tried for a while to share the space with her but she “suggested” us to go away so we obeyed, scared about her threat. A little bit later we were so tired that we started to hitchhike in the first small gap we found on the road.

Overview of Jajce

Overview of Jajce

Overview of Jajce II

Overview of Jajce II

The uncrowded roads and the fact that it was Sunday was making our day harder, we also started to feel thirsty, very hungry and worried about the chances to be on time in Zagreb. After one or maybe two hours a young strange guy stopped and agreed to drive us to Banja Luka. As you probably already guessed the guy had the car full of beers (It is definitely a Bosnian tradition), so we recovered our hope in this long day full of ups and downs (this was still nothing, keep reading).

When we arrived to Banja Luka our driver stopped to fill his fuel tank in the first gas station and we decided to stay because we saw a big supermarket and we really needed to eat something. Before saying good bye we insisted on inviting him for a coffee in appreciation to the beers. The guy was in a hurry so he swallowed his coffee at a gulp and left two minutes later.

Filler Pulguita's picture

Filler Pulguita’s picture

We ran to the supermarket like malnourished dogs, but  again the luck got us in the back. We bought a big peace of cheese, a bag of sausages, bread and some garlic. I don’t know how to explain it, but we both really wanted to throw up. The sausage was disgusting, but the cheese…. the cheese was the worst thing I have eaten in my life, the producers should be in jail, not even joking.

 Therewith, we went again to the supermarket to buy some juice or something to cover the taste, but it was already closed so we decided to eat pieces of garlic instead. After that we still wanted to throw up, but at least for a different reason. We where tired and with a slight diurnal hangover but we didn’t have any other option than keep hitchhiking to the north, because our fly was going to take off the next day at midnight. Banja Luka is the second biggest city of Bosnia, is quit big and interesting but we didn’t have any more time for tourism. We followed the road searching for a place to hitchhike but we were exactly in the southern entrance of the city and we wanted to go to the north.

The only picture of Banja Luka we made

The only picture of Banja Luka we made

After one hour or more we had one of the most unpleasant experiences in our trip.  Just after passing a gas station we were walking on the big avenue and we heard a big riot. Right after that we saw a group of young people shouting and walking in our direction, and when we approached a little bit closer, we realized that they were raising their arms just as the unfriendly German dwarf with a funny mustache used to. I imediately took Aleksandra’s hand and I told her to turn around and go to the gas station as fast as possible. In addition of our hippie traveler look we had painted an anarchist “A” on Pulguita’s travelbag, so we had a lot of chances to be in trouble.  Luckily, we reached the gas station’s cafeteria, we sat in the most hidden table and ordered a coffee. From there we could see some of the retarders going in and buying cigarettes but none of them seemed to realize about our presence. We stayed there for a while a little bit scared and very desperate, because the sun was going down, and we really wanted to leave Banja Luka to, at least, wild camp somewhere in the countryside. When we ensured that the road was clear, we went out. The roundabout with the Zagreb highway exit was only some minutes away but we had a very few sunlight left so we did it as fast as we could. During the walk we realized that our Nazi friends were probably coming from the nearby football stadium, were intellectual people normally have their meetings. Once there, we tried to hitchhike the best as we could (if there is some technique) but no one stopped.

Filler Pulguita's picture II

Filler Pulguita’s picture II

The day was turned to be the hardest in our trip but, on the other hand, that is the point of hitchhiking, to never know what is going to happen and be able to overcome all the adversities. Anyway, even if we had had good references about Banja Luka, we really wanted to be out of there quickly so we decided, not without arguing, to take a bus somewhere to the north and we started looking for the bus station. It wasn’t too far, but atsome point we took the wrong way so it took us around one hour to get there. At least something good happened: we discovered that there was a night bus going to Zagreb leaving at 22 and the station minimarket was still open. We ate something and we waited for the bus, it was already completely dark.

Filler Pulguita's picture III

Filler Pulguita’s picture III

When we got to the bus we had again some troubles, it looked that the day was endless, we had bought the ticket and spent all the money we had left in the shop, but the driver wanted to charge us an extra amount to put our backpack in the trunk of the van (yes, it was a van). I started to argue with him but thanks to a friendly guy who got in to the conversation, the driver allowed us to put the backpacks in the van with us. By the way, we were hiding Pulguita at the same time so we didn’t feel relieved until the bus left the station. The next challenge was to cross the European border going into Croatia. The bus was stuck there for at least half an our, everybody showed their documents. From all the passengers, we only had one loss, an innocent young girl who was probably an international terrorist carrying guns into Europe to kill our children. The important part – we smuggled Pulguita in. 

