Saturday, 21 June 2014

A Balkan Blitz - Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro

The latest installment of my sporadically updated travel blog comes courtesy of a two-week jaunt around Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

The Croatian part of the trip was short and sweet, with two days in Dubrovnik before heading north to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. About five days in Bosnia and a week in Montenegro was how it panned out.

Sarajevo was probably the most historically interesting place, because of the conflict there during the nineties. From my childhood, I remember the name Sarajevo as a place that was always preceded with the phrase 'war-torn' or 'under siege'. They've moved on from that now but there was so much conflict in the former Yugoslavian countries that it took a a while before I got my head round who was fighting who and why.

And going further back, it was the place where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in June 1914 and provided a catalyst for Europe to go hurtling towards World War One. I've only just realised as I type that I was stood on that spot just shy of 100 years later.

Any important life-lessons learnt? Matching hard-drinking Serbians beer for beer and rakija for rakija on a Friday night in Foca after white-water rafting was fun but quite painful the next day. Luckily there are no photos of that.

Anyway, enough rambling, there are captions under each of the 20 or so photos below. Some witty, some informative, some merely descriptive. All top quality.


The route:
Dubrovnik (Croatia), Mostar, Sarajevo, Foca (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Herceg Novi,
Kotor, Ulcinj, Podgorica (Montenegro)

Dubrovnik, Croatia
Also known as Kings Landing in Game of Thrones. 

Rooftops of Dubrovnik
It's pretty scenic every way you look.

Mostar, Bosnia
The bridge is 25 metres high and has a divers club of brave souls who jump into the river below.

Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia
Went swimming here in the midst of about 20 or so waterfalls. Bracing.

Sarajevo, Bosnia
Where the band Franz Ferdinand began, or something like that.

Foca, Bosnia
It doesn't get any more manly than this. Think Burt Reynolds in the film Deliverance but without all the being hunted down by murderous hillbillies.

Tara River, Bosnia/Montenegro border
We crossed the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro while rafting.
The water was crystal clear and clean enough to drink, which seemed amazing for such a big river.

Foca, Bosnia
Well earned glass of wine with a decent enough backdrop.

The Gurdic Gate, Kotor, Montenegro
One of four entrances into Kotor, this one is probably the most impressive.

St Tryphon Cathedral, Kotor, Montenegro
Built in 809, which makes it pretty old.

Kotor, Montenegro
You'd better enjoy this photo because I climbed about 1,300 steps to get it, up the mountain behind Kotor.

Perast, Montenegro
This car didn't look like it had been selling Coca Cola for a few years.

St George Island, Perast, Montenegro. 
12th century Benedictine monastery. No visitors allowed. Apart from God I imagine. He'd be a bit cross if
they banned Him. 

Gospa od Škrpjela, Montenegro 
I liked these guys. Clearly been doing the job a while but look content enough.

Gospa od Škrpjela, Montenegro 
An artificial island a short ferry ride from Perast and 20 metres across the water from St George Island (a couple of photos above)

Up in the hills above Kotor Bay, Montenegro

Mt Lovcen, Montenegro
The mausoleum of Petar II Petrović-Njegoš, considered the greatest king of Montenegro. 

Cetinje, Montenegro
Just an interesting building that tickled my photographic fancy.

Budva, Montenegro
Trying to do something arty with the shadow of the palm tree on the church but not really succeeding.

Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
That island is actually one giant hotel that was nationalised and made super-exclusive by the Montenegrin government some years ago. Novak Djokovic (Serbian tennis player) was said to be having his wedding there a week or two after this photo was taken. A night there will set you back between 900 and 4000 Euros.

Podgorica, Montenegro
An attempt at some holiday romance but I got the silent treatment.

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