Bosnia and Herzegovina is a special country to cycle through. We pass through beautiful green areas where the air feels moist and warm, rough mountain landscapes with mostly rocks, through cities that radiate liveliness, but also a lot of destruction from the war. Villages that largely consist of ruins where a few people have returned to rebuild there home. We see children on the street playing ball next to a house that is about to collapse. I don’t know whether I think it’s a sad or a beautiful sight.
After almost 3000 kilometers on the bycicle, Q gets his first flat tyre. We were having a break in a small square next to a hotel and got to talk with a couple from Australia who are touring here for three months. After the three months they go to Cambodia to work there for three years as a teacher. They invite us to visit them once we get there! Another very nice meeting. When we want to cycle away, Q finds out that his tire is flat. Fortunately we can arrange a bucket of water at the Hotel. A perfect place to get a flat tire.
We cycle on a bit late, so we quickly have to look for a place to sleep. We can’t just set up our tent here because we see signs everywhere with watch out for minefields and there is a lot of difference in height. We see a village with many ruins and decide to pitch the tent in an old garage. When the tent is completely set up and the vegetables have been cut, two ladies drive by. They live in one of the houses down the road. They are neighbors and don’t mind if we sleep here, but one of the two women insists that we come and sleep at her place. We communicate with hands and feet and show pictures and the map with our plan. She talks about her family and the destruction of her house because of the war. It is special to see how she lives. Water comes from a well and heat is obtained through a wood oven, she lives minimalistic. That evening we drink her homemade Rakia and eat pickle, Ajvar and scrambled eggs with bread. The next morning we get homemade plum marmalade with bread, Bosnian coffee and a glass of Rakia for a happy ride on the bike. We leave in the pouring rain towards Dubrovnik.
We end up staying two nights in an apartment just next to the old town of Dubrovnik. The French couple François and Louice we met at Krka are also here. We invite them to eat with us which was very nice. Nice to have such a homely evening where we can receive guests. The next evening we have dinner at their apartment and we have a game night. In between we stroll through Dubrovnik and we walk to a viewpoint on a mountain next to the city. But the days are rainy, so we also enjoy having an apartment and cook an extensive lunch and call home.
We leave Dubrovnik on a sunny day after a particularly restless night. We experienced an earthquake for the first time in our lives. At first we both thought: dous a very heavy bus pass by, but we soon realized.. no, this is an earthquake. We quickly get dressed to go outside because we didn’t know if this building would hold up and if it would get even worse. Outside we wait to see if a second wave would arrive and talk with the neighbors about what was going on. After a while it was quiet and we dared to go back inside. Yet we did not sleep well. We did not fall asleep until late and during the night we were woken up twice by two more earthquakes. Luckily we were in Dubrovnik because it was not that bad. We hope that the people in Bosnia, where it was much more severe, did not suffer too much damage.
Today we cycle to Montenegro. The last day in Croatia is a beautiful day. We are treated with beautiful weather, beautiful mountain landscapes around us, vineyards on both sides, running water and a green environment. We have been in Croatia for about three weeks and we enjoyed it so much! So many different landscapes, beautiful people, violent storms and wonderfully sunny weather, scary dogs that chased us, but also the birds of prey that always give us the feeling that we are going in the right direction. We only look back with a good feeling and are ready to leave Croatia behind us. Off to Montenegro!!
And wow Montenegro is beautiful!! We are now two full days in Montenegro. The day we crossed the border from Croatia, we soon arrived at the coast. Which is completely populated. We found a campsite next to a busy road but we arrived at a green oasis! We heard a lot of different bird songs and what also was nice was that there was a big group biology students from Slovenia at camp here. It was fun to watch. They couldn’t take three steps without enthusiastically pointing to the ground and crouching down to observe something. Everyone had there own expertise. One looks at spiders, the other at birds and another at reptiles.
After a wonderful night’s sleep we continue cycling with a mega climb on the schedule. Today we go from sea level to 1000 meters altitude. It’s a very warm day, the first day that we feel like summer has arrived. We climb up in 30 degrees Celsius. We go up slowly but steady and with that it is slowly but surely getting cooler. We are treated to beautiful views and we are both climbing in a very good mood. Once at the top we arrive at a bar with plateaus with beautiful views. We share a beer and dangle with our legs over the edge. We ask the owner if he knows if we can pitch our tent here in the area because we only see rocks and differences in height. He indicates that we can set up our tent here! Super nice! The rest of the evening we can enjoy this breathtaking view which keeps changing with the sunset.
It was a rough night. In the evening it was almost windless, but when the sun had set it started to storm. Strong wind, thunder and rain. We couldn’t secure the tent with pegs so the tent was blown back and forth violently. When it stopped raining for a while and we were a bit exhausted and hopeless because we hadn’t slept yet, we decided to open the flysheet so that the wind could blow through the tent. That was a great move! Two problems solved in one, because we were both very hot so some fresh air was no problem and the tent remained much quieter. Fortunately, we were able to rest well for the rest of the night.
Today was one of the best days so far! Have breakfast with a beautiful view, then climb a bit before going down a very long descent into the green mountains of Montenegro. Gradually it became greener and greener today. And we came out of the fresh mountains back into the warmer valley. The scents of young green leaves on the trees, the flowers and pines bring great pleasure. Wow!! How beautiful it is here! The mountains are so steep and densely wooded that we see little human life, but every flat piece has been built by man with houses and grasslands. Everything looks beautiful today and feels vibrant. At the end of the day when we were both tired from all the climbs and descents we did, we went looking for a good place for our tent. We had no idea if it would work because we hadn’t seen a suitable place until now. But we didn’t have to look long when a path led from the road to a beautiful clearing in the woods with a lawn full of flowers. We set up camp and enjoy the last rays of the sun while we eat something. When the sun disappears behind the mountains, we clean up the last things and we go into our tent.
Now sleep soundly for the first time in a while really in the wild. With bird songs surrounding us.