The Smoking Contest

Sarajevo Travel Blog

 › entry 55 of 94 › view all entries
Ostrag Monastery (from a distance as due to land slides it was closed the day I visited)

I feel like I have smoked 18 cigarettes – which is probably true as the bus ride from Budva, Montenegro to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina meant a nine-hour journey on a bus with no air conditioning, or windows which could open, and I was sitting behind the driver who smoked like a chimney. The only way to survive this journey was to take an interest in the stunning scenery that I saw driving through Montenegro (literal translation is Black Mountains) to the beautiful green of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The ride, apart from my new habit of passive smoking, included a chance to count the tunnels through the mountains – 72 in total. Quite the building feat, but no more impressive than the rickety old bridge the bus had to drive over to get to the other side of the gorge.

Me in front of the Church of St Martyr Stanko
There were times I was unsure if we were getting a little close to the edge, so I can imagine how the driver felt and perhaps this is why he smoked the way he did – maybe if we had of gone over the edge they would be able to find us because of all the smoke signals he had made prior.

Leaving Budva was sad; the place has a nice funky feel to it. Sure the beach is pebbly and there are no waves, but the old town makes up for it, and the super yachts that are parked made me think I was on the French Riviera.

It was while here I made a day trip out to Kotor. Located 45 minutes away by bus and only €3 one-way, this place had a well-known wall that I had plans to climb.

I like how there is an unspoken rule with climbing; those who are going up are busy looking down and heaving trying to catch their breath that the people walking down, move out of the way for them.

Pretty impressed with this photo - I took it through binoculars
I had encountered this at university as well and had often wondered if this was a worldwide phenomenon. From what I encountered on this day, it looks like the world thinks like me. Scary thought for some of you, but in Saskia World, it’s all good.

Kotor has 25 churches within the small area, but I came for the fort. Castel St John was an Illyrian fort. Entry is €2, but if you pretend to be part of a group, you can get in for €1.  The views are impressive and you get to overlook the whole of Kotor along with the fjord (well they call it a fjord but it has no glaciers). Walking does take an effort as the steps are well worn, but having done the section of the Great Wall of China at Simatai, it was a walk in the park.

The views from the first major stop (Church of Our Lady of Remedy, 1518), were spectacular and the only reason to continue up towards the fort was purely for bragging rites and to really ensure you got value for your €1 entry fee.

It took about two hours walking up, posing for photos along the way and at the top, and then running back down. The running made it more exciting as my sandals slipped often on the polished rock.

Montenegro was fun and I managed to fall in love with at least two different cats along the way, but one who gets a special mention is Bolognese. Having named her, she was such a sweetie and didn’t want to leave the comfort of my arms and had I have had more room in my backpack, she would have made a nice traveling mascot.

But perhaps it was best Bolognese didn’t travel with me today – the yellow fingered driver weaving through the roads passing on blind corners, and then driving at a snail’s pace whilst talking to a girl who came on the bus and sat up the front meant the drive was epic.

Accommodation for Wizards only?
Thank goodness for the sanity of Hamish and Andy Podcasts!

But now I am here, in Bosnia and Herzegovina and I am off to explore the city. Two nights here in Sarajevo to see how the war impacted the locals, and to fall in love with this place, although if I’m honest I already have. There is something pretty special about this country. The green of the countryside, the tall haystacks shattered throughout the farms, the bullet holes in the buildings around my hotel, yes there is a lot of history in this place and I know I will enjoy my time in this beautiful country.

Ciao from Sarajevo

vances says:
No butts about it, you had a real winner for a bus driver!
Posted on: Dec 18, 2010
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Ostrag Monastery (from a distance …
Ostrag Monastery (from a distance…
Me in front of the Church of St Ma…
Me in front of the Church of St M…
Pretty impressed with this photo -…
Pretty impressed with this photo …
Accommodation for Wizards only?
Accommodation for Wizards only?
Orthodox Monk at Ostrog Monastery
Orthodox Monk at Ostrog Monastery
The streets of Kotor
The streets of Kotor
Heading up to the Castel St John i…
Heading up to the Castel St John …
Sign says it all
Sign says it all
Top of the World
Top of the World
Relaxing in Kotor
Relaxing in Kotor
Dont forget to look up and admire…
Don't forget to look up and admir…
Such a cutey!
Such a cutey!
This is Bolognese - the cat who ad…
This is Bolognese - the cat who a…
Bolognese and I enjoying a lengthy…
Bolognese and I enjoying a length…
photo by: herman_munster