Way to Sarajevo – an epic journey

In the middle of nowhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina

In the middle of nowhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Every now and then we probably think about what did happen on our way to Sarajevo. It was an epic journey – normally from Banja Luka to Sarajevo the journey can last 4 hours by car, but for us travel 230km lasted way more, the longest during the Balkans trip.

You must wonder how long, but before answer you, allow me to put you into context.

We hitchhiked from Zagreb to BanjaLuka in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republika Srpska), where we spent three amazing days. We were too comfortable: staying at cheap and well located hostel, eating gorgeous food every day and having bunch of new good friends looking after us. Therefore we neglected the long distance to the next city – Sarajevo

We paid a high price for having started hitchhiking around 4pm. It was super late for a long distance, thus we only got the first lift around 7pm and the gentleman who picked us confessed he never stop for strangers but thought we might be someone heading off to his hometown just 10 km’s away.
Although it wasn’t a long voyage we were glad for getting a sense of leaving Banja Luka and also a shelter because of the rain and cold.

Around 9pm we were starving, and although we were keen to keep trying move, it was necessary to get some energy and again cevapi was the only meal we could get at the only café in the neighbourhood. After few minutes trying to explain the lady our situation, we nodded when she finally uttered the word manger.
The food wasn’t very tasty as used to be in Banja Luka but at least the pivo (beer) helped us feel proud of this mad adventure – hitchhike around the Balkans where almost no one does.

Rare moment - I managed to fall sleep  at the gas station

Rare moment – I managed to fall asleep at the gas station @foto Quiendijolejos.com

It was a big challenge for two beginners and what was going on could only make us stronger. We left the café pretty confident that someone would dare to take us somewhere, never mind, we just wanted to move. That only happened when 2 drunk friends tried to start a conversation with us, in between pivos (beers) and cigarettes – the only words you could understand – we found out that they would like to take us to Sarajevo.

With Dragon and Milos

With Dragon and Milos @foto Quiendijolejos.com

After 10 minutes driving the co-pilot fell asleep, the pilot, we could see, was still able to manage the lights changing, and in his limited vocabulary he assured us he was a “professional”.  We accept the offer because we were desperate to move and of course when we realised the mistake it was too late. Fortunately Milos  decided to stop after 40 minutes driving. We were again in the middle of nowhere; Johan was sleeping, for me stare off into the darkness was my only option because the bench at the cafe wasn’t comfortable.

Johan is not fussy when comes to sleep

Johan is not fussy when comes to sleep – in Bočac

Next morning we “woke up” surrounded by a stunning landscape. The whole area was walled by astonishing green hills and though the situation was still tough we had time for a pleasant walk alongside the river, where we were checked by the two officers. After half an hour trying to figure out if we had crossed the border illegally, they tried to make sure that “autostop” would be very hard in that area. Indeed we had a terrible morning, no one stopped, we had to cope with the intermittent rain, and   then we opted for a walk after we figured out that the next gas station was 4km away. Luckily Johan managed to persuade a bus driver to take us to the next gas station (pumpa in Bosnian) .

Here we spent 6 hours

At this gas station in Dabrac we spent 6 hours

When everything seemed far-fetched, we managed to get a lift with to friends who were going to Mostar. They dropped us in Donji Vakuf, 120km from Sarajevo. There we met Samir – The American, who helped us get on a bus to Sarajevo, I fell asleep on bus and only woke in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

When we got to the hostel, I wrote on my notepad, way to Sarajevo, an epic 24 hours journey.


Old town - Sarajevo

Old town – Sarajevo

I woke up early in that semi noisy hostel amid travellers from different parts of the world. However, we were all clinged by the silence of the mountains.
The war had finished decades ago, but the sounds of the powerful past still make the visitors wonder how would be living in a place where the hatred triumph over the love for 1425 days (Siege of Sarajevo).


One of the many cemeteries in Sarajevo

We were greeted by the sounds of the mosques, a sort of welcome to the land of muslims in Southeastern part of Europe. The prays echoed through the narrow streets of the city center, drawing an imaginary line that take one to the magic hills and mountains.

First, we stopped by a restaurant recommended by someone from the hostel, typically from the Balkans – they always send you to someone from their network which doesn’t mean would the best and the cheapest one.
Unlike the business woman, the mountains take advantage of one’s curiosity and push one to the adventure.
Lili drawn the itinerary of the journey  based on her fear and anxiety. We followed the lines which, in her opinion, would avoid the so popular hidden land mines, a awful war heritage from . IDris, fellow traveller, though a while dog, followed her likewise conscious.

Fellow traveller exploring the hills

Fellow travellers exploring the hills

I followed their steps up and down the hill, and soon we would be few more sharing the peace of those mountains and hills. While wandering around we saw curious looks coming from behind the curtains – kids are almost keen to figure out what’s goig on. Shy smiles on elder people faces took us through the slippery streets of the neighbourhood and there some were standing on their balconies enjoying the scenery view. Few metres further a man was pushing his wheelbarrow full of bricks, each of one a symbol of the reconstruction of the city that for many years seduced travellers during the Ottoman and Austro Hungarian empire.

We started with 4, than 3 adventurers and at the end we were dozens sharing the the same peaceful atmosphere, today we are even more, I am writing you, you reading this words on behalf of the triumph of the love over the evil. I came from far ready to loose my western prejudices, this place have room only for peace.

Sarajevo from the hills

Sarajevo from the hills

Why I use a naked picture?

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4 Responses

  1. Jose Daniel says:

    Hey Buddy,

    The article is great, I could follow it like i was travelling with you and I believe it was a great experience for you. I was not aware of Muslim in that part of Europe, people can always learn new things everyday.
    Video is good and fun, i have to admit you are a very patient man to waiting so long for a ride, but that is what i like about you, always open to go extra mile for what you want, keep like that …..
    By the way, your ass looks good, ahahahaa
    Take care bro….


    • Nelvino Lima says:

      We didn’t realised we were at one of the most beautiful places in Bosnia otherwise we would have enjoyed rather than wait wait wait.
      It was tough indeed but I enjoyed every single moment – almost all :)
      We spent 24 hours waiting just to reach Sarajevo but the experience took me way beyond the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it took me to the point I understood that even when one waits one still travelling miles and miles…
      Thanks for commenting and keep coming back and share your thoughts…

  2. lili says:

    fear and anxiety?! what?! come on….. what are you talking about?! mad man! i disagree in 100%!
    So different perspective. one is in common, experiencing Sarajevo is not easy to express with words. I am also struggling with it . Although i have heard it already more than once, i like the way you told it again

    • Nelvino Lima says:

      My life was on yr hand which means I wasn’t afraid of yr “fear”…I did trust u to guide through the hills ans mountains of one most special places in the world.
      I would definitely trust you again :)