Odyssey day 16 Sarajevo to Mostar 81miles 600m

It rained today for the first 60 miles. Sarajevo’s mountains were shrouded in cloud. Heading west to the coast among with most of the traffic which also kept us company through the tunnels that reappeared. When the rain did stop it was easy to appreciate how water has shaped the landscape, from lakeside villages to gorges to reservoirs.

Entering Mostar, football provided a common currency: the rhythm of tribal chants send the same everywhere. The old bridge, rebuilt in 2004 after its destruction in the Balkan war looks a set piece. Tourists are fodder for the numerous stalls: and why not? The ice-cream is excellent.

Bosnia is a beautiful country with moor great variety of places and people. Defined by mountain ranges and religion.


The mini tour we started with around the main sights shows a proud energetic city rebuilding. Perhaps with the same vision that put in Europe’s first electric tram 1895. The 92_95 war damage is not hidden nor glorified, just speaks for itself.

Then a visit to the Museum of Crimes against Humanity and Genocide shocks you into silence and shame. Told simply, assertively and with little rancor, the exhibits tell the true story of the horror we in the West watched and did nothing for too long. The living legacy is 2.2%of the land mass contains an estimated 20000 landmines.

Archduke Franc Ferdinand’s historic assassination spot is nearby. The events this unleashed came full circle with tbe Balkan Wars. The contrast that these recent combatants are applicants to the EU to share in the peace dividend of internationalism whilst we seek to leave is stark. Why don’t we learn?

Odyssey Day 15 Foca to Sarajevo 50miles 1000m

Continuing to follow a river gorge, the tunnels return. This time relatively benign, tbe longest was lit. This didn’t encourage any nor considerate driving. Blind corner, let’s overtake: what cyclists coming towards me at great speed?

Tbe first half of today’s 80k was back up to 1200m. Tbe second half back down. On the way up settlements are thinly spread, with the occasional honey stalls. Trees are mainly oak. Tbe second half is entirely different landscape, far more worked and alpine in feel.

It’s hard to comprehend that only a short time ago tbe places we pass through today were at war with each other. Scattered graveyards must contain nations griefs and ambitions.

Arriving Sarajevo it’s time to get back into cycling in city mode, dodging traffic and lights. To explore tomorrow, tbe initial wander suggests could be a long day.

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And it’s wet….

Odyssey Day 14 Niksic to Foca

Montenegro reminds us of Wales. Wet, green and hilly. Wales doesn’t have the tunnels they have here though. A spectacular ride along a lakeside with tunnels through the rock face. Pity they are dark, bumpy and narrow. Adrenaline levels climb a tad.

Into Bosnia. What’s been made clear is don’t stay from the the established road surface. Full stop. Landmines from the 1990s are not cleared throughout the country. Dogs return admist the Alpine landscape.

The common thread in all the countries? Frogs croacking and snails crossing the road. Dogs. People smiling.