The trip

Europe Travel Blog

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We were on the road, speeding at 120 km/h down the German motorway heading east. German highways are a peculiar thing: you get on at one end and keep driving until you reach the other end, with no interruptions. To the motoring enthusiast this is a bit of a let-down, although it has to be admitted that stunning progress is made in terms of distance. After just one day of driving we had driven across Germany, into Austria, passed through a dozen or so tunnels, and were now in Slovenia. We ended up in some camp site just over the border with a large swimming pool. So, after a well-deserved swim and setting up camp, we were 1000 kilometres closer to our destination: the city of Sarajevo in Bosnia Herzegovina.

After a few days of driving down the beautiful Croatian coastline towards Dubrovnik, we turned north towards Mostar and Sarajevo.

As soon as you drive into Bosnia, you can feel the weight of recent history on people’s shoulders, not least because of the scale of the human casualties in the ethnic war which ravaged the country in the early 1990s, but also due to the constant reminders provided by shot up buildings, mortar scars and a seemingly unending number of graves throughout the city.

In this country Christian and Muslim beliefs meet and, to some extent, mix. To an outsider it is impossible to see the differences between a Mosque and Church; both are commonly built with domes that Western Europeans are only used to seeing in the former. Indeed, the only way to determine which God a particular place of worship honours (without stepping a foot inside) is to look at the symbol on the top, either a cross or half moon.

We stayed with the Beslija family in Sarajevo, and want to thank them again for their hospitality and showing us around their city. Sarajevo truly is a city with a need for a guidebook, and the Beslijas provided it to us. Even though our stay was too short to understand the powerful, complex social and political forces shaping daily life in Bosnia, it was incredibly interesting to get a brief look into a different world.

The purpose of the trial run, of course, was to test our vehicle and equipment, all of which performed outstandingly. Apart from running out of diesel once, and a mishap with an easily fixable ruptured fuel line, we had only one serious problem: the motor of the windscreen wipers broke on our return journey when we were stuck in the “Deutsche Nebel” (a fine mist in the mountains). With 800 kilometres to go, we fixed things by tying a rope, which we then ran inside the vehicle, to each of the windscreen wipers. This meant that we could move them by pulling on one of the newly attached ropes. This was clearly a comical sight judging by the number of laughs we got! A Land Rover-fix for a Land Rover-problem.

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