Although Slovenia is not really in my planning, I decide to visit this small country. The Slovenians I met in Moldova invited me to come to Slovenia. Since Zagreb is not far from the Slovenian border, I decide to make a tour around Slovenia. After all, I want to do all the Balkan countries, and Slovenia is part of it. I don’t regret it. Already on the way to Ljubljana, I’m surprised by the beautiful mountain scenery as I follow the paved road along the Sava River. In Domzale, a littlebit outside the capital I find a free camping place next to a garage. From the most friendly owner I get a sheltered spot, out of sight from the road, including free electricity and water.
The city is well accessible by train. A 15 minute ride. For sure it is vacation time in Europe. The city is flooded with tourists. Unfortunately, due to circumstances, the appointment with Marta is cancelled so I explore the city on my own. She arranges that next day I can join a group of friends who are going to make a hike in the mountains. Extremely nice guys and potential company when I’m in the Caucasus next year. In addition, an invitation by one of them (Peter) to visit him in Izola (on the coast). Marta picks us up in the afternoon. How nice, those meetings. The following days I can use the holiday home of Gregor and Mateja in the hills outside Ljubljana. I appreciate and accept the invitation and make some nice bike rides there.
In order not to get used to luxury, the trip continues after 3 days. Because it’s so extremely crowded in this period I pass Bled, a mountain lake with an island in the middle and try my luck at the lake of Bohinj. A fresh dip in the lake is the reward, although I have to look for a free spot. To complete the tour of Slovenia, I visit Peter in Izola after I first drive to the Skocjan caves to see this wonder of water and karst. The Reka River has formed a true gorge under the surface in which even some waterfalls are present.
Together with Peter and his son and daughter, I make a nice bike ride to Piran where swimming and snorkeling are fun. After all these encounters, it’s time for me to go further on my own.
Tourism on the Croatian coast is booming. Nice for the economy, but not so good for me. It is extremely hot, the campsites are crowded and the prices of the same order. In Istria I visit Rovinj for a few hours, and happily find a lovely little camp at the edge of a vineyard in central Istria. The wine stock is being replenished here. For the moment, the outlook is good. The coming Balkan countries have delicious and deliciously cheap wines.
In eight days I travel along Dalmatian Coast to the south before I return to Bosnia-Hercegovina. It is a beautiful coast. A blue sea with its many islands that are yellow on the east side, bare and dry, but on the west side green. Seen from the mainland it is a beautiful sight, that blue and yellow. After Istria the follow sites are visited: the island of Krk, I take a ferry to the island of Pag, Sibenik and Split. And …. Oh yes, a small collision on a parking lot of a big supermarket. Usually I carefully use my mirrors to insert, but sometimes you overlook something. For example, a Peugeot Partner with open tailgate. I have not yet noticed it, but suddenly I’m startled by a staccato of indignation and scorn words (I think) from the mouth of a hot-blooded Italian lady. Fortunately, my reaction rate is still good. By instantly using the brake I can still limit the damage. Fortunately, no debris of the tailgate, but paint damage on its edge. Fortunately I can calm down the lady by putting a hand on her shoulder and apologize, because, Piggy does not know his own strength, but he is a good guy. With her husband, who happily is very friendly and calm, the insurance form is filled out. Another lesson for me to better estimate the matter beforehand and look closely in the mirrors.
After the hustle and bustle, I long for the less touristy Bosnia-Hercegovina. False reasoning !!. At the Kravica waterfall, a lot of people are present and many of them are splashing in the cool water. After 5 minutes I leave the spectacle again and search for a more quiet place. In this case, it is the Medjugorje pilgrimage site, where according to stories, the mother of Jesus, Mary, has appeared many times. The Roman Catholic Church has not acknowledged this pilgrim site so far, but many people are visiting the site. An Irish camper who stays here with his family for three weeks ensures me that he has seen Maria on the hilltop every evening. However, he is very helpful in helping me to maneuver on the tight campingsite so I will forgive him. Before dinner, I visit an open-air sermon, where many hundreds of pilgrims gather. Before I fall asleep, my stomach recommends me to look for a good restaurant.
And then, Mostar follows. Yes, Mostar of the old bridge, the Stari Most, from the 16th century, built by the Turks. Destroyed in 1993 during the Bosnian war. There was heavy fighting between troops from the Bosnian government army and the Bosnian Croats of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia. It’s still in my memory. The TV images of that time. And now I’m here in the same place. It still chases me. The TV images of that time and the personal visits in peace time: Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Tibet, Chile, Argentina, Uganda, Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina and more. Of course, it never stops.
The restored Stari Most is the major public drawer of this city. The bridge is beautiful. Every day a couple of men jump down from the 19 meter high bridge into the Neretva River, after the hat has gone around. Around the bridge not all of the mess of war is yet cleared. That costs too much money. Carcasses of houses, appartments and bank buildings used by snipers are still there. The end of the war is allready 23 years ago.
And then Sarajevo follows. I enjoy the view over Sarajevo from the highest spot next to an old fort. A beautiful free spot next to a nice restaurant whose owner has returned from Germany after 30 years. Sarajevo is a beautiful and interesting place. Especially the old town district with its narrow alleys is very interesting. Of course there are the old TV images and the current situation. I will not repeat it again. Finally,a visit of “The Tunnel of Hope”. I’ve never known about this. A tunnel of 760 meters long dug under the airport runway to provide the city with food, but also ammunition and weapons. If you are interested then you need to read it.
The current Bosnia and Herzegovina is a very complex structured republic. It consists of Federation of Bosnia and Hercegovina and Serbian Republic (Republika Srpska). Interested people can click this.
Soon, maybe tomorrow, I will cross the southern part of Serbia. Then, if it is possible, enter Kosovo from Serbia and then take the only border crossing to Montenegro.
In Dubrovnik I will meet my old cycling mate, Sjoukje, where we will explore Montenegro and Albania with or without a bike.