Monday,14 June 10
Km so far: 1884
Left Kolasin this morning and headed northwest into the Tara Gorge National Park. We drove parallel to the beautiful Tara River before we entered the park but then as we ascended the scenery became more and more spectacular. As we rounded a bend the Tara Gorge bridge came into view, an elegant concrete structure spanning the 1300 metre deep gorge, the deepest in Europe and 2nd deepest in the world after the Grand canyon.
Also the 7th highest bungee jump in the world and we watched as someone was being winched back up having made the leap of faith in big elastic bands. Crossed this off the list of things to do before I die.
Drove northwest now towards the Durmator National Park, but missed a turning and ended up on a road under construction. We arrived at the entrance to a tunnel that seemed to be unfinished and spoke to the driver of a digger asking directions for Niksic. He assured us that we should go through the tunnel, so we did.
The first kilometre or so was unfinished but the road surface was reasonable and there were makeshift
lights. We then came upon a concrete pour with the lorry occupying practically the whole width of the tunnel. This was beginning to feel silly, but once again the workmen assured us that we could get to Niksic this way and assisted us squeezing the Land Rover through the space beside the lorry, with less than an inch to spare either side.
Beyond the concrete mixer the tunnel was very unfinished. The road was just dirt, mud and puddles of indeterminate depth, there was no lighting whatsoever and it was spooky and alarming driving through this big hole in the ground with no end in sight, feeling like motorised pot-holers. Glad we weren’t driving the Morgan that we’d seen driven by a Norwegian couple as we’d crossed the border into Kosovo.
After another km or so we emerged into sunlight and the workmen that we met did seem surprised to see us. However, they pointed us in the right direction and we drove miles along tiny tracks until we eventually reconnected with the main roads.
Whilst driving along the little tracks we came across a wizened old lady herding cows. We stopped and gave her a can
of Coke and attempted to have a chat. Fiona’s basic Russian was enough to exchange names and establish that we were going towards Niksic but that was as far as it went.
Headed north now towards Pluzine which rests on a very long man-made lake. By this time I felt that I was suffering from scenery overload with so many spectacular mountainous vistas. Not far north of the lake we came to the Bosnian border.
Leaving Montenegro was no problem, they just wanted to make sure that we had purchased the insurance when we had entered. Entering Bosnia was a little more difficult as here was no one there to sell the required insurance. The very charming border policeman told us we would have to wait 40 minutes for the man to drive down from Foca, and true to his word the man arrived exactly 40 minutes later.
It was a welcome break from driving as we had driven more than we had planned thanks to our interesting subterranean detour, so we ate cherries and beautiful tiny mountain strawberries that we had bought in Montenegro. A bunch of cows appeared and were shooed across the bridge back
into Montenegro by the police. It is a common scam perpetrated by the cows who surreptitiously cross the bridge, eat Bosnian grass then return to Montenegro to provide their milk, and the policeman complained that they do not have passports or insurance.
Noted the big ‘Welcome to Republica Srpska’ sign at the border but not allowed to take a photo of it.
Another hour and a half of driving through mountain canyons alongside rivers that are generating new industry for Bosnia as white water rafting and kayaking centres.
Drove past Sarajevo airport, entering the city from the west. Blundered around a bit trying to get our get our bearings but eventually found our way to the Hotel Michele, located in an unlikely back street but very chic and has had some well known guests including Richard Gere! Big room with interesting art on the all, walls decorated with stencilling rather than wallpaper and a genial host who recognised that a bottle of Sarajevo Pivo was a higher priority than unloading the car.
5 minutes walk into the centre of town and ate in a delightful pavement café, watching the (mostly) beautiful people of Sarajevo promenade, and it was busy, even on a Monday. Plan to have a proper look around tomorrow.
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