The day of our departure from Croatia and our entry into Bosnia and Herzegovina has arrived. The impressions of the country we leave are positive, both for the scenery and attractions that we visited, and for the people we met. Of course, we didn’t have the opportunity to meet their daily lives, nor to contact more than as tourists. The truth is that in some other countries, some behaviors are recognized and most simple contacts. Overall impressions are positive!
The point of our night rest was very close to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina (about 20km). The weather again made us the games and the night before it rained. It neither seemed menacing, but nor predictable too. Because the room we stayed in did not have even coffee, we decided to pack things up and get our breakfast at one of the local restaurants.
At 10am we departed for the border. The ride was comfort and with minimal traffic. The vegetation, although wasn’t as bushing-compared with the previous days- composed a beautiful landscape that makes our driving enjoyable. Arriving at the border, we found that there were only Bosnian officials, who controlled us. The process was short and control almost nonexistent.
As we entered to Bosnia, the weather seemed to improving, and our mood gets better, as happens when you start to see something new. Our emotions were mixed, as it was the fourth country that we would visit on this trip and basically was the last "unknown" country of our trek this year.
From the very first kilometers, you can see that the landscape was almost the same as that of Croatia. We met the first villages in which you could see the first differences... The most important of these were the existence of mosques. Also we watched that homes were less conserved than those of the previous countries we visited. The marking of roads were good but the development of tourism too small.
After a few kilometers we arrived in town Bihac and decided to take a walk from downtown. It wasn’t big city and the river crossing defines the center of the city. We moved easily on the streets and the impression we had was that it was a neat town.
We stopped in the center to make foreign currency and then followed the signs to Sarajevo. A good idea was to have followed the advice of the owner of the room we stayed overnight the day before and stop there for coffee... but we stopped earlier, so we continued our journey…
From there we drove on country roads. Encounter small villages with almost no tourism development. Not seeing rentals and hotels and a few restaurants were along the road. Sometimes there was a sign for attraction of the area, but certainly not to the extent that we met in Croatia. The vegetation elsewhere was lush, consisting of trees and firs and elsewhere lower. We were moving at an altitude of over 500 meters which in some places reached 1000m.
We passed through some interesting villages like Kljuc. Following always the signs for Sarajevo, we continued until the junction in the village Cadavica. There we turned left towards Banja Luka, the largest city of the area were the Serbs lives in Bosnia. Bosnia - Herzegovina, after a troubled history, with civil wars and a lot of blood, turned out to have a population of Serbs, Croats and Bosnians, essentially dividing point is the religion and not ethnicity.
Turning left, we followed the road for which I had many reservations regarding the quality, from what I had seen on maps. However, the reality was different as it is an amazing journey that moves in plateaus and climbs mountains leading to Banja Luka. Of course, the original plan was simply to meet the road Banja Luka-Jajce which follows the river Vrbas, in a canyon.
Finally, we got so close to Banja Luka we thought it was a good opportunity for a short visit and a stop for a coffee in the bustling pedestrian zone. The Banja Luke was never a tourist destinatio and the chances to become a tourist attraction decreased even more since 1993, when all 16 mosques were blown. Losses of that year swelled to the disasters of the Second World War and the tragic earthquake in 1969.
However, it has a large 16th-century castle which hosts a music and theatric festival every July. In the center is the Presidential Palace and directly opposite is the Town Hall. After we drank our coffee we departed with a southern route again following signs for Sarajevo. We made a stop for refueling noting that gasoline had the lowest rate (about 1,25€/liter) compared to the other countries we visited on this trip (Croatia: 1,4€ - Montenegro: 1,3€).
The route Banja Luka-Jajce - Travnik is amazing! The road was in relatively good condition, but the scenery impresses even the most discerning visitor. Along the river, the road follows its sides, sometimes almost at the same level and sometimes several feet above them. In many parts of the river the water was running rapidly, while in some other points form lakes because of the hydroelectric dams that exist. Moving to the south, the river was on our left side at the bigger part of the route, which did not help to have a good view of it. In some places, however, we passed through bridges on the other side.
We met many tunnels that made the trip fantastic! In many places the canyon was narrower and steeper, giving a character more impressive! Along the way, we met several camping, next to the river most of which were closed by the period we passed. Amid all this scenery we were so engrossed that when suddenly saw the fortress of Jajce I couldn’t realize that we had done a big distance!
Giorgos Z who was in front all the way-as he had revisited the area in the past-turned right at junction for Jajce and passing the bridge emerges above us the impressive waterfalls of the city, just below the fortress walls of the old city. Jajce is a real gem of Bosnia! Jajce is a city originally built in 14th century. The city has walls and bastions that surround a part of it. The interior area of walls inhabited and there are several churches and mosques built in different periods. The 3-4 gates of the castle lead to different parts of the city.
So we stopped to photograph the waterfalls and then we visited the castle, which is inhabited. We walked for a while until we arrived at a ruined church, beside a bastion and the entrance to a catacomb. We paid a small fee (1€) and visited the interior that was interesting.
The time had passed, however, and we wanted to get in Travnik, who abstained 65km. We had already drove for 285km. until that moment but we had not understood it, as the trail was much interesting. However, the sun was setting and the cold had already made his presence felt. Furthermore, we did not make a room reservation, thus there was a relevant stress as the Travnik is not famous for its many options...
Following again a road through lush vegetation, in the 7.30pm we arrived at beautiful Muslim Travnik. The small town impresses with houses and minarets rising at various points. Also impressive are awesome patched holes in two neighboring blocks of rockets that fell at the time of hostilities, located at the entrance of the city...
Travnik was once the headquarters of the Turkish vizier, who ruled Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1699 to 1851. The city developed into a diplomatic crossroads. During the war, although fighting between Croats and Muslims took place in the surrounding hills, the city remained almost intact.
Eventually our fears were confirmed and the accommodations we had found on the internet, but we had booked was full! We started searching until we arrived at Apartments ONIKS (50€/4persons). The room was not worth the money, although the money was not much for 4 people. We did not care though... so changed and started to do a walk downtown that abstained 3-4 minutes’ walk... The main point is the small river that flows through the city and is one of its attractions . We sat in a restaurant and sample local cuisine and of course the hot bread of Travnik which is famous at guests.
We returned to the room tired from the journey of the day, as we have accumulated 340 km so far on provincial roads without realizing it!