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September 27th, 2010 | Bosnia

Bosnia and a Change of Plan…

Early morning in Podstrana... It did not look too good...!!

Just before leaving the Villa Amigo, I discovered and interesting bit of info about the place… Legend has it that King Arthur, he of “Round Table” fame, is buried here in the Church of St. Martin…!! You might remember from the movie, that he did a bit of “wet work” for the Romans in the days of yore…

I could not verify how true this is, but the locals insist that this is where his remains are to be found…!! A large tombstone detailing his exploits and many titles lies in a sectioned off area behind the little church…

I did not have time to visit the sight, as the rain in Croatia was a persistent irritant…!!

I left Podstrana wearing full rain kit, and within minutes was squinting through driving rain as I made my way further down the coast… I rode through the seaside resort town of Omis and down to the Makarska Riviera, the sun trying to burn away the clouds but with not much success… At times it broke through, bathing the area in a weird light that made the mountains stand out starkly against the dark sky…

The mountains along the southern coast of Croatia are spectacular...

The sun breaks through a small gap in the clouds, and shines a light on the Big Fella... An auspicious sign we thought...!!

I passed a biker just south of Makarska, who was getting ready to hit the road… I noticed that he rode a big GS like mine, and wore the same kit, but then I was past him and riding into a long corner with no place to turn around….

A short while later, I stopped at a lay-by, high above a series of lakes, where a few tour buses had also stopped… While I was taking a few photographs, the biker I had passed earlier rode up and stopped alongside me…

Enter the intrepid William Hoover, who was on his way from Barcelona to Istanbul and beyond, but quite where the “beyond” was, he wasn’t quite sure…!! We chatted for a while, comparing bikes, gear and the routes we had planned…

The intrepid William Hoover arrives on the scene... And you thought I had a lot of luggage...!!

Willy and I... Same bike, same kit...!!

“I’m riding to Mostar for lunch, and then I might go on to Sarajevo,” I told him… “All depends on the weather, as I want to reach Podgorica in Montenegro before dark today…!!” I advised him…

We agreed to ride together as far as Mostar, from where he would ride on to Sarajevo, through to Serbia and into Bulgaria, where he wanted to check out the mountain roads which he had heard so much about…

I thought about my plans going forward, and decided that I would rather stick to my plans of breezing through Bulgaria, but between then and now, I was happy to take it day by day, and see where the road took us…

I think we also needed a bit of time to see how compatible we were and how our riding styles compared… This is often what makes or breaks riding “partnerships”…!!

We passed this village on the way to Melkovic and the Bosnian border...

A large sign welcomed us into Bosnia Hercegovina...

We headed further down the coast, through Ploce, and then turned north to Melkovic and the Bosnian border, where we had to present our passports before being allowed to enter the country… The sun had made a grand entrance to the day, and we had got rid of our rain gear when we met…

In Mostar, we parked the bikes in a little side street and then walked down narrow cobble-stoned alleyways into the old town…

Tourists crowded the famous Mostar Bridge (Stari Most) while we stood looking over the parapet onto the green waters of the Neretva River below… The bridge is a single arch, stone bridge, built by the Ottomans in 1566, and was destroyed in 1993 during the war that took place here…

It was rebuilt in 2004, financed mostly by Spain, and since then, there is an annual “bridge jumping” contest that takes place here… More than a few have not survived the 23 metre drop, with their mental faculties intact…!!

The Mostar Bridge attracts hundreds of tourists...

Collection of stone buildings on the far side of the bridge...

Reading and understanding the menu became a problem...!!

The flip side wasn't any easier...!!

