Like much of the rest of Europe gasoline boat motors are not allowed in much of Bosnia. Europeans are much more careful about the environment than we are in North America. Mike and I are seriously considering trying to purchase an electric motor for our boat.
After Sarajevo we spent seven nights in the town of Jajce. The town is lovely, but the temperature was far too high for me to enjoy it the way I would have liked. We stayed on the grounds of a youth hostel that they had turned into a small campground. We were on a slight hill overlooking a mountain stream with water falling into a pond. We were told that you could swim there but 20 seconds in the mountain water would cool you down for two hours! We were almost in the centre of town. The town is known for being a small walled city with a fortress on the top of a hill in the middle of town. It is also well known in the area for having really lovely water falls almost in the centre of town.
If you look closely at the photo of the town of Jajce above, you will see the waterfall in the lower right. The houses in town are just above the waterfall and if you look closely behind them you will see the old city walls. In the top left of the photo you can see the old fortress. All of these landmarks are within a few minutes’ walk of each other. That was really nice, and it was great that our camper was about a five-minute walk from this photo.
A few kilometres out of town are the Pliva Lakes, which, of course, don’t allow gasoline powered motorboats. The lakes are a major attraction for kayaking and canoeing because the water is “Heavy”. This means that there is a naturally occurring additional atom of hydrogen that provides extra stability to the water. Apparently, this unique condition results in the water being very flat and stable and this provides the perfect venue for the kayak and canoe competitions held here. I must tell you that Mike is extremely skeptical about all this, in fact he doesn’t really believe it. The stillness of the water certainly does create stunning reflections of the surrounding trees and mountains.
We spent one day in Banja Luka which is the second largest city in Bosnia. It reminded Mike of Oxford, England with the punts going down river in town. Probably because of the mountains, there is water everywhere here. We sat and had lunch in restaurants overlooking tumbling water in both Banja Luka and Pliva Lakes. What a pleasant way to spend your afternoons. We wandered around the remains of the fortress in Banja Luka but again, the heat was more than I felt comfortable with.
One hot day, Mike and I went for an air-conditioned drive in the mountains. As you know, the roads in the mountains are very small and narrow. I must admit that this is often true for the roads in the towns as well. People here get quite used to backing up their cars to let oncoming vehicles pass by. Sometimes, especially in the mountains with all the blind curves, cars are going much too fast. We saw one accident when we were driving in the mountains. The two cars involved were in bad shape with the side ripped off one and the back bumper ripped off the other. About one minute after we passed these two cars, Mike had to slam on the brakes for a car coming much too fast towards us on the narrow road.
Cross walks are largely ignored here. This only seems strange since we haven’t seen this a lot this year. In places like Croatia pedestrians don’t appear to even check when they cross at a cross walk, they know that traffic will always stop.
One thing that was very noticeable as we drove throughout Bosnia is that the entire country is still recovering from the Bosnian War in 1992-1995. The three “constituents” or religions (Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim) are not really well integrated and I don’t know if they ever will be.
We talked to quite a few campers who were familiar with Albania. Literally everyone commented on the outstanding friendliness of the Albanians that they met. They said that they couldn’t be nicer, friendlier or more helpful. Although the people were great, we heard that the road conditions were not. If they hadn’t taken Albania off the list for our car insurance we would probably have spent some time there, at least in the north western part of the country. There was one campground near Montenegro that was highly recommended, but it wasn’t worth the hassle or the cost of getting insurance for 15 or 30 days just to drive to and from the campground in the RV.
I just found a YouTube channel that I quite like. It is called “Geography Now”. It introduces you to a country really quickly (they speed up the video). The commentator teaches you about the meaning of the countries flag, who the country gets on with, what the demographics are etc. It sounds boring but it is a good way to get a quick introduction to a country.
The main bridge to the highway near our campground in Jajce was closed for construction and we had to take some narrower roads. If two trucks or buses had to pass, then one of them would need to back up which we can’t do while flat towing the car (towing without a trailer). The road was much busier than normal because of the bridge closure. We decided that the easiest thing would be for me to drive the car for the first 20 minutes until we got to somewhat wider roads. We wanted to turn left out of the campground, but the road didn’t allow for that. Luckily Europe really likes their roundabouts, so we turned towards town and then basically did a U turn at the first roundabout. I think that roundabouts would help traffic in North America if people had a chance to get used to them. Following Mike in the car was actually quite interesting. When you sit at the very front of the RV you see the look on the faces of the people that see us coming. Following in the car, especially as we drove in and out of town, you got to see everyone’s expressions. It was really priceless. Although I would like our RV to be slightly narrower in Europe, the look of it, especially while towing the car, really attracts attention that we actually quite like.
As I followed Mike on the narrow road, I found that I didn’t have to worry about blind turns at all. When I was behind the RV it cleared the whole road for me. That was pretty nice.
As we were exiting Bosnia at the northern border, the police told us that we couldn’t tow our car and that it needed someone driving it. Luckily, we were exiting not entering, and they let us go. When we had arrived at the southern border the police hadn’t said anything. I really think they just don’t know if the way we tow our car is legal or not because they have never seen it before.
So far this year we have been in a tiny corner of Italy, driven down the length of Croatia, and travelled through Montenegro and then Bosnia. Our sightseeing and scenic views have been all about mountains and water with medieval villages occasionally thrown into the mix. You really never know how a year will turn out.
We are now heading to Zagreb and then Ljubljana for a few days each. We visited both of them last year. Since they are the capital cities of Croatia and Slovenia, the main highways take you through both cities. Seeing them again should be fun and then we are on to Triglav National Park in Slovenia. Mike wants to stay at a camper stop just inside the Italian border while we visit the park. This way he will get to add the Italy sticker to our RV.