[This is part 3 of my recent Euro road trip series. Click here to find the previous parts of the series. ]
The 3rd day of the trip was going to be a long, long day. Keeping that in mind, we woke up by 8 and were ready to leave beautiful Budapest by 9 in the morning. It was a bit chilly at that hour so I dressed accordingly. As we exited the city, we picked up speed. I was actually quite glad and relieved that at one point we covered 200 kms in just a little over an hour. I wanted to reach Bosnia & Herzegovina as soon as possible, and I didn’t mind really high speed at the motorway.
As we got closer to the border with Croatia, we exited the motorway and our speed dwindled. I really enjoyed the views of small, quaint villages and vast sunflower fields as we journeyed into Croatia, through my helmet visor. It was getting hotter as we were going south so we made a quick stop where we got rid of our thermal inner wear. After covering about 220 kms in Hungary we were at the Croatia-Hungary border.
Since Croatia is not a part of Schengen agreement, we had to go through border check. There was a queue and we had to wait for about 15 minutes before reaching the check point. This was where we expected delay due to my Nepali passport, and of course we were right. The border police took more than half an hour to check my passport and RP card from Poland, and we were more than relieved when we could proceed. They seemed to like Poles though as they just talked in Croatian and smiled and we pretty much understood them. I had to write down the name of my parents in a sheet of paper, and I found that a little strange.
The Croatian countryside was beautiful. Really authentic and we didn’t feel like we were in a very touristy country (of course that is mostly on the Croatian seaside..). The motorway in Croatia was so empty that we were often one of the only one or two vehicles on the lane. We stopped at a gas station and filled the tanks. It was all confusing again to see prices in Croatian kunas and get oriented with that. It was possible to exchange some Euros for Croatian kunas at the gas station.
Around the time we reached Croatia-Bosnia&Herzegovina border, I was starting to get stiff and tired but we still had about 330 kms to cover as Mostar lies on the south of the country. Surprisingly, the Bosnian (or Herzegovinian? 😉 ) border guard didn’t even bother checking my passport properly and gave it back to me without any stamp. I was confused so I went back, and asked them to give me an entry stamp against my friends’ advise of just going forward. That was a good idea because I knew I would be checked for an entry stamp when exiting Bosnia&Herzegovina later.
Just as we entered the country, things got really interesting. Houses looked much older and it was obvious that we were in Eastern Europe. What confused me for a bit was the big Serbian looking flags and at one point a board that said “Welcome to Srpska Republic”. That was when I felt for a minute that maybe we had entered Serbia by mistake instead, ha ha. But I quickly remembered that there are different ethnicities and their regions in Bosnia&Herzegovina. I was really pumped the moment we entered the country as this was perhaps the most exotic country on our itinerary.
I loved observing: bullet holes on the run-down houses, people selling home-made alcohol (rakia) on roadsides, old looking gas stations and old vehicles. But the landscapes got more and more beautiful as we entered deep into the country. Green mountains, rivers, picturesque villages and windy one-lane roads (which reminded me so much of Nepal). Even though my body was exhausted by this point already, I was really excited by the new surroundings in a country that looked quite different from the EU. We stopped at a supermarket to stretch and get some food. We were able to exchange Euros for local Marka and bought some supplies at the supermarket. The prices were low, even lower than Poland.
After we refueled our bodies a little with drinks and snacks (we didn’t have time for a sit-down restaurant which was near the supermarket), we continued with our journey. I could see Orthodox churches and mosques in the same neighborhoods that made for interesting views. The scenery was just too beautiful, it was probably my favorite part of the whole trip. I was just a little nervous when Stanislaw overtook slow lorries on such windy roads, but it was thrilling and went fine.
We were slowly but surely getting closer to our destination but all of us were really enjoying the journey too. There was a motorway at one point on the way to Sarajevo, the capital city, which we used. When planning the trip we had plans of stopping in Sarajevo for sightseeing, but we later removed it from the plan as it would just be too much due to our time constraints.
There was no motorway to Mostar after we exited the one leading to Sarajevo but that meant smaller, interesting roads. The mountains were just getting more and more intense and they made for jaw-dropping sights. We went slowly because we were going downhill through the mountains, which again very much reminded me of Thankot area in Nepal. I often reached out for my phone in the pocket to take photos from the moving motorbike as I just couldn’t resist. But the quality of the photos aren’t that great obviously.
It was getting dark and we didn’t have much chance to overtake as the roads were quite narrow and there were good number of vehicles on the road. I do not have words to describe the scenery as you have to just go and see for yourself but let’s say that all of us were really enjoying the moment despite having a very long day. By the time we reached Mostar, it was about 8:30 PM, which means that we were on the road for almost 12 hours! We were naturally exhausted but the town looked so cute that after changing we went out for some food and sightseeing.
The moment I entered the old town of Mostar – I knew that it was my favorite out of all the European old towns I’ve visited. It’s so unique and looked absolutely beautiful on that night where little shops sold colorful items and the structures glowed in the night lights. So, so lively! We spent some time wandering around the area and appreciating its beauty, then had a quick dinner of pancakes (delicious!) and cevapi (heavenly!) and of course some beers to end a very long but very memorable day.
Kilometers covered on 3rd day: 700
Hours on the road: 11.5
Total kilometers covered from starting point(Lodz): 1515
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for follow-up stories on the trip.
Update: Click here to read part 4 of the trip.