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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
written by: Jon
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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