Balkans 2016 – Day 51 : Zenica to Travnik, Bosnia

Alen tells me that there is nothing much to see if I head north towards Hungary and I should head to a town call Travnik and Jajce north west of Zenica.  Travnik is well known for its old fort and blue water spring and Jajce is famous for a waterfall within the city. So last night I was conflicted on which direction I should go. To Budapest and follow the Danube cycle route to Basel or towards Zagreb and see what happens. One is predictable and safe the other is totally the opposite. I planned to sleep over it. 

Next morning I woke up to winter wonderland. There was a snow dump last night and it is the first time in my tour so far that I have seen snow. After checking the weather the report seems to indicate that it will be grey, snowing and cold. I did not want to stay one more day as the forecast for the week isn’t any better so I decided to push on regardless. But where. 

After a nice breakfast of local goat and smoke cheese and toast, I made up my mind  to Travnik and be unpredictable and see what happens. There are two ways to get to Travnik one is along the river which means a highway or one across the mountain via a rural route which is shorter by 9KM. Guess which route I took ? The mountain one of course since it’s shorter. Who cares if there’s climbing involved. What goes up must come down right ? 

Well it was tough and messy. The climb was alright but with the overnight snow dump there is still a fair bit of snow on the road and I get an ocassionaly splat of wet grimey snow from passing vehicles. The bonus is there was some incredible vistas all round from snow covered rooftops of quaint villages against a stunning backdrop of white capped mountains. This was worthwhile. 

After about 15 or 16 KM of climbing to the peak of around 800m, downhill ! The downhill was quick and thankfully not too uncomfortable even though it continued to snow here and there. 

I stopped for half an hour in a coffee shop right after the downhill to warm up. 

Eventually I reached the town of Travnik in time for lunch. I had the best meat Burek ever. It was fresh from the wood fired pan and was fantastic. I had it with a yoghurt drink like the locals. After that I went to look for the blue water spring and then visited the old fort. The fort was closed by the time I got there so I only managed to see it from the outside. 

After that I went to shop for my dinner and ate something simple before turning in for the night. The forecast for tomorrow seems to be good. Well not sunshine but at least no snow or rain. It will be around 70 KM to Jajce via the river and valley and 41KM via the mountains. Guess which route I took ? Stay tuned tomorrow. 

Lions Project : RM 235.20

Hey its cold and snowing
Goodthing they cleared mosf of the snow from the road
Snow everywhere
Time to take a rest anc warm up
Stunning views all round
Stunning winter wonderland
Views like this makes the climb and uncomfortable weather worthwhile
You can see the fort in almost every corner of the town
Thats the famous blue water spring
One of the more beautiful mosque i have seen so far
Mosque corridor
very beautiful mosque in center of Travnik
Stunning door to the mosque
i am happy. lunch will be served soon
Thats my burek cooking
Best meat burek so far. piping hot from the pan
Got a great view anyway
The old fort Travnik. Hiked up to the to but closed for the day
Travnik is a quaint little town
A reminder for us

Balkans 2016 – Day 50 : Sarajevo to Zenica, Bosnia

Wow already 50 days on the road. That went past fast. Well you know what they say about time when you are having fun. 

The weather though was not so fun these days. Another moody and wet day today. At least it’s not raining too heavily and not too cold. 

After a quick breakfast and a strong cup of coffee, I checked out of the hostel and pushed off towards Zenica. Why Zenica? Well it’s not really a tourist spot and there is really nothing special there. However since I had plans to head towards Budapest in Hungary to join the Danube cycle path, Zenica happens to be along the route. Also I have a host on Couchsurfing agreeing to host me in Zenica. 

It was a grey day the whole time I was riding. So not too many pretty pictures. Also the route is mainly along the great Bosna River, which was flowing rapidly. The river was also muddy looking. 

I did come across a hot spring right by the road side which was interesting. 

