Thursday, 31 March 2011

Bosnia, Croatia to Montenegro

Oh gee whiz, I've done a lot since the last blog post.  Checking in from Athens Greece.. I've finished Bosnia i Herzegovina, back into Croatia, another 16 km into Bosnia, back into Croatia again, and then to Montenegro.. (in this blog).. but since I have also ridden through Albania, Macedonia and now in of coarse in Greece.. where to begin!??  Medjugorje..!

Sunset from my little guesthouse on the outskirts of town..

Religion plays such a huge tourism role for every country I have been in Europe, which usually includes the high price for accommodation - including this small town.  So I found a place out of town that will suit my budget - cheap! Secondly, these out of the way cheap places always have the nicest people anyway with the added bonus of the beautiful countryside, rather than concrete buildings and traffic.


Morning walk to "Apparition Hill" and that wind is still roaring over the mountain tops!


A whole lot of praying going on..from people of many different languages. Mostly Catholic I would assume.  Speaking of, it is THE place to go if you need to buy a rosary, every shop was full of them!


Maybe become a priest while your here.. ? (I honestly had no idea you can just buy these robes).

I explored the area for quite a while.. whether you believe in the apparition or not, it is definitely a place with good energy and peace once you get past all the souvenir shops.

Making my way to Medjugorge to Montenegro was easier than I expected. My gps didn't recognize most roads in Bosnia. So I resorted to google maps on my computer, of which also refused to give me an idea of route. My last chance for a plan was the trusty ol' paper map - which again, did not show any roads to or from Medjugorge!  I don't understand as this small place takes many tourists every year.. but not to worry.   Once I was riding around, the roads are very well marked.  So I am really surprised at the lack of map information.

A little ride through BiH toward the coast and back into Croatia.. hello again!  Croatia sees me often!


After a short ride, it's back through a border post for Bosnia which has 16 km of coastline.  Needed fuel here, but I must make it back into Croatia because I want to use up my remaining Kuna (Croatia money).


I rode these exact roads in November last year through a dark rainy night.. so GREAT to see it on a sunny spring day!



A simple drive by of Dubrovnik, where I stayed for an entire week through the rain last year.. look at it now, so much better!

Need to keep moving though, because my goal is to meet Blazo Milic whom I met along with Nino and Vladimir during their round the world trip in Russia last July.  Here is a reminder photo we took from Vladivostok Russia.  I remember when these guys told me they are from Montenegro, and I didn't say anything at the time, but when I got back to my computer I quietly had to google it to find out where their country was..  had no idea! ;-)


But today is the day, and I get to meet them again and see how they have got on since they returned from their epic 3 month RTW journey... 3 months!  Wow, that is endurance... If interested to see what they've accomplished, you can have a look at http://www.theridearound2010.me/


Crna Gora is offical name, meaning 'black mountain'.  Monte Negro in Spanish means 'black mountain'..

I made it through the border gates at 11:58, for my 12:00 meet time... whew!

I waited for a bit, and then I hear the motorcycles in the distance... love that sound!  I was only expecting Blazo, and I get 2 for the price of one!  However, young Blazo is not here... it's Nino and Marko!


Now I understand the wait, Blazo's bike is not happy and it stopped about 2 km away.. so with a warm Montenegro welcome, thanks guys!  we head back to see about Blazo.


Something to do with the electronics of the fuel pump.. the guys are ingenius and rig a way to fix.. and luckily my little contribution is we got to use one of my tools.. I knew I needed to carry them for some reason! ;-))

The bike starts again and we start riding the beautiful Montenegro coast.  Oops, the bike died again.. this time they call in the mechanics..


These guys were so kind and concerned that I was bored stopped at the side of the road, but seriously I wasn't.  Have a look around, it's not a bad place to enjoy a gorgeous Montenegro afternoon!  I am truly loving this place, not complaining a tiny bit, so take your time!


 Nino waits patiently as well.. ;-)


The mechanics were good, job well done..to the music of Elvis..! So we go up around the corner for a celebratory snack and a drink.