Willi (as calls himself) and I had a leisurely lunch, and got to know each other a little better…

We had much in common, and although he was a good deal older than me, he was one of those “young at heart” guys, who seemed to spend the greater part of his life seeking adventure of one kind or another…

His long list of exploits included biking around South America, which he regards as the best place to ride a bike…

We both prefer solo riding as it turned out, but also enjoy the company of others when not on our bikes… We spent a few hours sizing each other up, and decided to ride on to Sarajevo together and take things from there…

My plans to overnight in Montenegro were forgotten, as we motored out of Mostar in the late afternoon, and headed deeper into Bosnia…

Finally, the Gypsy Biker gets his girl... She turned out to be the silent type...!!

Heading for Sarajevo...

The ride between Mostar and Sarajevo took us along the Jablansko River and up into the mountains around Konjic, where we had to pull over when the drizzle we had been riding in, turned into hard rain…

The final run into Sarajevo took us through a mountain pass, where the road had been blasted through the rocky cliffs along the river… Some of the tunnels were not lined with concrete, and water dripped down as we passed through them…

On the outskirts of Sarajevo, we stopped at a service station to get directions to the Olympic village, where Willy thought we could find a cheaper hotel than we might find in the city…

I was itching to get off the bike and into a hotel… I was not used to messing about and asking for directions, and besides this, it was a lot later than I would normally be out on the streets in a strange town, with darkness fast approaching…

We had been riding through the gathering gloom of early evening, on the way to Sarajevo, and it was after at 6.00pm before we got going again, after getting a set of dubious directions from the attendants at the service station…

We had no idea how much further we needed to ride to get to a hotel, and the people we spoke to could not shed any further light on the ssituation, just pointing up to the cloud covered mountains and giving us a vague idea of how long it would take to get up there…

Our bikes drew lots of attention while we asked directions to the ski-village...

After a long and wet ride, we arrived at the Hotel Han in Babin Do...

We rode deeper into the mountains, along a road that wound its way to the higher altitudes above Sarajevo, and just as darkness fell, we arrived at the village of Babin Do, and stopped at the very first hotel we came across…

The Hotel Han turned out to be one of the nicest places I have stayed in… It is situated on the edge of the giant slalom run that was used in the Sarajevo Winter Olympics of 1994… Being out of season, the village was a bit of a “ghost town” and the only group of people in town were a contingent of police officers who were probably on a course of some sort…

Babin Do, Sarajevo Winter Olympic Village...

We met them at the Marshal Hotel, which was across the road from the Han, and I caused a bit of embarrassment for Willi but pointing at him and in a loud voice saying, “It was him, he’s to blame…!! I had nothing to do with it…!!”

They grinned and laughed, and passed on the opportunity to arrest Willi… Could have been great fun, I think…!!

When I opened my curtains the next morning, this is the view that greeted me... The Giant Slalom course ended in the valley below...!!

There was a very weal internet signal at the hotel, which was as a result of the weather and the remoteness of the location I think… There was even doubt among the staff that they would be able to get a connection strong enough for us to be able to use our credit cards to pay for our rooms…

Being with another rider changed the dynamics of my daily regimen entirely, and would continue to do so over the next few days… There was always something to talk about and Willi is as interesting a character as you’ll ever meet, so writing and updating the website was no longer an option, unless I stayed up until the very small hours of every morning…

After a full day on the bike, and riding in company, this is not a possibility…!!

©GBWT 2010

3 comments to Bosnia and a Change of Plan…

  • Charmz

    OMG, how loaded is Willi? Where on earth does he sit, and why is he travelling with a “Barbie”?
    That is an awesome photograph of the sun ray on ‘Big Fella”, a real moment to cherish. Enjoy the next few days riding with William.

  • Kim

    When I mentioned the fact that you need to attend a wedding – I didn’t mean your own wedding!!!! Although, she does look like a stunner and I have heard men comment that they would prefer the silent type of women….
    I take it that Willi’s “Barbie” is similar to your new girl!!!!!
    You see, Big Fella took my advice of Sunshine D!!!
    BIG kisses
    K

  • asif

    hello plzz tell me the detail of your bike …which company made and which model and also price

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