Upon arriving at Zenica, I started looking for my host’s apartment. My GPS brought me to the right area but there were so many blocks so I had a little trouble locating the host’s block which was 13B. I was at Block 7. After checking to no success in the pizzeria I bumped into someone in a bicycle and he said he would help me look for the block. He went around asking the locals there and finally got the location of the block. He then said he would bring me to the block. With his help I managed to get to the host apartment eventually. 

My host is a young Bosnian chap named Alen Tataravic working from home and mostly doing projects for the UN. He stays in the apartment with his brother who is away touring South East Asia. Interestingly his brother was in Malaysia 2 weeks ago. After settling in to my own room, I  relax and did a bit of surfing while waiting for Alen who graciously offered to cook dinner. And it was a fantastic dinner of baked fresh caught river trout and potatoes. After dinner we had a couple rounds of beer and Rakiya before heading out to town. 

Alen and I went to a pub where his friend is launching a charity photo exhibition. There we met some of his friends. One of his friend called Ajlah who is a radio host at Radio Active Zenica 88.5. She asks if she could do a quick interview for her show next week. I said ok. So I could be heard on air next week in Zenica, Bosnia ! Stay tuned. 

After that we moved to another pub to try out the honey Rakiya which tasted quite ok. Anyway after that we headed back to Alen’s place to call it the night. 

Tomorrow I hope the weather is kind. 

Lions Project : RM 232.00

the swelling and rapids of Bosna river
Criss crosing the Bosna whole day long.
Bosna river again
i wonder what happened here.
The whole area very industrial. Zenica is a steel mill town. has one mill taken over by Mittal from India but only 25% capacity.
Lunch time by river Bosna
Road side Hot Spring
Mushroom soup
Alen Tataravic the host.
Fresh caught river fish cooked by Alen
Huge family size beer in plastic bottle very popular in the Balkans.
Annoucing the opening of the photo exhibition
The pub where the photo exhibition is
Radio host , Alen & me.
Apparantly the only significant thing for sightseeing in Zenica

Balkans 2016 – Day 49 : Sarajevo, Bosnia 

After coming this far I thought I should spend sometime to explore Sarajevo, the capital and biggest and most well known city in Bosnia. I understand that this city has a lot of history. Most infamously known as the place where WW1 was triggered and most recently the city that has experience the longest period of siege during the war of 1993-96. 

The city is a mishmash of Ottoman and European n sometimes you feel as though parts are like Turkey and then some parts in a typical city in Western Europe. 

As I roam briefly around the old city and new city, there are little evidence left of the violence from the recent war. I saw more of that in Mostar. 

Today I decided to take a tram and try to look for the Sarajevo main station. This was recommended to me by a fellow traveller at the hostel I am staying in. Unfortunately I took the wrong tram and did not find the stations all. However it was fun seeing the city from the tram and also getting a feel of how the locals commute on a daily basis. I did however manage to buy a bungee cord which I needed badly. So not. Wasted trip at all. 

After the tram ride I returned to the old town to visit  a gallery that is featuring the story of the war and the genocide of the Bosnian Muslims. The exhibition was a combination of very interesting and sometimes graphic photographs and videos that tells the story of the people who lived through that horrific time. I spent almost 2 hours there. 

After that I had a Donner for lunch and continued exploring the old city before going back to the hostel to rest. Tomorrow forecast is rain again. I am hopeful again that it will not be too severe to hamper my progress towards my next destination. 

Lions Project : Same as Day 48

I do not know what building is this but looks Moorish and very interesting
Latin Bridge built in 16th century The place where Franz. Ferdinand was assasinated by Gavirllo Princip that triggered WW1
Sarajevo Old Town called Bascarsija
Many interesting shops and also old buildings.
Kurshumli Madrasah. Now a museum
The Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque
Cathedral of Jesus’. Sacred Heart built in 1889
Very interesting alleys in the Old Town
Lets go on a tram ride. this is one of the newer ones.
This tram is rather beaten up and still in use
Taslihan Stone Caravanserai
If you want to know more about the war , thiis is the one exhibition you should visit.
Multimedia presentations and video
Names and date of birth of all the 8 thousand plus Bosnian muslim mostly men mass massacred during the war
Vijecnica , City Hall and National Library. Built in 1889 and was burned downed during the 1992 war
Many brass ware on sale all over old town
Sweets galore
More sweets

Balkans 2016 – Day 48 : Konjic to Sarajevo, Bosnia

Weather forecasted to be raining but I was determined to make it to Sarajevo. In any case the whole week is forecasted to be wet. So no point waiting it out. I am hoping that the rain would be light and sparse. Just as I was about to leave , the rain became heavy so I decided to wait it out a while. Once the rain stopped to a drizzle I quickly pushed off in hope that it stays that way.

