The only problem – a relatively minor one – with leaving Dubrovnik a day earlier than planned was that after my previous day’s kayak trip, I’d just withdrawn a load of Croatian Kuna, a currency which was about to become useless.
Hopefully I can find another traveler willing to make an exchange before I get too far away from the region.
The bus ride from Croatia to Bosnia was a very interesting one. Although I’d missed out on most of the Adriatic coast when I made my way South from Zagreb at night, this ride provided me an unexpected second chance – for the first hour or so we skipped right along the waterline, weaving in and out of the mountains that drop off directly into the sea. It wasn’t quite the full-length coastal experience, but a nice sample of what it has to offer.
Then we turned inland towards Bosnia. The difference was apparent the instant we crossed the border.
Whereas Croatia is quite pristine – well-maintained homes, modern buildings, smooth roads, generally litter and graffiti-free – in Bosnia you can really sense the country’s continued struggle to recover from the ravages of war. Many of the smaller homes and buildings still have visible damage, everything from tiny bullet holes to huge mortar impacts. Some are crumbling and abandoned, while others remain standing – but look about as solid as swiss cheese. Abandoned bunkers and trenches are not a rarity.
Don’t get me wrong, Bosnia (or what I saw of it) certainly does not feel like a country in ruin. Nevertheless, it is a very stark difference from Croatia just a few dozen kilometers towards the coast. For as long as we drove, each time I saw a clean, newly built home there was at least one with evidence of bullet holes or artillery hits. Highway tunnels no longer had rounded concrete inner walls, but were simply openings cut through the mountain – with exposed rock all throughout. Everything just felt far more crude.
Bosnia was clearly going to be a different kind of experience. Even the roadsigns were now doubled in Cyrillic, an alphabet I haven’t seen used yet on this trip – though I’m sure it’ll become more and more common as I make my way East towards Ukraine.
I just wonder how the capital city of Sarajevo will feel, as the above observations were all made in small villages along the way…