On Split, Dubrovnik, Mostar and Hitchhiking a Taxi

I stayed two nights in Split, a pretty town with narrow streets and pleasant beaches. Two nights was definitely enough though. There are a lot of British tourists there, drinking, tanning and being tourists so its a bit more expensive then other cities.

While trying to hitchhike to Bosnia I got talking to two friendly Chilean guys at a petrol station. They were driving to Krka National Park and then after to Dubrovnik in a rented car. They were nice enough to let me tag along intrigued by the chance to see the National Park’s waterfalls (beautiful by the way).

Myself out for a dip at the waterfall
Myself out for a dip at the waterfall

Dubrovnik was similar to Split except the tourists were mostly older, pensioner ladies with the same short haircuts and digital cameras that they can’t quite work. A nice old town though even if the bands are playing U2 covers for the tourists in the bars rather than Croatian music.

Going from Split to Dubrovnik too you have to cross the border with Bosnia and then return into Croatia a couple miles later, Dubrovnik is separated from Croatia. Which leads to a delay since the Bosnian border police decided to search the rented car because the Chileans had South American Passports.

Mostar in Bosnia turned out to be far more interesting even if it lacked the Croatian beaches. I had stepped on some cunt of a fish in Dubrovnik that stuck thorns in my foot but I didn’t seek attention until I was in Bosnia (when the pain got sharper). The doctors had a good laugh at the tourist who brought them an injury from the sea even though I was many– miles from water.

The Bosnians were friendly if a little reserved. Except for the guy who offered me a drag of his joint then asked for money, fuck off ye dick.

The country is generally beautiful yet awkwardly named (I think Bosgovia would have been a better name, sounds like a Soviet theme park).

The highlight of the cheap, relaxed town of Mostar for me wasn´t the amazing bridge that locals jump off but rather the Snipers Building. An abandoned bank (I think), the bullet-holed walls leaked emotions. I’m’ not one for spirits and voodoo shite but there was something quite… something about that building. Go and you will feel it.

I done some binge drinking there too with an Auzzie and then a Serbian woman who owned a bar drove us around town after we just about drank her entire stock of bottled beers.

Hitchhiking in Bosnia is simple too, maybe the easiest country I have ever tried. The mix of Communist comradely and Muslim good-will makes it ideal for backpackers on a budget.

I simply walked out of Mostar in the Sarajevo direction and got picked up by the second car to pass. Bosnia has no motorways so hitchhiking is possible absolutely anywhere a car can pull in. Thumbing is faster there than the petrol station approach.

An elderly guy left me at town called Konjic I think, he didn’’t speak any English. I sat and admired this towns bridge too and ate a tuna sandwich. I wished a newly married couple taking photos on the bridge congratulations, they thanked me without smiling. A solid Eastern European effort, she looked beautiful, Bosnian girls are beautiful though probably hard to impress, if you could just make one smile though that probably would mean she loves you now.

When I starting hitchhiking again a Taxi pulled over straight away. I tried to wave him on saying I was hitchhiking.

“”Get in””

I hopped he knew more English and threw my bag on the back seat then jumped in.

“”No money, you to Sarajevo””

That’s how easy hitchhiking in Bosnia is. Even taxis will pick you up for free.

“”I am Bosnian and Muslim””

“”OK, I’m Irish””

“We have many economic and too political problems here””

“”OK””

““I do not speak Turkish””

“”OK””

““Some people talk, go back to Turkey Muslim, I am not Turkish, I do not speak Turkish, I have never been. Understand?””

“”Yes, OK””

This continued for the next hour, he slowly spoke English always constantly validating his Bosnian citizenship, I hardly spoke at all. It didn’t’ bother me though. I was on the way to Sarajevo the starting point of WW1, a city I always wanted to visit.

I think the only reason this old man became a taxi driver and learnt his English was to spit his angry words about Serbs and Turks on the windscreen to tourists. Nice guy though.

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Hitchhiking in Bosnia and Herzegovina Tips

Hitchhiking in Bosnia and Herzegovina Tips

Capital : Sarajevo

Population : Around 4 Million

Languages : Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian (all similar)

 English (A lot of Younger People in Mostar and Sarajevo)

Difficulty : Great for hitchhiking.

Money : BAM, Very Cheap for alcohol and cigarettes. Hostels for around 5 euro per night.

Hitchhiking in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a great and often the fastest mode of transport. The locals are friendly and the lack of motorways makes hitchhiking possible just about everywhere.

