Travel Journal

Fast track

(Saturday 11 January 2014) by Mariken
Bosnian coffee
Bosnian coffee
Although for many people the start of a new year is a moment to start anew and fresh, battery fully loaded, we started with an empty battery, as we had been so stupid as to leave on the lights the day before. Fortunately, our host found some help in the form of an old man with a spare battery and after some appropriate 'sparks', we were ready to go again. And since then we have been making progress: from Mostar to Sarajevo, to Dubrovnik, to Kotor, in a matter of days. Very different from our relax max months before.

Sarajevo is different from Mostar in the sense that there are - fortunately - not that many ruins in the city centre, so generally the war feels more away. Somehow, we were more aware of it though. Maybe it was because we spent quite some time in a museum dedicated to the remembrance of Srebrenica; not something you want to think about, but which should never be forgotten. Even though I often see evidence to the contrary, I still hope mankind is able to learn from its mistakes in the past. It was a skin crawling experience for me, that museum. It is too gruesome to go into detail here, I can only advise you to go and see for yourself. And with that I mean Bosnia at large. Because it is a beautiful country with friendly people, even though some wounds are still fresh. What I found striking was that I never saw the Bosnian flag somewhere, only the Croatian (in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and the Serbian (in the Republika Srpska). Let's just hope time heals all the wounds, because the country deserves it.

View over Dubrovnik
View over Dubrovnik
After Sarajevo we headed south again, back to Croatia, to Dubrovnik, with a short stopover in Pocitelj. Dubrovnik is a place I was eager to see as year after year many of my PhD colleagues went to Dubrovnik to attend an annual conference on comparative civil procedure. I used to enviously listen to their stories and never joined them, as despite conferences in Dubrovnik - the Pearl of the Adriatic - I was never that into civil procedure law (mild understatement). But now I visited it at last! In the beginning of the nineties Dubrovnik fell victim to the starting Balkan conflict and was shelled by Yugoslav forces. Fortunately, and with some considerable foreign aid, Dubrovnik has been restored to its old splendour. It, again, is a beautiful town, with polished white streets, beautiful churches, interesting musea, quiet monasteries and lively terraces. The only things to be said against Dubrovnik is that first, as a major tourist destination, it is dreadful expensive and second, it is maybe a bit too polished. Dubrovnik was very pretty and I loved wandering the streets in the old town, but to be honest I liked the liveliness in Sarajevo's Bascarsija with all its small coffee bars and cevapcici stands better. Well, you can't have it all.

From Dubrovnik we continued to Kotor, Montenegro, via Trebinje in the Republika Srpska. When driving through the Republika Srpska and Montenegro, we first thought people had en masse been off-roading as many cars were sporting sticks and branches everywhere. However, it turned out to be some sort of custom for Orthodox Christmas (7 January). Apparently people then don't decorate Christmas trees, but their cars with branches of orange trees. Surely a very old custom with a long tradition... :-p

Church of St. George & St. Mary
Church of St. George & St. Mary
Montenegro (Black Mountain) is very aptly named as the vast majority of the country seems to consist out of rocks. When entering the Bay of Kotor from the north, you are rewarded with some truly spectacular views. Montenegro seems to be a country of opposites; dirt cheap in normal daily life, expensive to the point of robbery for touristy things (like a terrace on the beach). Beautiful nature, stunning landscapes, but as soon as more than 2 people live somewhere the landscape turns into a gigantic trash can. I do not yet know whether I like it or not. Kotor is a nice laid back place with some interesting sites and some beautiful scenery, Budva (the other must-see place according to the Lonely Planet and the Rough Guide) strongly resembles a box full of cat litter and, despite the smell, is a real tourist trap.

Next destination: Albania. We keep you posted!

  • 2014 by Bas & Inge
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