Well it did for awhile and then the rain started again. The wind also became gusty. Fortunately for the first time i experienced tail wind and in a few instance the tail wind actually propelled me forward up a climb a few times.  That was fun. I had to stop a few times and seek shelter because the rain was too heavy.

Around 30km to Sarajevo I took a coffee before continuing. After that the sky cleared and the sun started to appear. I am also making great time as its was mostly downhill all the way to Sarajevo. I arrived in Sarajevo around 1230 noon just in time for lunch.

For the first time I saw a fast food chain in the Balkans. I was tempted to  grab a Big Mac but resisted and went for Cervapi instead. I was happy I did.

Sarajevo looks interesting. I hope to explore more tomorrow

Lions Project : RM 223.60

One of the many train bridges I passed today.
Trying to get nice picture in bad weather
Yay sunshine
Time for a coffee break. 0.5 Euro only
Greeted by a bicycle lane when arriving Sarajevo
At last the mighty American junk food appears.
Shall I or Shall I not ?
I chose this.
Yummy. All for 2 Euros
Bike for rent. I did not see any on the road yet.
There are many museums in Sarajevo. I don’t think I will be able to visit most.
Very dramatic. This is non photoshopped and direct from my iPhone. Welcome to Sarajevo.

Balkans 2016 – Day 47 : Mostar to Konjic, Bosnia

Forecast for today in Mostar is rain. I was however determined to ride as long as the rain is not too heavy and wind not too gusty. It was not. Actually the day started rather grey but no rain. So after the usual breakfast from the host, I pushed off. The outside temperature was a crisp 10c with a slight headwind. The skies were however quite grey. After about 20KM or so the rain started. Most of the the time just light drizzle. It was nothing I could not handle so I continued cycling. 

The route was actually quite pleasant and scenic. Even with the grey background the landscape was stunning. Around 30KM mark I met a couple of tourers from Germany cycling from opposite direction. They are heading to Mostar. We chatted awhile before going separate ways. The German couple have been on tour I believe for 4 months already. You can check them out on

After another 15KM or so I was waved down by some truckers by the side of the road. They wanted to offer me food. I thought why not. So I pulled over to say hello to them. It seems that there are truckers from Turkey hauling stuff from Germany to Iran. One of the truckers seemed very amused that I would cycle from Istanbul. They offered me some Turkish soup and bread and also gave me a grapefruit and giant orange to take away.  That was so fun. After I finished my soup they packed up and left. 

Stomach full and warm I continued my journey towards Konjic which would be my target town to spend the night before Sarajevo. 

The rest of the journey was not too uncomfortable as the rain was light and it was only slightly cold. I stopped for lunch and had a wood fired Burek with cheese and 2 cups of Bosnian Coffee. 

I reached Konjic before 3 pm and was going around looking for the hostels I planned to check out. However I could not find any of them as there were no signboards at all. Finally I found one near the train station. 

Had a simple dinner and a beer and then replace both my front and rear brakes before turning in for an early rest. 

Tomorrow I plan get to Sarajevo. Hoping for mild weather. 