The sun is getting low, so we pass up the plan for exploring and decide to head straight for Blazo's home in Podgorica, about an hour's drive into the mountains.

TO BE CONTINUED...
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Friday, 25 March 2011

Croatia Bosnia and Herzegovina



6:30 AM arrive to a familiar ferry port in Split Croatia..  back to familiar faces.. First to Anton and Marija's whom I stayed with in rainy November, for an early morning visit. And young Paulina who reads my passport to me in ... Croatian! (Little translator in the making..)

Then on to familiar faces #2, which is Rakela and his gang at BMW Club Split.. which included another wonderful home cooked club meal, lots of friends and a night for me in the gym!  I loved it..


Miro in the club kitchen.. This is all very technical work making a meal in the BMW service coat!

5 star service by Rakela in the BMW dream coat!

Ever heard that term "too many cooks in the kitchen"?















Very happy cooks, Miro and Josip.

All the guys had me laughing so much, and we had a super meal.. as well as a ride into old town Split for a bit of more fun..


Into a fairly dodgey looking bar, but they are usually the best, and this one is no different.. ;-)



One of the guys in the pub owns an antique shop nearby which he opened up to show us some really interesting things.. I love antique shops, but walking around old town Split is like wandering through one big antique.. ha!  He did have some amazing pieces, as you might expect in such a region..




Was a great night out, and Protector Rakela never fails to entertain and bring the people together.. thanks again my friend!!  I do hope to return the favor someday!

Tomorrow I ride to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the some of the boys decide to escort me there! Plus it was Sunday and it's spring, so I am happy they use me for an excuse for the day excursion.


The only trick today is to deal with the famous "burra".. the crazy adriatic gale force winds.  In this picture above, I try to show how fierce the flags are blowing and if you look far into that line of white cloud barrowing over the mountains, I hope it gives a feel to how strong the wind is.  When I looked at the wind report this day, it was 30 - 36 kts with gusts into the 50s..  yuk.  I was a "weiny", but I did it!  Plus the guys knew the backroads of Croatia that were full with trees, which helped tremendously.. thank goodness!!  And great scenery as well!

Ivana, Ivan (engaged.. I wonder what their kids names will be..), Stipe, Rakela and Josip



As usual with my life, always a surprise.. we go through the Croatia border check point and then we pull up to a house.. it's Ivan's parents home, and they fed us the most wonderful lunch!  Interestingly, we have not yet crossed into Bosnia i Herzegovina.. the house is right in between!


The official border is this property line of the grandfathers' house and with Bosnia to the left, they are technically Croatians. But if I understood them correctly, they got to choose!

Bosnia border check point from the yard

Now into the house for the best and tastiest lunch.. so good to have home cooked meals on the road, I can tell ya!  



Now they decide to have me try their homemade alcohol.. did I need to mention I am riding a motorcycle today??  (I promise I didn't drink much, only tasted..but it did help with my confidence in the wind...)

Oops, this one a bit strong!


I think it's so good to see and learn about their culture. I have tasted some really interesting things in this country, and I love how they eat such pure wholesome food, including the drinks!

This is Rogac, it looks to me like made from a seed I see hanging from a tree in the fall? 

Still plenty to see, so a big thank you to Ivan and his lovely parents.. they tell me if I come back in 100 years, they will still be in that house.. aww!




These guys know their way around, and I love seeing this part of the world..  next stop Medjugorje in Bosnia i Herzegovina... as my planned stop and visit.  Ivan wants me to make double clear that this area is Herzegovina, not Bosnia.  Confusing to me, but Herzegovina is not an officially recognized state/government, but explains the area and region we are in.

Medjugorje is famous for the apparition of Mother Mary to a group of young children in 1981.  Many pilgrims flood the town now each year, and seems that the touristy shops are having a time with it!

But it's always nice to be welcomed properly into town.. ;-)

No worries, everybody's happy.. Rakela is going to USA in May to experience a bit of culture himself!  Will be great to hear what he thinks about American culture. As you know from my previous posts, Croatia is full of amazingly hospitable and fun people, and I hope he finds the same on his journey.. I love these guys and thank you for the great ride, food and fun!  

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