Filler Pulguita's picture IV

Filler Pulguita’s picture IV

Anyway, we arrived to Zagreb on time, around 2 am and some of the shops at the bus station were still open. It was a big station with a huge space with seats on the first floor, and even if the gate´s entrance was open the whole night and there was no security guards, it looked quite save… or not, we were too tired for quibbling. We had a quick sandwich (actually it was a disgusting old greasy Burek, fitting quite well to our days menu) and we found a perfect hidden space in a corner, so we settled with the bags at the bottom and we finally had a deserved sleep, it was a round 3 am.

Advertisements
Categories: Animals, Hitchhike, Hitchhiking, Mountains, Valley, Wild camping | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Sarajevo to Donji Vakuf

Sarajevo-Donij Vakuf

Sarajevo-Donij Vakuf

We woke up early in the morning, folded our tent and we said goodbye to the garden’s man who was already active attending his business. We went to the downtown for the last time, taking the opportunity to thank the man from the Muslim hostel and check on http://hitchwiki.org/ where we should go. We passed again through the Sarajevo’s main avenue Maršala Tita looking at the market, the Cathedral and the Veliki Park for the last time, and than we turned to the right on the Alipašina street to reach the bus stop where you could take a bus to the north exit of the town. Once there. we started talking to some locals that told us about the right bus and when we got in, as if we had still not caught enough attention, we scattered a full bag of salty sticks all over the bus floor. Everybody was looking at us. Finally we arrived to a place that was quite further than our expectations. But it was very suitable to hitchhike (now, thanks to Google maps I know that we were in Vogošća).

Vogošća

Vogošća

There were also two other locals trying to get a ride, but it was quite easy for the three of us. The driver that took us was a very friendly Bosnian who used to work in the French part of Switzerland , so for the first time I could have a conversation with someone in the car.

Valley

Valley

At first he was keeping the distance but soon after he stopped in a ditch so that we could make pictures of the impressive valley we were crossing and in the end he even made a small detour to show us Travnik and offered us a coffee. Travnik is a quite touristic town in the middle of the Lašva valley , especially because of its Fortress, its Ottoman remains and the Lašva River crossing the old town through several ponds.

Travnik

Travnik

Travnik II

Travnik II

Finally, in the late evening we arrived to Donji Vakuf  – our driver’s final destination, a very small town in the middle of nowhere a green steep valley in the center of Bosnia. We tried to hitchhike again till the sundown but any of the five cars that passed by stopped. We were already quite in a hurry because we had to arrive in two days to Zagreb and we were planning to arrive to Banja Luka during the day but the journey became so relaxed and touristic that we had to sleep there. We moved to a nearby desertic gas station and we put our tent, then I went very fast to the village trying to find an open store. I found one and there I realized that I was probably the first Spanish costumer they ever had because I caused a great excitement, so much that I decided to enter to another store only to show off.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sarajevo Second day

The previous night we had already decided to leave the Titos46 Hostel, so in the morning we took a shower, we packed and we were just on time (at 11:00) on the reception, not to miss the check out.

Tito46 Hostel entrance

Tito46 Hostel entrance

Then, we had a breakfast and decided to leave our backpacks there until we find something cheaper. We started looking on the Internet, we had one or two coffees and we spent a while playing with Pulguita on the terrace.

Tito46 Hostel terrace

Tito46 Hostel terrace

Finally we spent the whole morning there whereupon we decided to go out and search from the field. We where quite relaxed, we started to wander about, seeing again the city, this time in the daylight. We could see the markets with tempting fresh fruits and vegetables, the old stately buildings and the mix of Muslim, Serbian Orthodox and Croatian Catholics even from the separates cemeteries. We crossed the river and we ended up eating in a park without any pressure.

…It’s MY food!

Sarajevo central market

Sarajevo central market

Jesus Heart Cathedral back

Jesus Heart Cathedral back

Then we came back to the city center and I don’t remember well how we finished in a Muslim hostel with an advert on the frontwindow, where you could see a garden with camp tents. We came inside, and it turned out it was exactly what we were looking for- a cheap private camping 5 minutes walking from the city centre. The receptionist called for us and we made an appointment with the bakcyard´s owner in the nearby “pigeons´ square” one hour later. Meanwhile we where supposed to pick up our things from the previous hostel.

Doves square

Pigeons´ square (Guess why?)

We were surprisingly on time, the owner was a very talkative and friendly middle-aged guy who had prepared a weird map for us, without any streets names but with arrows “right” and “left”. He was right that it was quite tricky to arrive to the camping site, but not impossible. The garden was part of a big property where, apparently, more families lived. It was a quite spacious piece of land with apple trees, 3 or 4 levels and space for several cars and tents.