Lions Project : RM 217.70

Grey grey day.
One of the many tunnels that i would pass today. some short like this some as long as 1 KM
Moody but dramatic
The truckers i met that offered me soup and bread
Delicious soup
The Turkish Truckers
All ready to continue their journey
Bye bye
Superb vistas
Strike a dramatic pose
Bridge for trains
its great cycling along river and gorges
Fantastic scenery
Some hill climbs are worthwhile
Wood fired Burek
Yummy wood fired cheese burek
Fantastic Bosnian coffee
No wild camping for me today
Stari Most Konjic
First sight of snow capped mountains

Balkans 2016 – Day 46 : Mostar, Bosnia

It was such a beautiful day that I decided to stay one more day to enjoy Mostar. After a nice breakfast provided by the host, I went to the bus station looking for the bus to a village called Blagaj around 15KM from Mostar.  After checking with the bus counter  I was pointed to the right bus stop to wait. The next bus was 1130 and it was only 10 so I decided to walk to the old town to have a look. It was a nice walk and the old town was very pretty especially the famous bridges. 

I did not manage to finish seeing the sights because I had to go back to the bus station to catch the bus. I plan to return later in the day to continue with the tour of the old town Mostar. 

Bus fare was around 1 Euro one way. Blagaj is a famous placed where the Tekija Blagaj Devrish house is situation at the source of the river Buna build end 15th Century. It’s a very scenic and beautiful place. I took many pictures there. 

After waiting for a long time for the return bus to Mostar, I was finally back in Old town Mostar. I continued to soak in the sites of Mostar and had a nice local lunch. I took many pictures before returning back to the hostel to rest. 

Tomorrow I will head to Konjic which is halfway between Mostar and Sarajevo. Rain is forecasted for tomorrow. I hope it will be kind to me. 

Lions Project : Same as Day 45

Nice homecooked breakfast from the host
The local bus to Blagaj
Biscevica House built in 1635
Koski Mehmet Pasa Mosque
Koski Mehmet Pasa Mosque
Inside Koski Mehmet Pasa Mosque
Old town Mostaf
Old town Mostaf
View from the bridge
Stari Most ( Old Bridge) built 1566
Fortress at Blagaj
Buna River at Blagaj
Stara Derviska Tekija (Dervish Monastery )
Quaint and beautiful Blagaj village
Back at Olc Town Mostar
Lunch time
Another view of the famous Stari Most
Kriva Cuprija ( Crooked Bridge) circa 1558

Balkans 2016 – Day 45 : Doljani to Mostar, Bosnia

What a brilliant campsite we had. I had a great sleep and it was not too cold. I think around 11C at night and morning. Since Mostar was only 40KM away we were not so much in a rush and so we took our time to have breakfast and decamped. We finally left the camp site at around 830am. The weather looked ok with scattered clouds here and there. So we were hopeful for fine weather. 

The day started off slightly cloudy and I was hopeful that it would be another good weather for riding. I was totally wrong. Just 20KM before Mostar, the weather turned and dark clouds began to loom and then slight drizzle. As I was approaching Mostar it began to get heavier with very gusty wind. I was determined to make it to the intended hostel where I was supposed to meet Fumi. So I pushed on. By now I was getting very cold but my rain jacket thankfully kept me dry. I was using MapsMe offline map to route me to the hostel. As I approached the building I remembered from reviews that this place was hard to find as there was no sign boards. Anyway I saw a lady with shopping bags and umbrella squatting at the stair case and she waved at me upon seeing me and I waved back and said Dada Hostel ? She said yes. Oh great Fumi must have got in first and told her to wait for me. Well it turned out that this was not the case. Fumi was nowhere to be seen. It was just pure luck and coincidence that she was resting from the rain after grocery shopping and saw me looking around so she figured I must be looking for her place. 

Anyway hostel is in a private home and it’s nice warm and homely. Also it cost 5 Euros per night including breakfast. A great bargain. After taking a quick shower I went to meet up with Fumi. It seems he couldn’t find Dada’s place so he checked into another hostel nearby. 

We met up to wish each other safe travels and goodbye as Fumi will be resting in Mostar for 5 days and also to fix his bike as his front hubs is giving way. He will be heading south back to Croatia and eventually to Portugal. 

I rewarded my self with a nice Bosnian Grilled veal liver and did a quick walk around and saw many buildings with scars form the war and genocide that happen here less than 20 years ago. The weather was still bad. It’s still windy and raining, so I decided to go back to the hostel to rest and catch up on the blog and also to plan my route. 

