to Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
South, via the fabulous Ostrog Monastery, we almost double back on ourselves across the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, onwards to Sarajevo.
Once you wake to find your sharing your cabin with a colony of ants, it’s hard to get back to sleep! I decide to make use of the showers before the rest of the camp starts to stir. Many of the back packers, hikers and climbers up by 05h30.
Even the girl guides were up and packed away before lazy PP. Back to seeking out strong coffee on the road, we’re away a little after 07h15, heading west across the Montenegrin mountains.
Down into the cloud this morning, the temperatures dropped and the visors misted over; climbing out the other side we head south west, over a plateau reminiscent of some in Norway, before Niksic, for our coffee, heading to see the famous Ostrog Monastery.
Getting there involves kilometres of switchbacks, passing up from an already precarious road above the valley below. Tranquility must have been the driving force behind establishing a monastery so secluded and hard to reach. Amazing and well worth the visit.
Turning through 180 degrees, we head back down the mountain and rejoin the main route, heading north, for the border with Bosnia.
Around 40 miles to the crossing, from Pluzine, are two man made lakes and the most amazing gorge; the road beside which is half way up the cliff face, consisting of a series of twists and turns through small tunnels, for around 10 miles.
At the end is the border, which crept up on us very quickly; we check out of Montenegro easily and then pass over a rickety wooden bridge to the Bosnian check point. The latter consists of a ‘goldfish bowl’ style security hut and four shipping containers. We’re told by the guard that they do not sell insurance at this crossing and we may have to go back through Montenegro to a larger crossing.
We ask if anything can be done and he says he’ll check with his boss...to cut a long story short, we park up the bikes, step into the WC container beside the old UN generator; insert 30 euros each into our passports, return and hand them over. We’re told that if we are stopped by the police, we should simply say we lost the paperwork...his colleague says to be careful on the road, as it’s really poor!..they weren’t kidding.
20km further on, we turn into a better surfaced road, that takes us in the direction of Sarajevo. Grabbing a quick coffee, we meet a Swiss guy, who’s cycling all the way to Tokyo, hopefully in time for the Olympic Games 2020...wishing him the best of luck!!
90km to Sarajevo, most of the journey is a series of beautiful gorges, split up by a few hills. The last leg passes relatively quickly; soon we’re turning onto the main drag, past the Broadcast centre and up to the Infamous Holiday Inn Hotel, where the press worked and stayed, respectively, during the siege of the early 1990s.
We check in and relax for a couple of hours before heading out for some food.
Sarajevo really is a city where east meets west...we walk the 2km into the old town, passing the rickety old trams, towards usual, well-known, branded shops; as you walk on, the streets turn into narrower alleys and bazaars. I hadn’t quite appreciated how multicultural the city is. We stop for some food; pitta, salad and steak for PP. Ice cream on the way home, before a good night’s rest.