The most popular destinations for bag-packers are Sarajevo and Mostar.

Sarajevo the capital is a very historic city. This is where Franz Ferdinand was shot, sparking World War 1. The Muslim call to prayer echoes through the cobbled streets with old buildings which are riddled with bullet holes.

Mostar is a smaller town yet no less charming in its own right, its pride and joy is a curved bridge which locals can be seen jumping off.

Bosnia really offers a lot when it comes to eating out or clubbing on a budget too.

The recent Yugoslav Wars have left the population understandably scarred and split however into Catholic Croatians, Muslim Bosnians and Orthodox Serbians. It’s a topic best not approached seen as you can never be sure who you are speaking to, given how recent it is your likely to be talking to some who lost a close friend or relative.

Some people may like to educate you though on their pasts so just listen respectfully. You will not meet a single local who will speak positively of the current government.

Most of the towns and villages have very large graveyards, bullet-holes in buildings and certain areas of the countryside still have mines. In Mostar the sniper’s building is definitely worth a visit, it has an eerie atmosphere of despair from the battle in Mostar.

hitchhike bosnia

Don’t let the history deter you from visiting however, Bosnia is still one of my favourite destinations and there is little to no chance of encountering trouble on the road. The people here have seen enough trouble and are trying to move on with there lives peacefully, and are very open to tourists in my opinion.

I hitchhiked with many locals who spoke no English on my way from Sarajevo to Belgrade and had a great time.

Hitchhiking from Sarajevo to Belgrade, an Epic Journey

Hitchhiking from Sarajevo to Belgrade

Hitchhiking from Sarajevo to Belgrade was definitely one of the longest and best remembered days I have ever had on the road.hitchhike belgrade

Hitchhiking at least 10 different cars with fishermen, farmers, business men and all sorts of interesting characters from Bosnia and Serbia.

I even got set-up on a date with one Serbian man’s daughter in one car.

The road was rough for most of the journey with low traffic but it was possible to hitchhike anywhere (at least until the Serbia border anyway).

I hopped from village to village in Bosnia catching lifts in Mk2 VW Golfs and VW Camper Vans which make up 90% of the rural traffic there.

The rides in Serbia were longer and much faster. In either country no-one spoke English except for one Bosnian, sign language and a map had to just about suffice.

I left Sarajevo in the early morning walking along the road to Donja Ljubogosta which goes through a tunnel just outside the city which is dangerous enough to walk but can be done (I did it). The traffic might be less then impressed.

A man in a bus pulled over after the first tunnel to politely shout something at me, when he realized I was foreigner he was a sound ambassador for his new country and offered me a lift. The place where he collected me being marked in red below.hitchhike from sarajevo belgradeOverall Rating : OK, no space for a car to pull in

Waiting Time : Had been walking maybe 15 mins

After getting dropped off near a petrol station at Donja Ljubogosta I strolled up the road 100 meters to the fork in the road. There was a few locals here already hitchhiking and I noticed some Serbia flags hanging from houses from here on, this part of Bosnia is home to mainly Orthodox, Serbian speaking folk who consider themselves Serbian.

I joined the queue of locals hitchhiking on the road over the bridge (at the green mark on the map) looking all natural and not like a bag-packer at all I hope. A sign isn’t needed just wait until your turn to be picked up.

Overall Rating : Great, mostly local traffic. You could try a sign for “Beograd” (Belgrade in Serbian) but its better to take any lifts you get and just to keep moving.

Waiting Time : 10 mins

A man in a van delivering bread to a bakery (mind blowing stuff) brought me a few miles to Sumbolovac. Here I just walked to the edge of the village and stood with my thumb out again where there was space for a car to pull in.

It only took maybe 10 minutes before I was on the road again. If you get impatient just walk along the roads with your thumb out whenever you hear the rumble of some banged up car coming around the bend and hope its a “comrade”.

This pattern repeated itself maybe ten times until the Serbia border. I won’t go into detail on each place I caught a lift because I don’t remember each village and it really dosen’t matter. You can thumb anywhere and walk anywhere.

Some traffic will go maybe two or three villages and most will be going only a few miles, just keep taking lifts. Don’t be bothered if the car has no seat-belts (I gave up checking) or if the driver is chain smoking (most were). Definitely act normal if the driver is drinking beer, I got offered beer in two cars by drinking drivers. Dogs were common too on the passenger seats.

