Thursday, 10 May 2012

Made it to Sarajevo today

Couldn't get a good enough signal last night in the tent afterall - just enough to look on FB but nothing else. So that's why there was no blog.But I did write it and have just posted it.

But today we crossed into Bosnia. Went over the border at Bihac, stopped to take pictures at the 'Welcome to Bosnia' sign and I dropped my bike. Nothing serious - side stand sunk into soft ground and toppled over but it was easy to pick up and no damage.

But what a difference between Bosnia and Croatia. There is definitely a different feel to this place but it's hard to describe why. Its an odd mix of rural farmy stuff and people with no teeth, and well dressed people in top of the range cars,using the latest digital camera stuff. A very peculiar mix, but all coexisting seemingly quite happily.

The mean machines hit 2000k today - right at the top of a particularly windy mountain road which was great for the obligatory photo.However, my bike has developed a very tinny rattle - think more baffles inside the exhaust have detached and are banging around as we go along. It doesn't make any difference to how it runs but it does make a bit of a noise and announces our arrival. Might try to get it fixed in Istanbul though.

 We've reached 2000km!

As we rode this morning, we passed many memorial stones to people. Not sure if they had been killed in the war or trashed on the road but if it is the later, then its not a good advert for bosnian driving skills as there are loads of them, and all dated around about the same time. Isolated plaques, each etched on some sort of dark stone with the peron's picture and their personal details. Alongside the road, in fields, in towns, gardens, school yards.I suppose war isn't choosy when it comes to picking off the enemy, whoever that enemy might be. A bit incongrous to see the stones in picturesque scenery and now calm and well cared for peaceful towns though.

 Stopped off in Jajce to have a look at a waterfall and eat ice cream in the last King of Bosnia's front yard. Not a bad spot. His castle is on top of a cliff, and a river runs by the side, dropping down in a series of low platforms, over which water flows. Not a bad water feature and the ice cream was good too.

Did some big miles today too - about 270 - and on a mixture of excellent empty roads, and some right dodgy ones. It seems that half of Bosnia is currently being dug up and having the top layer of road surface removed  in a sort of bizarre exfoliation process. Trouble is, they do the whole road at once and don't shut any of it, so cars, trucks and buses and dogs compete for the little bit of road, and we joined them today which proved to be a bit scary add the grooves that are left go in the direction of travel and are just wide enough for our tyres to get trapped in. It was quite tiring, but neither of us fell off.

 Had a bit of a dodgy stretch though when we were called to the front of a traffic jam and told to carry on.We had about a metre of carrriageway, but were going against the traffic, which was coming at us at full pelt. It was only made worse when a big dog decided to chase us. He missed Nadine -who later confessed she hadn't even seen him- but made a beeline for me as we both reached a gap in the Armco together. He was a big bitey werewolf thing, running at full pelt, so I had to stand up on the left footpeg and kick out at him with my right foot. Fortunately he got the message and I out ran him.

Had a mad ride into Sarjevo, along the main drag and past war damaged buildings that still show signs of the previous conflict. We arrived in rush hour, so it was a bit like wacky races, but again, we survived and reached the hostel in one piece. Staying in a hostel for a few nights in the old bit, above the old town, with some friends of Nadine's. Nice people.

Funniest thing all day and all of this trip however is the dog from the hostel (Medi, a large fluffy dog) howling in time to the call to prayer from the nearby mosque. He even knew when to pause and when to raise his voice. I filmed him doing it but he spotted me and got all shy. Going for a look around the city tomorrow.