Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the six federal units forming the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The republic succeeded in gaining its independence during the wars in the SFRY in the 1990s. In the bloody civil war, about 100,000 people were killed and half the population moved to live elsewhere.
Day 1 Sofia-Sarajevo
Due to the limited time and the many places I wanted to visit, we were leaving early (5 am) heading for Serbia. There was some fog on the highway, but the journey was relatively fast. The highway is followed by small but beautiful roads with multiple turns. The scenery gradually moves from the fields to the mountains and we seamlessly find ourselves at the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Along the way we saw a lot of motorcyclists and it turned out that there was a traffic jam, mostly made up of motorcycles. It turned out that there was a motorcycle meeting in Bosnia and Herzegovina and everyone traveled there. The border police, as well as several of the cars trying to cross the border, were not particularly pleased with the fact that everyone was heading in the front of the column, but we still passed quickly. On the Serbian side, at least, there was a shade, as opposed to entering Bosnia and Herzegovina. We continue between the mountains to the capital – Sarajevo and in the early afternoon we manage to find the hotel, though after an honorable tour of the city, since at the first time we missed it.
We had reserved Free Tour and after a quick unloading of the bikes we headed to the meeting place. The idea behind the Free Tour itself is pretty good, but you might need to attend morning groups. This way, after the tour, you can visit more interesting places. In our case we did not have this opportunity ..
Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the largest city in the country. Its population today is about 400,000 people, and in 1991 there lived 429 672 people. It was founded in 1461, when its territory was subordinated to the Ottoman Empire. Archduke Franz Ferdinand was killed in Sarajevo, which triggered the outbreak of World War I. The Winter Olympic Games were also held there in 1984. The city was besieged during the wars in the 1990s.
Day 2 Sarajevo – Medjugorje
After breakfast we head to Mostar. The road again meanders between the mountains and is considered one of the most beautiful in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the other hand, it is quite busy. We arrive at Mostar around noon and all possible tourists from the region are lapping the streets. However, we scramble to see the famous bridge.
Stari Most is a pedestrian bridge over the Neretva River in the old part of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It was built in 1557-1566 by an Ottoman architect of Christian origin, Sinan (also known as Koja Mimar Sinan Aga), and according to some legends. In its place, there used to be a wooden bridge that hung on chains and swung so hard that when people had to cross it, they were engulfed in mortal fear, as Ottoman historian Hadji Kalfa recounts. According to one legend, architect Mimar Hayredin, was tasked with constructing this unique bridge, under the threat of death, if he did not manage till the day of the opening. When the scaffolding of the bridge had to be removed, had prepared his own funeral, not knowing if he had done it.
The bridge is 30 meters long and 20 meters above the Neretva River at its highest point. When it was built, the Old Bridge is the largest with such an arch in the world. It is guarded by 2 towers: the Helebiya tower and the Tara tower, also called “Bridge Guardians” or “Mostars”.
Old Bridge has been on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 2005.
On November 9, 1993, during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the bridge was destroyed. It began reconstruction in 1995 and was officially opened on 23 July 2004 in front of representatives of 60 countries.
The bridge symbolizes the link between ethnicities in Herzegovina – Croats and Bosnians.
The locals have fun jumping from it into the river (this is also the place where Red Bull water jumping competitions take place).
The Kravitsa Falls follows. It is located near the border with Croatia. They charge us a fee, but at least they allow us to get close to the waterfall with the bikes. Otherwise, we would have to walk in the heat a few kilometers with all the equipment. The original plan was to sleep on a tent at a nearby campsite, but it turned out that it had not been in operation for several years, but was not mentioned anywhere on the Internet. Free camping is permitted but not recommended due to the large number of active mines in the country. We quickly find a place to sleep in bungalows (quite luxurious according to the common understanding of bungalows) in the nearby town of Medjugorje.
Day 3 Medjugorje – Plitvice lakes (Croatia)
Last day in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I wanted to see as much of the country as possible, so we head for the Plitvice Lakes, but through Bosnia and Herzegovina, instead of the more famous road through Croatia. Alternate lunar landscapes (fields, targets in craters, probably from recent hostilities in the region), derelict villages with houses without roofs, and targets in bullet holes and signs for still undiscovered mining fields.
At a gas station we meet a group of Croatian motorists who recommend us to visit the Una National Park and the waterfalls bearing the same name. The road to them is a dirt road, 15 kilometer winding along the river, which is a border between the two countries, but worth. At this time of year, the river is full of water and the waterfalls are truly impressive.
It is very close to the border with Croatia and Plitvice Lakes National Park, near which we find a campsite where we can spend the night.