The Ups and Downs of Traveling in the Balkans

yet another beautiful view

yet another beautiful view

Besides the narrow coast line of Croatia, the Balkans are a mountainous region with tons of ups and downs and windy roads. Between the valleys and highland plateaus comes mountain range after range, and without any major highways, the journey time from place to place is slow but breathtaking, and sometimes a little frightening. Add a lot of rain and some flooding, and traveling by bus becomes quite the adventure. On the tops of the mountains between Montenegro and Kosovo, everything was pines and snow, so a bus can even take you from summer to winter in a matter of hours.

This trip started in Zadar, on the norther end of the Dalmatian coast, where I couchsurfed with a dentist named Marko. After a couple days of pouring rain and stormy winds, and a few hours of sunshine, I couldn’t really complain about my broken umbrella or soaking shoes since it was still 20`c. The only regrettable thing was not being able to jump into the crystal blue Adriatic sea, since it looked so inviting and seemed to call my name, but it wasn’t quite beach weather.

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a mini port in Zadar

The road from Croatia into Bosnia & Hercegovina was anything but direct, and we may have gotten lost a few times (I was roadtripping with 3 Croats who entrusted me to read the maps and roadsigns…). A few bus rides later I always seemed to be sitting near the one lady who got car-sick, and having someone puking repeatedly into a bag and listening to her heaving noises (one sat beside me and another time behind me) isn’t easy. When I was walking up the road to Ostrog Monastery in Montenegro, a car pulled over to let a woman out to spew throw up directly infront of me. Yum.

I enjoy walking around aimlessly, simply strolling the towns and city centres, but that doesn’t always end up so pleasant. In Sarajevo we nearly got attacked by 10 stray dogs, who seemed to think we had trespassed into their territory when walking past a Muslim cemetery too late at night. There are a lot of not-so-nice stray dogs, but mostly they’re harmless during the day. You’d think the same about people, but one guy tried to offer me a ride to the next town in broad daylight when I was sitting alone waiting for the bus. He was half my size and nearly half my age, so I said yes, only to be offered kisses and condoms and a skinny dipping adventure. No more hitchhiking for me I guess!

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