Road tripping has always been my favorite way of traveling. Maybe it’s because there’s nothing like that feeling of total freedom that you get when you turn the key and hit the road, the possibility to go wherever you want whenever you feel like it and to just stop every time you drive by an epic view or a cute little town. The fact of being able to change your plan at any time, or actually not even needing one.
Maybe it’s for the warmth of the people you meet in tiny villages you’d never be able to reach if you were traveling by bus or train, and the bonds that are created between people spending every hour of every day together for several weeks. Or maybe just because it reminds me of my childhood, when we’d head out with my parents at every chance we got, playing games or singing with my sister in the back seat of our non-airconditioned car, or ‘helping’ my dad by telling him to keep on going straight at every road sign for 435 kilometers in a row…
So when the idea of a road trip through Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania came up, it didn’t take me long to get ridiculously excited about it and to start counting down the days. Stories and tips from Montenegro and Albania are on their way, but let me start by sharing my best memories from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Here’s a list of everything I recommend in his amazing country!
A list with a twist, of course, so for those of you who just feared I was going to start writing ‘Top 10 places to visit in …’ lists, please don’t worry, THAT’S NEVER GONNA HAPPEN!
Photo credit: Jones Around the World
[A] Discover that Bosnian actually uses 2 alphabets, cyrillic and latin. But no need to start a last-minute course of the cyrillic alphabet, the latin alphabet is used in everyday life. By the way, did you know that Bosnian is only one of the three official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina? The other two are Serbian and Croatian.
[B] Spend 2 hours photographing Stari Most, the epic bridge of Mostar. I know I know it’s just a bridge, but look at it! #BridgePorn
[C] Eat cevapi. Unless you’re a vegetarian like me, then your choice will probably be limited to salads or pizza (and bitter lemon and ice-cream but I don’t think that counts as real food). #BitterLemonAddictionIsReal
[D] Bring Dan Flying Solo, but only if you can handle
the screaming every time you drive over a winding mountain road fun in extremely high doses #FearOfHeightsIsABitch
[E] Stop everywhere along the road, get out of your car, open your eyes and fall in love over and over again. Insider tip: with all the beauty of this country and the absence of highways, a 100 km trip can easily take a whole day, so don’t make your schedule too tight!
[F] Call your rental car ‘Funky White Boy‘ and actually think it’s a cool name. In our defense: the car was white and ‘Play that funky music white boy’ was playing on the radio right when we picked it up!
[G] Read about the genocide before you leave, realize how recent it actually is and visit the historical museum of Sarajevo for testimonies and (sometimes shocking) images.
[H] Learn a few words of Bosnian, like ‘dobar dan’ and ‘hvalla’, which mean ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’.
[I] On your way from Sarajevo to Konjic, stop in Ilidza to see its ‘Big Alley’ and realize it’s actually just an asphalt road and some trees… So yeah, I know I just told you to stop ‘everywhere’, but I think you can skip this one… #Didn’tEvenTakeAPicture
[J] Whilst driving from Konjic to Mostar, check out Lake Jablanica to admire its perfectly blue water. #LakePorn
Oh, and bring Jones Around the World on your trip too, even though you’ve never met him before.
[K] Open Google maps, drive to the first place you see on it and discover breathtaking Konjic. #BridgePornPart2
[L] On day 1, scream “Let’s get this baby on the roooooaaaaad” in a weird high voice, making your travel buddies think you’re some kind of nut job, and keep on repeating it before each ride until the end of the trip, laughing your ass off every single time.
[M] Get up at crazy ass o’clock to drive to Hum Mountain, the highest point of Mostar, for sunrise.
[N] Get a taste of Bosnian nightlife and a great view of the city in one of the rooftop bars of Sarajevo. Another option is hanging out in one of the cool bars that stay open late in Mostar.
[O] For desert, get some orasnica (walnut cookies) or oblatna (wafer cakes). Jummie!!
[P] Try the local beers, or pivo.
[Q] Get shivers reading quotes about the war, like this one from Satko Mujagic who was held prisoner in Omarska.
‘It was a different kind of screaming. A man who knows it won’t stop’.
[R] Take the long road from Konjic to Mostar, the one that goes from Jablanica to Prozor and Tomislavgrad, and drive by the amazing Lake Rama. Once you reach Ripci, turn left and head to Scit, right in the middle of the lake, for some 360° views!
[S] Walk around the old town of Sarajevo and climb up the bridge right outside the center to oversee the whole city.
[T] Get a ticket for speeding on day 1 of your trip and ask the cops for a selfie afterwards. (Spoiler alert) They said ‘no’.
[U] Realize how untouched this country is as soon as you leave Sarajevo or Mostar, and be glad you decided to spend a bit more money on a car.
[V] Stay up until 8 AM on the balcony of your apartment in Konjic, drinking beers and drooling over the view at sunrise. No we didn’t need to wait until 8 AM to see the sunrise but oh well… :p
[W] Feel like you’re entering another world when, driving from Lake Rama towards Tomislavgrad (see [R]), the scenery suddenly completely changes from blue lakes and winding roads to green hills and views that could make you wonder if you’re still in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Yes, this country has it all!!!
[X] OK guys, bare with me on this one, I promise I’ll find something better for Y and Z :p
Avoid falling OFF of one of the hundreds of bridges, or you might need X-rays. #BridgePornGoneWrong
[Y] Learn about the history of former Yugoslavia at the Historic Museum in Sarajevo.
[Z] In the area around Mostar, drink some (or a lot of) zilavka, a fresh local wine that’ll help you turn a quiet evening into a crazy night 🙂
Check out my ABC of the coolest things to do on a road trip through Montenegro too, and stay tuned for more upcoming posts about the other places I visited on my Balkans road trip.
Oh, and head over to the comments to let me know if Bosnia and Herzegovina is on your bucket list, or if you’ve already been!