croatia / bosnia & herzegovina / serbia

brain-dump from few days of backpacking around ex-yougoslavia

2011-10-08; i flew from stockhom to split in croatia. there are shuttle buses operated by croatia airlines from the aiport to the city center [30 HRK].

i spent 2 nights in split. it’s quite nice [probably most touristic yet classy city of those i’ve visited]. old town is a maze of old cobble stone passages reminding me a bit cordoba although buildings in the old town of split are higher. at some places ‘streets’ are 1m wide or even less. so i was getting lost and found there. there’s nice hilly peninsula that i hiked around… city market with real food and real fruits/vegs/meat. i started to realize there that at least once knowledge of polish is more helpful than knowledge of english. i experienced something similar before in ukraine and slovakia. i can understand every maybe 10th word but it’s enough to ask about prices, directions…

2011-10-10; from split i took a bus to mostar [bosnia & herzegovina] [120 HRK]. as split was full of [actually working] catholic churches mostar [and bosnia & herzegovina in general] is full of mosques… fully operational mosques, some of them with mullahs calling for the prayer 5x per day. in mostar i started to see remaining of the recent war: cemeteries, buildings with bullet/shell marks, abandoned construction all around.

i liked mostar most out of all cities i’ve passed by. it has much smaller old town than split but there are great hills around. i took a city bus out of the town [nr 10, 11, 12; bus stop opposite of the train station. check timetable at http://www.mostarbus.ba since bus stops do not have any information about the schedule]. in blagaj i’ve hiked to the ruins of some old fortress and a dervish house. i got back and jumped on another bus – this time to medjugorje [city bus #48; it does not reach the train station, you have to ~20 minutes walk north to this location [as of 2014-09]. [ in 2011 it was: to another stop called “mostar kolodvor” ], bus trip takes ~45 minutes]. i’ve passed by the sanctuary in medjugorje and hiked to the Krizevac hill. tickets costed 3.5BAM per trip.

2011-10-12; after 2 days of sleeping in mostar i took a bus to sarajevo [18 BAM]. road between those two cities was great – most of the time in the valley between quite high hills on both sides, with some mountain rivers, bridges… great views.

sarajevo was in smog – mix of fog, smoke from home wood-powered fireplaces and probably industrial smoke. city – like mostar – is surrounded by hills, with lot of steep streets and houses built on uneven ground. it’s big city… with old part that is mix of turkish remainings [old mosques] and buildings erected by austrians and soc-realistic ugliness. it all feels a bit familiar – like poland 10 years ago. there is so many people selling something – clothes, fruits, vegs, 2nd hand stuff – everywhere. on every corner. old town is full of people drinking coffee and smoking :/. around the old district there are plenty of craftsman shops where people do coffee-mugs and ‘other stuff made of metal’. 2nd day in sarajevo was rainy – it was only bad-weather-day during my trip. people looked strange at me walking around in shorts … but weather was ok-ish for that. ~ 7C in the worst case. mostly 10-18.

2011-10-14; train from sarajevo to belgrade [34BAM] was supposed to take 8h. it took 11.. there was strike action and we had to wait for a replacement bus. it’s just 200km in the straight line but because of something [lack of infrastructure? destroyed infrastructure] there is no short bus or train route between those two. funny thing.. train had just one engine cart and one passenger cart… very very short and actually not crowded.

belgrade is big and crowded.. and it’s last part of my trip. it feels like warsaw [in bad badness way]; i hiked around some old fort, took a longer walk to the modernistic [=built 30-40 years ago] district… spoke with hostel host about their view on the past war, nato, split of yougoslavia. croatia/bosnia&herzegovina/serbia – people speak here almost the same language, but… in serbia they use cyrylic. well they are undecided what to use – some signs/places are written both in latin and cyrylic, some – just cyrylic, some – just latin.

all ex-yougoslavia is filled with people smoking – everywhere, on the streets, in the trains, bars.. it’s still ‘cool’ to smoke here apparently.

food was good… cheap and fresh and tasty and smelling great. wherever i’ve been there were veg/fruit markets. with people selling piles of paprikas, a-bit-bitter-but-great mandarines, grapefruits… and meat/fish – sold in very ‘uncivilized’ [in a good way] conditions. just watching it sold would kill more sensitive swedes.

i slept in hostels.. cheap hostels – paying 10e/night all except belgrade where it costed whooping 22e/night. in split/mostar/sarajevo i was the only person in hostels [not just a hostel room]… was very good, clean.. and super-central.

i flew back on 2011-10-17.

to wrap up: you’ll not find bus time tables; heck – you’ll not even find bus numbers on the bus stops in the cities i visited [maybe except Belgrade]. research on the net [or not; i did not], be patient and ask people. exchanging euro/usd to the local currency is not a problem.

pictures: here.

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