By raft or by car, you can't beat the views

Trip Start Jun 24, 2011
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Trip End Jul 14, 2011


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Where I stayed
Porto Bello Hotel

Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina  ,
Sunday, July 3, 2011

To be greeted in the morning by the sun was fantastic; my Serbian chaperone had delivered on her promise of a good day. After a hearty breakfast that fulfilled my recommended weekly intake of calories we jumped into the aged Volkswagen and set off for the rafting point.
Nearly two hours driving wove through some absolutely spectacular landscape, during which time we crossed the border and into Montenegro. It should be noted that this area is the world's penultimate canyon system, getting the silver behind Colorado's Grand Canyon; needless to say the spectacular views would be just as incredible from the water.
We arrived at the drop-off and were hastily in the water with no breath spared for instructions; thankfully, I was not tasked with a paddle (with all the directions being in another tongue) and so I was allowed to soak up the magnificent views and snap away with the camera.
It was such a good turn of fortune that the weather was good; the turquoise water was deliciously clear (though exceptionally freezing cold) and the sharp ridges rising all around stunning. Some speedy rapids raised the heartbeat, but overall it was more a fast cruise down a most amazing gorge system.
After lunch at the camp it was time to hit the road once more and set off for Trebinje. Driving back through Tjentiste I was finally given a view of the Sutjeska area, which was more than worth the wait. Taking a precarious winding mountain road (surprise) I was afforded some more amazing views of many other mountain landscapes (one would imagine there is a limit to this, but apparently not in BiH) and recklessly sporadically stopping on the road I was able to get some impressive views and photographs before leaving the mountainous Sarajevo area and heading into Herzegovinian territory.
Again I must tritely repeat my previous endearing sentiments; this country is utterly fantastic and breathtaking in its landscape. I had enjoyed the mountainous region but getting back into the sweeping plains and valleys was a pleasure. It is with a heavy heart that I reflect on the decision to keep a travel diary; no flair of language or photographic skill could properly document the unbelievable beauty of this area and I am apologetic for failing to describe the countryside to the degree it deserves.
This leg of the journey saw me pass through some small towns and bigger cities that reminded me I was truly in the Baulkans; decrepit concrete housing and abandoned industrial sites were interspersed with traditional agricultural existences that spoke of a diverse and varied existence.
Outside of these urban areas the natural landscape continued to change and every square mile was loaded with character and intrigue. Some large clear lakes shaped the landscape and crafted a smooth winding path that was a delight to drive.
It must be noted that the drive was indeed a breeze (compared to previous experiences) and the Salmon ate up the asphalt with was tenacity; three narrow escapes from traffic police did little to slow my rapid progress through the country - it was just too damn enjoyable to drive.
After more than three and a half hours I emerged over a peak to look down on the beautiful city of Trebinje, nestled on the banks of the Trebisnjica River. The fortresses and ancient churches dotting the peaks of the hills that surrounded the town promised another spectacular experience of medieval European architecture.
Fortunately the city was more English friendly than Foca and I was able to discover a map that would point me in the direction of a hotel - there would be sleeping in the Salmon tonight! My accommodation was in the heart of the gorgeous medieval Old Town (as in, surrounded with old stone walls and gated archways protected by sentry towers to take aim at advancing invaders) and was run by some most friendly hosts. Deciding my sunburnt face needed further punishment, I stripped several layers of skin off with a disposable razor and then hit the streets for some dinner and wandering. As expected the food was fantastic and before long it became apparent that a favourite Bosnian pastime, perambulating around the city at night, was in full swing. Joining them, I spotted a beautiful illuminated church on a hill overlooking the town. Deciding that a final expedition to aggravate my bruised further was a good move, I hiked my way for an hour to the monument. The Orthodox Church was gorgeous in the night sky and allowed one to absorb the full panoramic experience of the town (I spotted a number of other brightly lit monuments to view at a later time.
A late return to the hotel after another trip through the old town convinced me that this gorgeous place deserved another day - with Dubrovnik a short drive away tomorrow would be a seaside excursion followed by more of Trebinje in the late afternoon.
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Comments

Cerina on

This is so much better than reading a lonely planet book or all those travel brochures. Stay safe.

kerrie on

no heavy heart here Andrew-you DO have a flair for writing. Keep it up!

Rick on

Envious of the rafting trip and the countryside looks spectacular.

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