Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Three Countries In One Day Son


[We woke up a little earlier than planned in order to beat the heat on the hike up the mountain fortifications.]

[No admission off of this cliff.]

[We had a little breakfast of local cheese, cured meat, and some crackers. The cheese and meat's flavor was fine but they were just both way too salty.]

Leaving Kotor behind, we wound our way through the mountains towards the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) border. Along the way we made a quick stop in Perast, Montenegro. Perast is another medieval town on the Adriatic. What makes it special is two islands a couple hundred feet off the coast. They both house churches I believe. The Our Lady of the Rock Island is interesting because it’s man-made and every year the locals take a trip out to add more rocks.  We didn't stay in Perast for long because there were about a million tour buses of people there.

About an hour later we reached the Bosnian border. After a quick chat with first the Montenegrin border patrol and then the Bosnian patrol, we passed a sign welcoming us to the Republic of Srpska.  John thought this name was pretty funny and repeated it about 100 times. So fun, so fun.

[I mean, this is clearly hilarious. Srpska is after it's translated into English. That's funny, I don't care who you are.]

We were a little confused by the sign because we thought we'd entered Bosnia. Well it turns out the politics of BiH is pretty complicated. There are three distinct ethnic groups in BiH: Bosniaks (Muslims), Croats (Catholics), and Serbs (Orthodox Christians.) These groups had it out for one another during the Yugoslavian wars in the 90s. As part of the peace agreements, it was decided that the Serbs would get their own government and the Republic of Sprska was born. Today, under pressure from the EU and the US, they’ve all become more of a united force with one military and one passport. But, if you look at a map of BiH you can see that it’s a little crazy.

Anyway we stopped in the small town of Trebinje for lunch. Our book only had one restaurant recommendation so that's where we went. The outside was pretty cool - the entrance was like walking through a huge wine barrel.  Inside the hostess asked if we had reservations. We thought this was pretty hilarious considering every table was empty. The food was meh, but the view was nice.

After driving around town a bit, we realized there wasn't much else to do, so we considered driving somewhere else in Bosnia. We looked through our book but nothing seemed too appealing. In fact, in the suggested itinerary for Bosnia, it said to take day trips to Serbia and Croatia. I guess there's a reason no one vacations in Bosnia. Well we were at least able to cross it off of John’s list.

[Lydia was annoyed because she ordered the trout which was fine but it contained infinite tiny bones which rendered it inedible.]

Next stop was the Bosnian/Croatian border. Leaving Bosnia was entertaining. The border patrol was just a little hut on the side of the road, and the barriers were hand powered.

Entering Croatia, the scenery changed almost immediately. It was pretty again! The Croatian countryside resembled Montenegro with its tall mountain peaks and turquoise water. There were also bright pink and purple flowers along the road. After crossing into Croatia, it didn't take us long to reach Dubrovnik.
The old city of Dubrovnik is similar to the town in Kotor, but it's a bit bigger and overrun with tourists. We pushed our way through the tourists and up at least 100 stairs to our Airbnb. 

We dropped off our bags and headed back out for a guided tour of the city. We started outside the walls at Pile Gate, the main entrance. Next we wandered inside and past a famous fountain, a couple of monasteries, and a clock tower. The clock tower is cool because there are two soldier sculptures responsible for ringing the bell. We also heard more about the Yugoslavian wars. When Croatia declared its independence in May 1991, about a year before Bosnia, they were attacked by the Yugoslavian Army. Dubrovnik was especially hard hit and was under siege for several months.

[Lydia tried to bite this nice gentleman we met.]

[Some of the buildings had pictures attached that showed what they looked like when engulfed in flames. You don't see that everyday.]

[I'm going to say the Dubrovnik synagogue is the second oldest in the world. I challenge you to defy me.] 

[Dubrovnik is fun because despite its Disneyland level of tourism there are still old ladies who live here and do their laundry outside.]

After the tour we grabbed an unfortunate dinner, cruised the main street a bit more, and then headed back up the stairs to our Airbnb.

[My dinner wasn't that bad. I was all like...]

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