Saturday, 9 August 2014

bosnian roadtrip #1

before leaving | iPhone 4s + VSCOcam

where are you going again?

“Bosnia”. seeing the facial expressions that our answer evoked almost made me rethink our destination. yes, Sarajevo is not a typical summer destination for Italians, but, considering the number of “why?” that followed my answer, you’d think that Bosnia and Herzegovina is not a touristic destination at all, which is absolutely not true: many foreigner license plates move around Bosnian roads during summer, Mostar and Sarajevo’s tiny streets are crowded with tourists, and we met many young travellers from all around the world in all the hostels and guest houses where we stayed.

so, the surprise was not about the touristic value of the destination, but about the shadow of the war that continues to follow the name of this complicated country. i was a kid in the nineties, and the Bosnian war was one of the many wars seen on the tv news, but nearer, and therefore more real. it’s not guilt, the feeling that arouse when we think about the Bosnian war in 1992-1996, but it looks a lot like it. we were dreaming the European Union dream, and genocides were taking place a few kilometers outside our disappearing borders.

anyway, this is not the place, nor i am an adequately qualified person to talk about this. i’d try to mention the war as little as possible during this trip’s reportage, because that was exactly my goal: to build another Bosnia in my consciousness. a big mosaic made of landscapes, faces, songs, stories, animals, past, future, architecture, myths, books, religions, recipes. a place that was touched by a bloody war but that’s not its only feature.

this, to know Bosnia better, to be able to think about it regardless of the war, was one of the reasons why we chose Bosnia as our destination, but not the only one. other reasons had been more practical: near, with a good ferry boat connection, doable by lambretta, cheap; others more intangible: we’ve heard a lot about Bosnia and Sarajevo during the past months. as the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the 1st world war (yeah, another war.), Sarajevo was on the news for a while, being the casus belli scene (archiduke Franz Ferdinand was killed on Sarajevo’s latin bridge, triggering the diplomatic crisis between Austro Hungarian empire and Serbia). moreover, my sister just graduated with a thesis on a project developed in Bosnia, where she took two field trips.

Rijeka harbour | nikon f-801 + fujicolor 200
planning & packing

the travel planning took some time. i just knew the name of some of the most known locations (Sarajevo, Mostar, Medjugorje, Srebrenica) and some tips by my sister. besides that, my knowledge (both geographical and historical) was fragmentary and vague. i bought the lonely planet guidebook, a classic book of the Bosnian literature (the bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric), and then did some online researches on the locations that impressed me the most on the guidebook. also google map and a “real” map (we used the Freytag & Berndt Bosnia and Herzegovina) were absolutely essential during both the planning stage and on the road. the final itinerary was a compromise of what we want to visit and what was compatible with our ride, time availability, kilometers, and budget.

the first hitch is the driving license issue. in Italy, you can ride a 125 cc motorcycle using the regular driving license, the one normally used for cars. in many other countries, a motorcycle license is required, too. before travelling through Balkans countries you need to have the proper license.

i firstly used airbnb and couchsurfing to find accommodation. i wanted the chance to have direct contact with the local people. we chose to not bring the tent to satisfy both this need and the space’s one (lambretta is not the most capacious of the means of transport). couchsurfing was useful to have some email exchanges with interesting people, but in the end did not provide accommodation, cause our choosing of dates overlapped with the holidays of the respondents. then, i also use

our only special request was to have a private space (courtyard or garage) to safely park the lambretta.

the packing list was the tighter (and lighter) version of the one illustrated here. we brought two backpacks (placed one on the front and one on the back) and one shoulder bag. the backpacks had some empty space for shopping, too. to travel by motorcycle like we did, i suggest to bring a pair of (long and confy ) riding pants and shoes to wear only on the road, to change as soon as you arrive at your destination. a piece of marseille soap to wash clothes can help saving some space. for us, a portable battery charger (the iPhone was our GPS, too) and a brief summary of useful addresses and telephone numbers kept on the shoulder bag came in handy. 

bosnian roadtrip facts & figures


first day – from home to Rijeka (Croatia), 216 km. overnight ferry boat to Split (Croatia)
second day – visit to Diocletian’s palace in Split. from Split to Neum (Bosnia and Herzegovina), 169 km
third day – from Neum to Mostar, with a stop in Blagaj, 90 km
fourth day – from Mostar to Sarajevo, 131 km
fifth day – visit to Sarajevo
sixth day – visit to Sarajevo’s tunnel museum. from Sarajevo to Jajce, with a stop in Travnik, 171 km
seventh day – from Jajce to Split, 207 km. overnight ferry boat to Rijeka
eighth day – from Rijeka to Vittorio Veneto, 220 km

map & tickets


Split view from the Diocletian's palace | nikon f-801 + fujicolor 200

Split is a city hugged by the Adriatic sea. palms and glimmering waters surround the eye catching, marble walls of the Diocletian’s Palace {Dioklecijanova palača}, heart of the city and UNESCO world heritage site, built in the 4th century AD.
“palace” can be a misleading word to identify the massive construction. it was the residence of the roman emperor, but  it resembles more a fortress than a palace: high walls enclose a tangled sequence of alleys, inner courtyards, houses, churches, temples, towers and squares.

we arrived in Split at 7 in the morning, so we had the chance to explore the palace when the many shops, bars and restaurants were closed, and the massive crowd hasn’t invaded it yet.  the atmosphere was almost unreal. it was a bright morning. from the top of the bell tower, we watched the city waking up.

to find out some local tips about where to go and how to enjoy Split, take a look at the Use-it Europe map dedicated to this city.

Split view from the Diocletian's palace | nikon f-801 + fujicolor 200
i hope this first post about our bosnian roadtrip is not too overwhelming! can't wait to show you more about it.


  1. i was following your bosnia post on FB. it's such a far away land for me and only thing i know about it is war. But i am so looking forward to more photos. It sounds like amazing place.

    1. thank you Pratiksha for following us during the whole trip :)
      the war was almost the only thing i knew about Bosnia too, it was time to learn something!

  2. Your travel posts are always so accurate and interesting, dear Silvia!
    Can't wait to see and read more!

    1. thanks polly :) i don't have much time to post lately, but i'm trying to be accurate :)

  3. Looking very forward to see and read more of your trip!

    1. thanks nancy, i hope you'll like the next post too!

  4. i had written this huge post about your trip and blogger made it disappear...grrr
    wonderful documentation my dear about this place on earth being discovered and praised :)

    1. ahh i hate when blogger does that!

      anyway, thank you sara ♥

  5. It is like reading a very good book, your way of telling your travel stories is amazing :)

    1. oh Katie, you're a darling, thank you! this is such a nice comment, it makes my blush.

      i think travelling is like reading a very good book :)


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