The one guy who spoke English had a very long chat with me and took me to his favourite fishing location. He had run to Italy as a teenager (now probably a hundred) and took a boat to goatAustralia where he worked for many years. He truly had an inspirational life, and gave me his number in case I ran into trouble on the road.

Beside me in the van though was a live goat which he had just bought and planned on killing because he recently got good news. I shit you not.

He began to rant about the divide up of Yugoslavia after the wars and got quite emotional. I sat and listened as he recalled the good old days when there was no border between him and his friends. Not the first or last man I’v meet on my journeys to praise the days under Tito’s Communist Dictatorship. I didn’t meet a single Bosnian who praised the current state of affairs once.

On the road from Sarajevo to Belgrade not only is there some beautiful nature but you will meet all sorts of interesting “Soviet” characters like him, some of whom have barely left their little villages in their entire life.

Some places appeared quite lawless too and one old man asked for money when he collected me, I refused though saying I had none and he understood enough. Offering a cigerette in these situations usually will suffice. Carry a packet even if you don’t smoke because every Serbian smokes.

To walk across the border you need to first walk over a bridge (a river runs along the border). I encountered no problems from the guards and wasn’t searched. I immediately stuck out my thumb again after the border and quickly got picked up.

This time by a man with one arm and one leg, my jaw dropped when he hopped out of the old merc to open my door. He managed to speed along the road maneuvering with only half a body! He didn’t speak English but I assume he unfortunately stepped on a landmine. He clearly wasn’t letting it hold him back in life though, what a mad bastard he was on the road! Drove like a rally driver I swear.

I got dropped off at a petrol station where my driver hopped out of the car to yell at the attendant in Serbian to find me a lift to Belgrade. Possibly scared of the one legged Schumaker hitchhike belgrade to sabache quickly found me a lift with a guy who was heading to Novi-Sad.

The “not so chatty because I’m always on my phone guy” dropped me at the toll booth on the E70 motorway to Belgrade. An excellent and popular location to hitchhike to Belgrade that wasn’t a completely random spot on the side of the road.

Overall Rating : Great for Belgrade, just stand on the other side of the booth and a driver will collect you after they pay.

Waiting Time : 15 mins

The old man who collected me had no English but quite luckily his daughter did. He rang her up and gave me the phone. What a Gentleman if I might say, I had a date set up for the next day in the city. If you have ever been to Serbia you will know that 99.9% of the girls are extremely hot, so the odds were staked in my favor to land a humdinger of a lady, God I love Eastern European genetics.

All in all it took a full day to make this journey and it was without a doubt my most exciting day on the road that Summer. It was my first experience of the more Soviet parts of Europe too, where lifts are simple to get but no-one speaks any English. Offering a cigerette is all the communication that is needed however to become lifelong comrades.

The Balkan countries truly are scattered with beautiful nature, women and friendly people throughout the countryside.

Very very cheap too, cheap as chips in fact.

Before : Hitchhiking from Mostar to Sarajevo

Hitchhiking from Mostar to Sarajevo

Hitchhiking from Mostar to Sarajevo

I was gutted to start hitchhiking from Mostar to Sarajevo but the journey must go on! And so it did to the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina “Sarajevo”, where Franz Ferdinand was famously shot starting World War 1.Mostar Hitchhike

Bosnia is a super-easy country to hitchhike due to the friendly nature of the locals combined with the fact you can hitchhike anywhere (no real motorways).

So to get out of Mostar simply walk along the Sarajevo road (by the bus station) until you see a decent spot where the traffic (mk2 VW Golfs) are moving without much speed and can pull in easily. I caught a lift with the second car to pass.

He was an elderly local and he drove me as far as Konjic. A town halfway between Sarajevo and Mostar.

Overall Rating : Great

Waiting Time : 5 Mins (less possibly)konjic3

On arrival in Konjic I bought myself a roll and a can a tuna then went for a stroll around.

I definetly stuck out here with my blonde hair a lot more then the touristy Mostar. The town had a nice bridge similar to the one in Mostar but the river looked too shallow for jumping in unfortunately.

When I was bored of Konjic I returned to the main road which passes through the town towards Sarajevo from Mostar and began hitchhiking at the Sarajevo side of the town. It only took about 10 minutes before I caught a lift.

A Sarajevo taxi driver offered to take me back with him for free to Sarajevo, just an example of the hospitality you can find in this little country.Hitchhike konjic Sarajevo

Overall Rating : Great

Waiting Time : 10 Mins

 

 

Before : Hitchhiking from Split to Dubrovnik

After : Hitchhiking from Sarajevo to Belgrade