After awhile the host cooked dinner for me and it was veal liver again. I am now properly stuffed. I am staying indoors for the rest of the night as its cold and windy. I would love to spend more time to look around Mostar. Maybe I can do that tomorrow if weather permits. 

Lions Project : RM 210.30

Good Morning Bosnia
A perfect campsite
Dark and grey day
So gloomy
Wet wet wet
Welcome snack
Gloomy weather
Lunchtime. Veal liver
many buildings still riddled with bullet holes from the war
bullet riddled
Scar of war

Balkans 2016 – Day 44 : Dubrovnik,Croatia to Doljani, Bosnia

Last night Fumi and I discussed the route plan as we both wanted to head away from the touristic and expensive Croatian coast to Bosnia. We had both wanted to get to Mostar in Bosnia. Since it’s over 130KM away we wisely decided that it would be too crazy to do it in one day. Fumi after researching found a great valley route to get to Mostar. Valley route means flat. OK there are no such thing as flat in the Balkans. Flattish is a better description.  The ride plan is to get to a town in Croatia called Metkovic which is 90km plus from Dubrovnik which is hard riding but doable. We will ride along the coast till Neum and Opuzen before going off the coast and towards inland. 

We decided we should push off earlier as days are getting shorter and we want to reach our destination well before sunset. So we target to set off at 730am. 

After a quick breakfast and then packing we were ready to push off. We are kinda riding and not riding together. Since our pace is so different, it was decided that the best way is we just agree to meet up at Metkovic and decide what to do next. 

I pushed off first, however I took the wrong turn and ended but taking a short city tour before getting on the right track. After awhile I bumped into Fumi taking photos of the bridge.  So for the rest of the day we were taking turns catching up with each other all the way till Metkovic. On the way to Metkovic along the coast we passed by some fantastic vistas again. Even as we go in land and over some hill passes we were rewarded with great landscapes. Today is also the day that I crossed the 2,000 KM mark. Wow. Already ? 

As planned we met up at Metkovic and discussed whether we should get a motel to share or go over to Bosnia to wild camp. The Bosnia border is only around 3 KM from where we are. We decided that we should camp since it nice weather. So we stocked up at a supermarket for dinner and breakfast and proceeded to cross the border. 

The border crossing was smooth and quick. We immediately started to look for a place to camp and found something nice just a short distance from the border control and scouted there a while. Just as we were about to settle in, a border police came over and eventually told us we could not camp here since its less than 500m from the border control and asked us to camp somewhere else. 

We finally found a place around 2 Km away along the river and camped there. It was a fantastic find as the river and surrounding area was peaceful and stunning. 

After setting up our tents, cooked and ate our dinner we turned in early at around 8pm. Tomorrow we will ride to Mostar which is around 40KM. Easy peasy ? Actually not so. Why ? You will find out in my next blog. 

Lions Project : RM 206.10

Took the wrong turn but rewarded with great views
Never mind the climb. view is great
i nee to get across that bridge
Bridge crossing
View from the bridge
Wide open scenic roads
Rest stop view
Manage to catch up to super Fumi
Clouds are building up
Another scenic stop
Amazing fortresses folks build those days.
Skies are clearing up
Aiyah. Uphill.
Fumi again. you noticed his slipar ?
Yay. Downhill.
I am at the peak finally.
Fumi again
Loads of mandarin orange for sale
Welcome to Bosnia
Bosnia border control
First potential camp site but we were chased away
Picture perfect la
Like painting
Our perfect campsite
This marks my spot
Simple but hearty chicken soup

Balkans 2016 – Day 43 : Dubrovnik, Croatia

A free day to explore the famous Dubrovnik. This place is very touristy and things are mighty expensive. So instead of taking an expensive cable car ride up to the peak to view Kings Landing aka Old Town walls of Dubrovnik, I hiked up instead. It’s free and good exercise too. I also left my bike in the hostel so I don’t have to worry about leaving if in public places. I took the local bus instead to the trail head.
The hike up to the top took me almost an hour with photo stops but it was pleasant. The trail is mostly steep at sections with at least 10 300 m or more long switchbacks before you reach the top. Half way, I bumped into Fumi yet again already done with the top and decending.  The view from the top is fantastic and well worth the hard hike. Decending took only 35 minutes or so.

