27 March 2016

Bumming Around the Balkans

So, as I said before, I took another trip. This isn't a long trip, just a week, as well as the weekends that surrounded it. A total of 9 days (which got extended for another day due to fog). Last December, I went to Croatia as well as to Bosnia & Herzegovina, two countries of the former Yugoslavia. I visited three cities: Dubrovnik, Mostar, and Sarajevo.

On December 19, I started in Dubrovnik. I flew a three-leg itinerary, first flying from Berlin to Munich, and then to Zagreb, and then to Dubrovnik. And when I got to Dubrovnik, my adventure started with a little heart attack, since it turned out that the hostel I was supposed to stay in was closed for the season, yet nobody bothered to tell me. So it was late afternoon, and I found myself at the tourist information office, chatting with the nice girl working behind the counter, asking her for help in finding an alternative accommodation. I eventually found an apartment, which was very nice and cosy, where I stayed for 3 nights.

I had two full days in Dubrovnik. I explored the walled Old City, walked around the walls, visited a couple of museums, and ate in a few good restaurants. Dubrovnik is perhaps the first place I have been to where there was a great difference between high and low season. December is low season for Dubrovnik, and some establishments take this time to renovate and relax. Some restaurants were closed, as well as hotels and lodgings. Some were under construction. In any case, it needed some advance planning to fully enjoy the trip, since there were places that were not open at that time.

That being said, I still enjoyed my visit to Dubrovnik. I took a stroll along the seashore, and I saw all these cafes that have plenty of seats, yet for the most part, were empty. The only ones sitting on them were the local Croatians. It felt like finally the Croatians got their town back for themselves, and enjoying it without the crowds. It is a very different scenery with summer, when cruise ships would dock every day, and the Old Town would just be flooded with daytrippers.

After three nights in Dubrovnik, I took the bus to Mostar. I entered Bosnia and Herzegovina, after enduring a three-hour bus ride next to an alcoholic Bosnian. Somehow the stereotypes were true. But in any case, I reached Mostar after dark, and found my hostel. Unsurprisingly, I was the only one staying in the hostel during that time. I spent two nights there. I had just one full day to explore Mostar, but it was a small city, yet charming nonetheless. The Ottoman bridge is rebuilt, and the Old Town had very interesting sights to see. The city had plenty of remains of the Bosnian War, which seemed to be left standing as a reminder of the tragic past the country has gone through.

The day before Christmas, I took the bus to Sarajevo, which was another 3-hour ride. No alcoholics this time. The ride to Sarajevo was great, following the river and driving through the mountains. I never realized how mountainous this area was until now. I arrived in Sarajevo, and I found the hostel I was staying in, which was located on a hill overlooking the Old City. I had Christmas dinner with the folks in the hostel, and overall, I should say that while I did go sight-seeing in Sarajevo, for me the more touching aspect of that city was not the sights, but the people. I will blog more about that in a later post.

Anyway, that was supposed to be the end of it. I was supposed to leave Sarajevo after three nights. However, there was a thick fog for the whole time I was in the city, and so my flight heading to Vienna was canceled. Instead, the airline put us in a bus, so during the night, we traveled to Zagreb, and from there, we were rebooked, in my case, to a flight to Frankfurt, and from there, to a flight to Berlin.

Pictures will of course follow. Stay tuned!

2 comments:

  1. Sadly, I only know this part of Europe because of the tragic wars in the 1990s. I'm looking forward to reading your trip report!

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    Replies
    1. Zhu,

      Thanks! They are in the pipeline, of course!

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