Garden

Garden

We realized that there were also many kittens and we wanted to see Pulguita’s reactions to her relatives.  The other cats didn’t care too much about her until we gave her food, then she had to fight a little bit against a bigger (but still small) kitten. We were sooo proud of her bravery.

Pulguitas VS killer cat round 1

Pulguita VS Killer Cat : Round 1

We put the tent and we remained in the backyard for a while playing with Pulguita and enjoying the beautiful view drinking a beer. Then we went again to the city center, thanks to the invaluable help of our new map. On the way down we could see closer the impressive Muslim cemetery because, as I said before, the cemeteries are separated by religion (we didn´t know that before). It was quite distressing to see the ocean of white gravestones, knowing all these people died at the same time, not so long ago, died with no peace, figthing with their neigbours.

Muslim cementery

Muslim cemetery

We walked around the city again, discovering new things like for example the Serb Orthodox Cathedral. But, finally we ended up in the same park we had eaten during the day. There we drank more beer and I played some guitar, but it was getting colder so we decided to come back. We got lost a bit in the small streets, but finally we arrived to our private garden.

Serb Orthodox Church

Serb Orthodox Church

Sarajevo at night

Sarajevo by night

Al Jazeera Balkan headquarters

Al Jazeera Balkan headquarters

War memorandum monument

War memorandum monument

Categories: Animals, City, hiking, hotel, Sightseeing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sarajevo First day

From the outskirts of the city we took an old charming blue tram to the city center, catching people’s eyes again with our big backpacks and our foreigner faces, but specially because of the Pulguita’s meows. However, we started to realize that Sarajevo will be one of the more multicultural places we were going to see (and not talking about tourists).

Old charming blue tram

Old charming blue tram

The Tram left us in the city center. We wanted to look for a cheap place to sleep. We had heard about private backyards to place the tent and we also had the address of a hostel from the previous landlady from Mostar. We wandered around  the city center that is the Muslim neighborhood, made up of narrow streets with maximum 2 floor buildings, full of cafés, souvenir shops, mosques and people everywhere, looking for the tourist information office.

Mosque

Mosque

Arabic Souvenirs Shop

Arabic Souvenirs Shop

Arabic Souvenirs Shop II

Typical coffee shops

After spinning around a little bit we got a map with some hostels marked in, we decided to try with the one we were recommended but in the way something change our plans. In one of the main squares of Sarajevo just in front of Jesus Heart Cathedral and in one of the most trendy cafés of the city we met… Habib again.

Jesus Heart Cathedral

Jesus Heart Cathedral

He was very glad to meet us  (we like to think so), because his friend had already left him, and  so were we, because we didn’t have any plans for a Friday night in a so lively city as Sarajevo. He invited us to drink a beer and we´ve decided to meet up again for later that night, hewanted to to show us the Turkish cuisine.  After the fast beer we had to continue looking for the hostel we knew, we walked for a while so we could see how the city changes when the old town becomes a new business area with big skyscrapers, cinemas and fast food restaurants with some 5 or 6 floors old building still wounded from the war. Anyway, we found the hostel and it was full, so we did the same way back looking for any hostel in our way, we were quite tired, Habib was waiting for us and we saw the prices didn’t vary too much in Sarajevo so we ended up in the hostel Tito 46, guess the street and the number. It was a huge hostel with different types of rooms, a big living room with a kitchen and not-too-friendly receptionist. We took a dry shower (i.e. no shower at all) and we went to meet Habib in the city center.

Tito46 Hostel view

Tito46 Hostel view

Again in the Arabic area, he led us to a street where we chose one of the several Arabic style restaurants, in all of them the specialty was, without any doubts, the Ćevapi, so I had one as well as Habib.  It is a typical Bosnian (Balkan) dish made from minced meat (pork, lamb or beef) usually served with with chopped onions, sour cream, kajmak, ajvar, cottage cheese, minced red pepper and salt. Aleksandra had a great Mediterranean salad (with feta cheese and black olives) and all together we shared a baked potatoes with sauce.

Ćevapi

Ćevapi

Habib

Habib

After that blow out we really needed help our stomachs digest, so we decided to go to one of many tea houses, usually placed in typical Arabic patios in the middle of the block of buildings, where we had an authentic Turkish tea accompanied, of course, by a water pipe. We had a very nice night and we are very grateful to Habib, thank you!  

Typical Arabic patio

Typical Arabic patio

Categories: City, Party, Sightseeing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.