balkans

i’ve sepnt two August/September weeks traveling with my parents from Dubrovnik via Sarajevo and Zagreb to Budapest. short brain-dump with hiking maps follows.

we started in Dubrovnik – flying from Berlin / Stockholm via Bergen [ end of summer looked great around Bergen – bright sun with patches of rainy clouds, smaller and larger rocky islands neatly connected with bridges, circular fish farms in the sea waters ]. the city turned out to be very touristy and clean, with plenty of visitors at that time of the year. it’s located on the hills gradually meeting the Adriatic on the east side. buildings and streets have terrace-alike layout with plenty of stairs or steep lanes connecting different levels. the older parts has plenty of stone-built buildings and fences. it feels very “Mediterranean” – palm trees, kiwi-fruit trees, wine grapes are everywhere.

the nice parts during the hike – old buildings along the narrow Anice Boskovic street [rather a pedestrian lane], Stari Grad – the old fortified town, way of the Cross from the city to the Srđ hill.

after 2 nights we took a [delayed] bus from the bus station in Dubrovnik to Mostar. surprisingly we’ve crossed the Croatian<>Bosnian border 3 times not once. soon after waiving the passport the last time on that day it was easy to notice that we were in a different country – Croatian stone-built churches with towers on the square plan were replaced by mosques with tall round towers, signs of poverty – more visible, remainings of the 90s [almost invisible in Dubrovnik] – more and more apparent. as we approached Mostar we saw ruins of buildings that were never rebuilt, flat blocks and houses with visible shell marks, buildings ‘patched’ with unpainted bricks in places where whole floors were torn out by explosions, muslim cemeteries.

we stay for 3 nights in Mostar. we took it easy – mornings to go around, get some food [ sheep cheese, ‘real’ salami sausage, grapes, tomatoes and some fresh figs ], then trips to Medjugorje on one day, on the other – Blagaj. i’ve visited both places in 2011, not much changed since then… well – the bus stop stop for #48 to Medjugorje moved slightly to here.

in Medjugorje it started to be apparent that Bosnia & Herzegovina are not homogeneous, very much the opposite; on the way there and in the town we saw plenty of Croatian flags – just that.

route from blagaj to the old Turkish house and ruins of the fortress on the hill nearby. protip – plenty of wild figs on the way there.

after a 3h bus ride from Mostar we arrived to Sarajevo. during 3 night stay there we’ve seen again plenty of signs of the past wars.

i strongly recommend the route below – after passing by the district with older city blocks – full of shell marks on the buildings, half-collapsed ruins, never finished construction projects – we’ve climbed up on the southern hills. it seemed to be Serbian territory – some Orthodox churches on the way, plenty of of Serbian flags; it’s also quite rural – with fields, chickens running around, fruit trees.

and another hike – this time to the northern hill with a radio/tv tower

after Sarajevo we’ve visited rainy Banja Luka for one day. we got there after ~4h of a train ride; it felt just like polish railways … 10-15 years ago. slow, late, in not so good shape. Banja Luka is in the Republika Srpska region of Bosnia & Herzegovina, unsurprisingly it’s full of references to Serbia. more surprisingly it was pretty full of graffiti ‘death to Croats’, ‘Croats are bastards’ and similar… again – makes you wonder for how long BiH will stay in the current borders.

another delayed train ride and we’ve reached rainy Zagreb where we’ve stayed for two nights. it was most ‘western’-looking city out of those that we’ve visited – buildings in the old town were recently renovated, shiny and clean. architecture reminded me that of Vienna.

we did not have much luck when it comes to the railway – our train from Zagreb to Zamardi in Hungary, at the Balaton lake was also severely delayed. Zamardi – like Siofok 2 years ago – felt like familiar Baltic seaside resorts after the touristic season has ended. quiet and empty, with business slowly winding down.

at the very end we’ve reached Budapest to stay there for the last few days. the city is pretty lively and with impressive architecture; unfortunately it’s also polluted and not always in a best shape; nevertheless – highly recommended. pretty long walk from one of our days:

places definitively worth seeing:

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