After the hike I decided to visit the old town and take some pictures. Many many tourist but I did not see any Malaysians this time. You have to pay pay pay for everything include the walk on top of the city walls so I skipped everything and went back to the hostel to cook dinner.

Fumi and I cooked our dinner separately but we had dinner together. Chit chatted a while and also discussed about our route plans for tomorrow. We are both heading to Mostar in Bosnia. It seems that there is an easier route to Mostar and Fumi recommends that we should take that route. I couldn’t agree more. So it will be likely that we will both be riding together tomorrow towards Mostar. We will not reach Mostar as if is around 143KM away but our target is Metkovic which is around 90KM away. We decided to push off around 730am so that we have enough daylight to ride. It’s now getting dark at 530pm and sun starts to set at 430pm. So as I head towards the north not only the day is getting shorter the temperature is also dropping.

Lions Project : Same as Day 42

More steep stairs but interesting alleys and houses
Fantastic view of Kings Landing
Another great view of the old city walls
more fantastic views as you grind uphill
Fumi strikes again.
Buggies for hire
Rocket disgiused as communication tower?
Expensive option to take in the view
See I made it to the top
Long walk back down
Tourist galore
My packed lunch view
OK time to walk down
Dubrovnik old city wall

Balkans 2016 – Day 42 : Kotor, Montenegro to Kings Landing, Croatia

In anticipation of a long ride today, I woke up early and had breakfast before checking out the hostel in Kotor. As I was leaving the old town I bumped into a bunch of Malaysian tourist who wanted to take photos with me. As I did not display my Malaysian flag because it’s broken, I wonder how they knew I was Malaysian. I actually asked one of them and they say I looked like one. Hmm is that a good thing or bad? I wonder. 

Anyway 10 photos snaps after I was able to push off. Apparently the folks who took photos with me told me that they are a part of a Malaysian tourist contingent of 3 bus load strong. It seems they are all on a Balkan tour. 

I decide to take the shortest route out of Kotor which involves taking a ferry. It was a great choice. Although the ferry ride was short it was fun. It costed me 1 Euro. 

After that I continued to hug to coast with some great views of the coast again. The hill climb started as I approached the border control. 

Clearance at both sides was smooth and easy. There was hardly any traffic so if was quick. 

It was around 46Km after the border control to Kings Landing aka Dubrovnik but it was a hard 46KM. A lot of climbing but downhill was not as many. The last 4KM was a pain with 90 % climbing and just the last KM of so downhill to center of Dubrovnik. My iPhone was acting up and it bricked so I was not able to access my maps to find the hostel I booked into. 

I went to a cable car ticket counter and asked if the ticketing lady can help me locate the hostel. I gave her the address and she managed to give me some direction to the hostel. 

It was almost 430 and getting dark. The sun now sets around 530pm. As I was stopped at the traffic light I began to look at the physical map that the cable car lady gave me. A passer by motorcyclist asked if I needed help. I told them yes S I was looking for the hostel. They say they know the hostel as they live just next door. So they gave me further directions and I was able to find it without any problems. 

When I arrived there was no one except another guess from Mexico. After awhile someone came and checked me in. And then guess who popped up? Fumi ” Killa” !  This is now getting into more than just coincidence. 

Later after settling in, I went to grocery store to buy dinner and a bottle of cheap Solvenian wine for 2 Euros to reward myself. 

After dinner., I updated my blog and also reply some email messages before turning in for the night.Tomorrow I will explore the old town Dubrovnik aka Kings Landing. 

Lions Project : RM 195.60

Ferry ride only 1 Euro one way.
Enjoying the ferry ride

Goodbye Montenegro
Border Control Montenegro
Hello Croatia
Croatian welcome.
Aiseh whyvso many hill climbs one ?
Hello Kings Landing
Help ! I can’t shake this guy off.