Hitchhiking failure and on the tourist trial in Sarajevo and Mostar

Not often are we beaten in our hitchhiking adventures but unfortunately it was time to admit defeat. Hitchhiking in Bosnia is not impossible but it is tortuously slow and after only getting as far as Jablinica in our hitchhike from Banja Luka to Sarajevo, we knew it was the moment to climb on a bus. We tried, god damn it, we tried.

Beautiful mountains sourrounding Jablanica, Bosnia and Herzegovina - small

Bus journeys are, without doubt, one of the most boring things you can do while travelling. Normally we meet lots of natives, are offered coffee and beer and end up in all kinds of weird and wonderful places. When you are on a bus you go from A to B and job done. No frills, no excitement, only relentless city hopping. But what other option did we have? Bosnians are very nice people but they don’t pick up hitchhikers. They smile, they wave, they think it’s hilarious to stick their thumbs up in imitation, but they don’t stop.

One of the few Bosnian people who picked us up

One of the few Bosnian people who picked us up

And so we arrived in Sarajevo by bus. Found ourselves a cheap bed and then went to look at the town. Sarajevo is quaint, and reminded me of a mini Istanbul in many ways.

Gazi Husrev Bey's Mosque, Old Town, Sarajevo, Bosnia

The smell of Shisha pipes, grilled meat and an alarming amount of cafes that don’t sell beer. It is however very pretty with its cobbled stoned narrow alleys lined with an amazing array of tiny stores and workshops and the old school trams trundling along their rickety rails.

Brass souvenirs sold in Sarajevo Old Town, Bosnia

The view across the city from the castle at sunset was particularly lovely.

After spending a couple of days exploring this fascinating town we went back to the bus station and took a bus down to the next stop on any Bosnian adventure, Mostar.

The new Old Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina - view rom a minaret

Famous for the wartime destruction of its UNESCO World Heritage bridge during the Yugoslav wars of the early 90’s, Mostar is a divided town as Catholics inhabit the northern bank and Muslims the southern. The juxtaposition of minarets and church steeples is a stark reminder of the division that still exists here.

The Old bridge at sunset, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The area around the now reconstructed bridge was an unexpected joy, with restaurants and bars looking lazily over the water as locals and tourists alike scaled the surrounding rocks to jump into the icy water below.

People diving into the river in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Muslim influence is evident in its bazaars selling all manner of handmade products including jewelry, pottery and metalwork. Outside of the old town there is still plenty of evidence of the destruction left by the war, as crumbling buildings stand broken, waiting for their chance to be rehabilitated.

The streets of Mostar old town, Bosnia and Herzegovina

And so it is time to leave Bosnia, friendly but divided as it is and head further south in search of new lands and hopefully better luck with hitchhiking.

Old souvenir vendor in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

written by: Jon

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Follow our 2 month hitch-hiking trip across the north of Italy and the Balkan Peninsula:‘The Balkan Peninsula by Thumb 2013′. It’s happening now!

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9 Responses to Hitchhiking failure and on the tourist trial in Sarajevo and Mostar

  1. Jon says:

    I did the same trip two years ago. We hitchhiked through Banja Luka to Mostar in one day. Our last ride, after offering us traditional dinner, drove us to his friends. Since my girlfriend is Swedish and one of his friends lived in Sweden, we were invited home and stayed the night. The next day we drove to the coast. Again a guy who drove us invited us to dinner. At this point i was beginning to believe that it was a Bosnian custom.
    He told us to tell the owner of the local camping site his name and we would stay for free. And sure enough, we did.

    I guess you’re sometimes lucky and sometimes not. That being said, we hard a very difficult time in both Montenegro and Albania. Basically everyone is a cap driver and are expected to get paid. In the end, our opening line was “no money” every time a car stopped.

    Good luck!

    • Thanks a lot for your comment, Jon! It surprises us that you had problems in Montenegro and Albania, which for us were quite easy places to hitch-hike, but after all it’s lottery. Like you said, sometimes you’re lucky and sometimes not.

      We found Albania extremely hitch-hike friendly and although some people did ask for money, if we told them we had none, they still took us for free :) Albanians are an amazing bunch, but we will write about that in the posts to come :)

  2. Pingback: Entering Montenegro, Kotor Bay and Tourist Disinformation Office | Hitch-Hikers' Handbook

  3. Kris Mole says:

    No lie, that old bloke with the beard has been occupying the same spot for at least eight years, probably a lot longer. Every time I’m in Mostar I stop for a little chat. I wonder if his very strange looking daughter is also still in that same spot….

  4. Dimitri Du Four says:

    A different story here. I hitchhiked in Bosnia, and I never had to wait more than 10 minutes. I hitchhiked from Split (Croatia) to Mostar to Sarajevo to Uzice (Serbia)…. without any problem.

    By the way. I talked to this old guy on the last picture… he hates when tourist take pictures of him :)

    Cheers,

    Dimitri

    • Hey Dimitri!
      Thanks for your comment! It’s quite surprising to hear that because we really did try, but I suppose if you start from that side of Bosnia and travel between Mostar and Sarajevo, which is the most touristy trial you would find less problems than the way we did, starting from the godforsaken town of Bihac.
      If you have your story written down, we would be more than happy to publish it as a guest post.
      As for the guy, I asked him if I could take a picture of him, as I found him the most interesting figure in the whole town and he raised no objections :)

  5. kawairakija says:

    I also didn’t have any problems with hitch-hiking in Bosnia. Only once I had to wait more than 15-20 minutes. I went from Serbia (Kuzmin) to Bijeljina, than I’ve had Tuzla, Sarajevo, Travnik, Jajce and Banja Luka on my way back to Novi Sad. Maybe next time you’ll be more lucky,
    I only took bus to Mostar, but it was because I didn’t know the train schedule. I thought there is a train to Mostar around noon and as the price of return ticket isn’t much bigger than single-way (and I wanted to go back to Sarajevo with the train anyway) I came to the train station around 11, so it was too late to hitchhike (it was october, so it was getting dark quite early and I wanted to see the city in the daylight) and I took the bus.

    • Thanks for your comment, Jar. It seems we were extremely unlucky then or maybe just tired of long waiting. If we had 1 more week for our trip we would have definitely tried to hitchhike all the way but as we were feeling we were running out of time, we didn’t want to tempt fate. Next time :)

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