The roads in Bosnia and Herzegovina aren’t bad. But it’s clear the start-stop nature of traffic in cities chews up the roads a bit leaving warped tarmac and potholes. Generally, the main roads are actually pretty smooth. There are a lot of fruit sellers at the side of the roads, almost on par with Morocco. I like this mini-culture. I like that in the Balkan countries they haven’t lost their market culture.
The traffic can be a little dangerous to be honest. And I think I won’t return to Bosnia by bicycle.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is sadly devoid of cyclists. A real shame for a country with a struggling economy. I saw only four cyclists on the way to Sarajevo from Mostar, around 130km. Two of them were doing the same thing as me, and looked utterly miserable on the road. I would have been just as unhappy if I were on their side. I had a little gutter on my side, and they didn’t. It wasn’t very pleasant to cycle in but it was better than being crushed alive under a lorry wheel. The lorries in the Balkans “beep” to tell you to get of the road, and they really mean it.
It actually reminded me of the same situation I had cycling from France to Andorra a couple of years ago, where I was also in the gutter.
Aside from cycling through yet another non-bicycle-friendly country, the scenery was stunning.
As it grew darker I stopped to have some food at one of the only places on the road. It was a pretty interesting experience. As I knew it would be dark after dinner I hunted around for somewhere to pitch my tent while it was still light, and there happened to be a little unused train station just across the water.
There are only two train lines in Bosnia. And one is not working. So this spot was perfect for camping.
I went back across the bridge to get some food from the little hut restaurant, the only place around. I wasn’t really expecting to see this…
This was all that was inside. So yeah, you choose your fish, and then they murder it and fry it on the grill outside in the car park for you. Dessert was provided too. Whilst eating a friendly guy shouted “Bicikleta”. I turned around and was presented with a huge bunch of grapes like an offering to a king. Some guy was just driving by with a trailer of grapes and felt like giving some out for free. Ceaseless kindness.
Fat, I rolled over the bridge and camped next to the station.
People are still killed every year from land mines in Bosnia, so this spot was quite ideal. The flooding in 2014 has also swept many of the mines from their original locations and onto land that was otherwise safe. One guy even had an unexploded bomb washed up in his front garden. Better safe than sorry.
It was bloody freezing in the morning. I ate my banana and little Bosnian pastry huddled in my sleeping bag. I haven’t experienced cold temperatures like this since the first few days of April, south of Barcelona six months ago. Winter is coming. It was windy too, so I was fully wrapped up when climbing the hills towards Sarajevo.
Everything was quite nice on the way. The little towns were full of true Bosnian character and I had fun visiting little cafés and second-hand shops on the way. There are lots of bakeries and mini-supermarkets too. And weird, modern mosques that look like alien headquarters.
I also passed through the little town of Konjic with an Ottoman bridge (above). This one was destroyed in WWII unlike the Ottoman bridge in Mostar which was destroyed in the recent war. They’ve not had much luck in recent history, the Bosnians.
The lead in to Sarajevo was pretty grim. The locals even like to joke about the communist style left by the former Yugoslavian government.
I even saw a cycle path (I think the only one in the country). Unfortunately empty though. At least I didn’t have to overtake anybody.
So far, travelling across Bosnia and Herzegovina has been great. But despite the beauty of the countryside, I was glad to be back in a city again and off the road and with copious supplies of cheap local beer.