First Nights In Bosnia

posted by: Justin

Reading about Bosnia we saw that campsites were few and farMostar bridge between and that wild camping was potentially dangerous due to the risk of landmines. To date we had camped around 70% of the time across Europe and we weren’t too keen to change our plans (and budget) to encompass hotels or something similar.

After asking for stamps at the Bosnian border to avoid any issues when later crossing to Serbia (and to prove we reached it by bicycle), we began cycling under unforgiving 40 degree sunshine towards Medugorje (some gas stations reported temperatures as high as 48 degrees – surely broken). We had picked Medugorje for our first night as it had a campsite and seemed a little touristic due to being the location of a recent sighting of the Virgin Mary by local residents. Arriving in the town we found endless rows of religious “artefacts” for sale, a huge cathedral with outdoor seating for thousands with multi-lingual confessions under way and a campground filled with campervans and surfaced entirely in gravel. We gritted our teeth, camped near the fence with a glimpse of grass beyond and bought our cheapest beers to date (40 pence for a pint)… not all bad then.

Mostar Inn Burek

Our second day we headed North towards the town of Mostar dreading the fact that it too might be filled with touristic stalls. The riding on the previous day had seen the landscape change only slightly from the rockiness of Croatia but travelling into Mostar we saw a return to rolling farmland and steep tree covered mountains.  Mostar old town was a small jumble of old-style shops rebuilt after the town was heavily bombed in the early 1990s, including destruction of the bridge itself. The attraction here is to pay young men to dive into the river below, however all we saw was much posturing by potential divers and dousing themselves under a hose to give the impression they had recently dived. The Mostar bridge was the first of many Bosnian bridges we were to see and did impress with its sweeping curves across the river gorge. Emma located the Mostar Inn for lunch where we had our first (and still best) Bosnian Pie (Burek), while watching locals dash in and Fishing campsite Ostrozacout for takeaways.

We cycled out of town in the late afternoon headed north towards Sarajevo along a wind filled gorge with many potential free camp spots, but none that quite hit the mark. After passing a town where our map indicated a campsite and finding nothing there, we asked for assistance (between swatting hordes of flies from our sweaty faces) and were directed to a fishing camp. Us on bicycles were a novelty to the campsite residents, as was drifting off to sleep in the tent listening to drunken fishermen through the night for us.

Day three in Bosnia we were up early (hoping to escape the flies of the previous day – Konjic bridgethey were up earlier though) and on the road. Stopping for coffee in Konjic we were surprised at the number of German soldiers around until we discovered that this town’s main bridge had been rebuilt with assistance from the German army with work being completed just last year.

After Konjic the road climbed steeply for 13km to a tunnel and beyond this was a welcoming spit roast restaurant where we stopped for a well deserved meal. Our afternoon ride was sedate until the outskirts of Sarajevo where it swiftly became a four lane motorway. Spotting a sign for a campsite we tried to follow it only to discover the road was closed due to a broken bridge. Luckily a passing horse and cart driver directed us to a foot bridge and our first proper campsite in Bosnia. Soft ground, hot showers and plenty of shade from trees.

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4 responses to “First Nights In Bosnia”

  • Looks like you had a lovely time in Bosnia and as a Bosnian I am very happy. From your pics I see you traveled through Konjic and Ostrozac (my home town). I am a bit nostalgic as I am at work in London and came across your travelog. And now you are in one of my favorite places.
    Love Istanbul.
    Enjoy your travels
    F

  • fk on October 14th, 2010 at 5:06 pm
  • Thanks for the comment about our Bosnia story. We really enjoyed our cycling in Bosnia and found it an unexpected mix of really challenging times and friendly people.

    Its funny as you are at work in London where we lived for 6 years before this trip feeling nostalgic for Bosnia and Im now sitting in Istanbul feeling a bit nostalgic for both our time in Bosnia and London. Ahhh well its a great world that lets us travel so much so we have a chance for nostalgia at all.

    We plan to make the most of our time in Istanbul and after only 3 weeks here so far we are already loving the city especially the fresh fish sandwiches by the ferry terminals!

    Cheers
    Justin

  • Justin on October 14th, 2010 at 5:18 pm
  • Hey fellas,

    are you going back to New Zealand after your journey ends in 2012?

    I’m very interested to see and hear the experiences of a genuine Kiwi from Bosnia. :) Since I live in Bosnia (in Banja Luka, 2nd largest town) and would love to travel to NZ, perhaps even live there, given an opportunity.

    We in Bosnia, as you may have seen, need much more of that English or Kiwi discipline, in terms of organizing a state, first of all, than many other things as well…

    Anyway, I wish you best of luck on the rest of your interested journey. Hope to hear from you. :)

    PS. I love your English accent. 😉

  • Miroslav on November 17th, 2010 at 10:04 pm
  • Hi Miroslav

    Yes we are eventually headed back towards New Zealand but we still have a lot of cycling to do to get there. After we spent the coming winter in Istanbul we will then be cycling on through Russia, Mongolia, maybe China and SE Asia. We still have a lot of planning to do of our route but expect to take about another 18 months to reach NZ.

    NZ is a great place to visit and I hope that one day you get the chance to travel there. If you do definitely look us up.

    Thanks for liking my English accent as well although after 6 years living in the UK I have something like a hybrid NZ + UK accent :)

  • Justin on November 19th, 2010 at 8:30 am

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The map below shows the waypoints for this blog post. To view the details of our trip to date take a look at our complete route map.