Our day starts pretty overcast and we don’t see an obvious breakfast option near the camp site so we hit the road. The riding is pretty nice and we make good progress, but we are getting hungry as well. We find a bar at a truck stop around 10AM and gladly follow the bar tenders suggestion of “sendviche”, although we’re not entirely sure what the toppings will be. Turns out he was talking about large fresh baguettes with cheese and tomato, accompanied with a large cup of coffee. I love it how just going with the flow usually turns out this nice.
Now that it’s pretty clear we’ll easily make it to the HUBB meeting in Kolasin we decide to take some time for sightseeing. Mostar isn’t that far of a detour from our originally planned route, so why not?
We’re on bigger roads than the past few days and especially the built-up and busy section between Donji Vakuf and Gornji Vakuf is a bit boring. It sort of reminds us of home: houses and industrial buildings lining the road for miles on end, blocking the views of the undoubtedly nice countryside behind them. Speed traps and pot holes galore.
Fortunately it gets a lot better the closer we get to Mostar.
We ride into Mostar around noon, with the sun burning strong by now. The city is clearly still being rebuilt, with clearly brand new buildings alternating with shot up ruins and construction sites. Finding the historic city centre is pretty easy, just follow the omnipresent signs. Although for a minute we are a bit confused as the signs led us into a dead end street. But it turns out to be correct, from here on is pedestrian only.
And while we’re looking around for some place to park the bikes, this guy comes rushing towards us. He claims to be a parking attendant who will help us out. The cheap homemade plastic name tag pinned to his t-shirt doesn’t look very official, but let’s roll with it. He let’s us park up along the sidewalk and promptly pulls out a big sunshade to protect the bikes from the evil rays from the sun. Not sure where he got that from, it just suddenly seemed to appear from thin air. This is looking more official by the minute. Then he asks us for 2 EUR to look after the bikes while we’re away. After he throws in keeping our jackets and helmets safe for us behind the counter of a bar next door we decide he’s tried hard enough to put some food on the family table and leave our stuff in his care.
Finding the landmark attraction that draws so many other tourists to Mostar is easy. Just follow the overweight Germans and the Asians with the cameras glued to their faces.
The historic city centre is actually pretty nice, but it is also a big tourist trap. If you’re able to ignore that it is nice to hang out and look around.
Another one of the tourist traps. Will he or won’t he?
This is as good a place as any to grab some lunch so we start shopping around with the many “proppers” trying to lure you into the restaurant that pays them most. We go with a guy that promises a table next to the river with a view on the bridge.
The guy wasn’t lying and the food was good and cheaper than one would expect in such a touristy environment.
Whenwe get back to the bikes after lunch, these beauties are parked next to them. They’re owned by 2 Brits that are riding them from the UK to Greece. Brilliant!
Once the road takes us out of the valley that Mostar is located in, we’re all alone on the road again, surrounded by some amazing landscapes. A big sign surrounded with flags welcomes us to the ‘Republic of Srpska’. We follow the flow of the Zalomska river and are suddenly surprised with the view in front of us. We’re closing in on Gacko, which looks like a huge industrial complex with loads of smoking chimneys and cooling towers. The entire mountainside across the valley has been dug up. Not sure whether it was for just sand or rocks, or for more precious minerals.
What is clear though is that they don’t really like people nosing around. A big sign at the entrance of the town forbids taking pictures. So we don’t… well at least not until we’ve passed the city limits.
A bit further down the road is the Sutjeska national park and this big memorial in the “valley of the heroes” that commemorates the battke for Sutjeska in WW2.
It’s almost 6PM when we arrive in Foca ans start looking around for a place to put up our tent. A guy at a local petrol station points us towards Autokamp Drina, a couple of miles down river.
The camp site is pretty expensive for BIH, but the reception is exceptionally friendly and by the time we get out of the shower we’re told our dinner is waiting for us.
It turns out dinner was still swimming in the river next to the camp site only hours earlier. We are served 4 huge trouts a plate full of tomatoes, some spuds and a delicious smoked paprika tapenade. It is too much for the both of us to finish it all, but it is totally delicious.