Hitchhike to Bosnia – Banja Luka the key word

 

Zagreb

Zagreb

Leave Zagreb, where we spent a weekend, and try to reach Bosnia and Herzegovina (that country we only knew because the war) was a big challenge and a special adventure.

The way we got Zagreb was still fresh in our mind hence we only hoped for things to keep flowing in the right direction.
Behind we left Zagreb laying on a completely dead Sunday, shops shut and empty streets, the contrary of the lively Saturday we had the privilege to witness.

Last hours in Zagreb

Thumbs up – we’re ready to go

We had time yet for a last stroll before follow the hints we found on hitchwiki.org.
Until that day we had no reasons to question the reliability of those tips. We followed the instruction that should have taken us to the pay toll direction Bosnia but instead we ended walking – lost – on the highway ignoring the fact it is illegal.

Minutes after we were angrily confronted by one officer, who repeatedly shouted at us “get out of the highway”. Desperate, we insisted we would like to talk to the driver who just had been caught speeding. When he assured us he would call others officers to arrest us, we jumped the median barrier and walked away.

We ended up in a car park where we had to ask people to take us to the next gas station. Tomislav, a gentleman who was waiting for his wife, decided to take us to the pay toll. The gesture was unexpected and did give us so much hope that someone would be brave to take us to Bosnia.

Tally became our hero that night

Tally became our hero that night

Before start the lift hunting, I only had time to clean my soaked sneakers, and exchange few words with myself. I was amazed by everything life was giving me during this this amazing voyage.

We tried with lorry drivers, families, couples but somehow they seemed diffident. We kept on going refusing to think that gas station would be our main “hostel” instead we decided even to go beyond our prejudices regarding fancy cars.
I spotted one and I decided to take the risk and talk to the driver, he hesitated, asking twice how come I was going to his country, when I mentioned Banja Luka, his eyes glittered and he said: Of course I can take you guys to my hometown – 180km from Zagreb.

Banja Lukawhat can one find here?

View From the fortress

View From the fortress

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Dj Sergej – one of our many guides

There are things that words cannot totally describe and the experience in Banja Luka is one of them.
We had no clue about the existence of this place, neither its popularity when comes to party, hospitality and somehow beautiful ladies.
We came across the name Banja Luka in the deep countryside of Slovenia while eating in a restaurant. The waitress – originally from Serbia – artistically painted the name of this city in our virtual map and she made sure we understood that Banja Luka should be part of our trip.
When we realised we were in town enjoying a priceless moment with locals. The destiny plotted this encounter with this people and gave us a unique chance to enjoy an amazing friendly atmosphere.

Branko and Steven, those two friends who took us to Bosnia, confessed they were sceptical taking two black guys along, nevertheless they fall in love and stick to our plans from the first to last minute, which could only be a powerful hint that trust and friendship can go beyond any sort of stereotypes.
Almost nothing we knew about Banja Luka, the second largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, neither they knew about Cape Verde, Portugal or Venezuela.
The eager to know what we were up to around the Balkans and the will to discover more about each other did bring friends of friends, who became our guides available the whole stay and even more remarkable was the fact that each day we had more and more people available to take us around.
The city divided in two by the river Vrba, surrounded by magnificent hills has on its people the main attraction. The people sculptured the Bosnian hospitality on our memoires and made each hand shake, smile and a hug seemed so easy that we thought we belonged to the crowd.
We indeed had trouble to leave this city, it was the first time we were experiencing such warm reception from people we didn’t know.

Minutes after we crossed the border

Minutes after we crossed the border

Ahead a huge challenge was laying; we knew that two days can never be the same and would be tough to deal with the lack of locals throughout the next days.

We had the best of our life and the moment for farewell was approaching, which we accepted as a “see you soon guys”…
Hvala for this amazing experience.

Sarajevo would be the next stop, the challenging journey, a new adventure – coming soon

 

Useful information
Banja Luka – about 227,000 people
Currency – Mark Bosnia and Herzegovina 5BAM = €2.5
Cevapi  – the national dish, meat served with bread and onion – still don’t which meat is made of
Pivo – beer
Hvala – thank you
Staimaa – what’s up

 

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