From Zagreb to Sarajevo

Sarajevo (Bosnia i Herzegovina), 17.04.2013

Dobro jutro Zagreb! In bright sunshine we left the hotel to discover the city during daytime. We drove through the beautiful, Austrian-style center of town, dropped the car and walked up to the cathedral and through the old town. In one of the many internet cafés we uploaded fresh fotos to our Flickr stream, and then off we went on our ride towards Sarajevo. Eating fresh Burek we enjoyed the good weather and drove quite fast on an impeccable and empty motorway towards Slavonski Brod.

Here we left the motorway and crossed the border into – well, that was actually not that clear. Tecnically into Bosnia and Herzegovina (the country), but right after the frontier a “Welcome to Republika Srpska” sign welcomed us. No mention of Bosnia, and really the biggest “country” sign I’ve ever seen on any frontier. By the way, the border crossing went smooth, but we had to open the car to get the luggage checked. We learned to cover valuable things. And we found a very practical anti-hassle pitch: “We drive to Russia” seemed to explain everything, made the police smile and let us through without any further question. I don’t know what they think of Russia around here, but it solved all frontier problems with Bosnia.

Once we started driving through the countryside, the road signs mentioned Belgrade but not Sarajevo. We noticed an immediate decline in standards once we crossed the Save river, and the roadsides are full of destroyed houses. Many by war, others by abandonment, but all of them creating a very depressing scenery. Having seen Slovenia (already in the EU) and Croatia (joining the EU this summer), it was sad to see how Bosnia seems to be left behind regarding reconstruction after a war that ended over 17 years ago, modernisation or building of modern infrastructure, improvement of living standards.

DSC_0009In all this surreal environment, we found a charming Etno Village, with traditional peasant houses and a bar and restaurant. And the more we drove towards Sarajevo, the more the situation normalised. We finally entered Sarajevo at sundown. You notice the many cemeteries when entering the city, many of them in the middle of parks and surrounded by very simple fences. I’ll not comment more on this, since the last time I wrote about my impressions in the city they were not well received.

DSC_0051To end the day properly we went to eat some Cevapi in the old town of Sarajevo. It has been many years since I had the chance to do so, and I’ve dreamed about this moment since them. VERY DELICIOUS!!! The beer to the food we had to buy in a supermarket and drink at home, since in the Stari Grad (old town) we couldn’t get any alcohol…

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Trip data (Day/Total)

– Km driven: 414/2.625

– Hrs driving: 5,5/-

– Diesel l/100km: 10,3/11,4 (9,20 HKM/1,23€ in HR; 2,40BAM/1,22€ in BiH)

Bonjour, Ciao and Dobro Vece!

Zagreb (Croatia), 16.04.2013

The day started with a walk through a park dotted with pines, cypresses, broom, rosemary, lavender and more Mediterranean plants whose names I don’t know. The air smelling of fire wood, the grass still covered with dew, we took a delicious breakfast looking over the Grasse valley. What a view, and what a marvelous landscape. We can only recommend Le Mas Candille!

It was in fact so beautiful that we left late. The last km of Côte d’Azur were spectacular. With 25 degrees and sunshine, the arid, Mediterranean mountains dipped into the blue sea, forming one bay after the other. As soon as we crossed into Italy, the road got worse, the towns grey, and the crazy drivers started appearing quite frequently. Then followed several hours of northern Italian motorway, through the Pianura Padana, not my favored spot. No clear view, flat land, too many trucks. It took until the end of the day when the landscape started to become more hilly in Veneto, and then with Dalmatian style rocks as we crossed into Slovenia. The Franco-Italian border was non-existent, here we found some Carabinieri staring at us but too lazy to stop us.

The Slovenian motorways are the best we had so far. New, clean, big – the Switzerland of all European Autobahn 😉 Unfortunately that was as much as we saw, since the night fell pitch black very quickly. 2h later we crossed into Croatia. Finally a real border! With passport control and customs! Our German IDs got us through in no time. Very practical travel documents.

30 mins later we left the motorway and entered a suburb of Zagreb, until arriving at the central Trg Bana Jelacica where we had booked a hotel. And here, surprise! “We have no rooms, we are full.” “But we booked through booking.com.” “Oh really? Then I guess my colleague did not turn off the online booking.” “Too bad. What solution do you offer to your problem now?” “???” “!!!”

We then got a room in another hotel nearby, and took off for very late night dinner. The center of Zagreb at night gave a glance of what we will see tomorrow morning.

Changes done to the blog: as suggested by Alex Wit, we inserted a Google Map with our stops. You can find it in the blogroll. I’m still trying to figure out how to connect the dots to show the route we travel. Any help is welcome, email is best.

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Trip data (Day/Total)

– Km driven: 977/2.225

– Hrs driving: 10/-

– Diesel l/100km: 11.5/11.6 (1,83€ in IT; 1,34€ in SLO)

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