A new country means a small amount of time to adapt... After we arrived in Mostar, capital city of Hercegovina, we feel a little bit lost at first. After 9 days of nature and camping, ending up in a city and in a new country is not very easy. And it's even less easy when the crowded town in summer is completely empt in the middle of november. And even less easy when it is national holiday and muslim new year's eve , and when everyone is having a family dinner. When there is not really any place to visit and no tourists around because it's cold. When you don't have a guide book, when you feel like you have a 'tourist' sticker on your forehead, and when you are not prepared to see so many ruins from the war...
After 2 days of just walking around, of admiring the old bridge (stari most) that was re-built after the war, of laundry and cooking (Julien will remember his hamburger), we start to fit in here, and to meet the right persons.
The town is cut in two distinct parts : the western croation and catholic part, and the muslim bosniac community in the East part.
Without even noticing it, we ended up staying 5 days in Mostar.
At the Abrasevic cultural center, we feel like home. We come here to have coffee and beer, we chat with Tina who is in charge of the events her, and we enjoy the concerts. We are hosted by Mariafirst, and then by Miloš. We taste the local wine. We learn about how to enjoy this country.
Finally we leave Mostar in the direction of Sarajevo!
Some monochrome days, we had some and we will have more. These grey dayswaiting for the rain. Kilometers seem to be longer when you wait... Rain? No rain? So we ride as much as we can and as long as it's dry. The clouds are getting thicker and a warm southern wind is pushing us North. It is warm and humid, and we feel like we are breathing the air that came all the way accross the sea, bringing us colours and visions of sunny Maghreb. The road is snaking along the Neretva river. The clouds are reflecting into the water and giving it a deep blue colour. The sky is getting more close to our heads, and we lower our heads, as if we were afraid to bang them in the low ceiling. We find a shelter in a bar, and pouring rain starts to fall. It's raining so much that we wonder if it is going to stop someday. We ride between the drops, set the tent, eat, fall asleep. A monochrome day.
This night, the wind shakes the tent like it never happenned. We wake up at 8:00 AM. It's raining hard. It might stop, so we just go back to sleep and wait. After 5 hours of waiting, that's it : we pack our stuff and go to the next vilage to catch a bus to SArajevo.
In Sarajevo, we find a nice and cosy hostel. Being in a hostel means meeting other travellers, chat, share our experience. Some are travelling for a week, some have been on the roadfor more than a year. We enjoy the showers, the kitchen, we dry up our tent and our clothes that are still wet since Mostar.
Sarajevo is a multicultural city. Up on the olympic mountains you can't miss the orthodox churches, catholic churches
and the mosques that show their minaret all around the town. From up there, it's the best place to listen to the call for prayer mixed with the sound of the churches bells. The Jerusalem of
Europe is a mix of culture between Europe and Asia. Once under Ottoman influence, once under austro-hungarian empire.
The city is moving, night and day. Restaurants are full any time of the day, with čevap and bureks, beer or turkish coffee.
In SArajevo we learn a lot about the war. The four years of siege have scarred all the citizens of the city. During the visit of the tunnel, Nedim shares his experience and his emotions about this dirty war. How the serbs persecuted the city and the people, how bullets and mortars menaced lives at any time of the day, how the international community witnessed this massacre without moving, how people had to queue for water, brad and humanitarian supplies.
It's time for us to leave Sarajevo. We ar now heading to Serbia, to Novi SAd to be more specific. About 300 kilometers, or 5 days of cycling. We are excited to be back on the saddles but we fear something that everyone is warning us about : the snow that could come any day.
But the magic of travelling happens... Of course we have a little rain, a little sweat up the hills, but we meet great
people. During 5 days we are fed, we sleep in warm beds, we are offered coffee, beer and of course Rakija (Julien will remember it for a very long time!),
When we cross the border to Serbia, we really feel like we will be back here to hear more stories, listen to more music, and to drink more Rakija!