September 15th, 2022
Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) is a country located in the Balkans. The capital and largest city is Sarajevo. B&H borders Serbia to the east, Montenegro to the southeast, and Croatia to the north and southwest. In the south it has a narrow coast on the Adriatic Sea within the Mediterranean, which is about 20 kilometres (12 miles) long and surrounds the town of Neum somewhat cutting off Croatia.
The area that is now B&H has been inhabited by human beings for over 50,000 years. Culturally, politically, and socially, the country has a rich and complex history. The ancestors of the South Slavic peoples that populate the area today, arrived during the 6th through the 9th centuries. By the 14th century, B&H had evolved into the Kingdom of Bosnia. In the mid-15th century, it was annexed into the Ottoman Empire, under whose rule it remained until the late 19th century. The Ottomans brought Islam to the region, and altered much of the country’s cultural and social outlook.
From the late 19th century until World War I, the country was annexed into the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. After World War II, it was granted full republic status in the newly formed Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In 1992, following the breakup of Yugoslavia, the republic proclaimed independence. B&H has a bicameral legislature and a three-member presidency made up of one member from each of the three major ethnic groups. However, the central government’s power is highly limited, as the country is largely decentralized. It comprises two autonomous entities—the Federation of B&H and Republika Srpska—and a third unit, the Brčko District, which is governed by its own local government.
Following the declaration of independence, Bosnian Serb militias mobilized in different parts of the country. Government forces were poorly equipped and unprepared for the war. International recognition of B&H increased diplomatic pressure for the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) to withdraw from the republic’s territory, which they officially did in June 1992. The Bosnian Serb members of the JNA simply changed insignia, formed the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS), and continued fighting.
The Bosnian Serb advance was accompanied by the ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats from VRS-controlled areas. Dozens of concentration camps were established in which inmates were subjected to violence and abuse, including rape. The ethnic cleansing culminated in the Srebrenica massacre of more than 8,000 Bosniak men and boys in July 1995, which was ruled to have been genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Bosniak and Bosnian Croat forces also committed war crimes against civilians from different ethnic groups, though on a smaller scale.
On 4 February 2014, the protests against the Government, dubbed the Bosnian Spring, the name being taken from the Arab Spring, began in the northern town of Tuzla. Workers from several factories that had been privatized and gone bankrupt, assembled to demand action over jobs, unpaid salaries and pensions. Soon protests spread to the rest of the country with violent clashes reported in close to 20 cities. It was reported that hundreds of people had been injured during the protests, including dozens of police officer.
B&H is merely a “candidate” for entry into the EU at this time after their application in 2016 but not a member of the Schengen Region.
The country’s long name: Bosnia and Herzegovina comes from the two regions, which have a vaguely defined border between them with Bosnia in the north (over 4/5’s of the country) and Herzegovina in the south. After the 1878 Austro-Hungarian occupation, the two regions were organized jointly resulting the name.
The triangle on its flag, represents the approximate shape of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The stars, representing Europe, are meant to be infinite in number and thus they continue from top to bottom. The flag features colours often associated with neutrality and peace – white, blue, and yellow.
Currency: The Convertible Mark – $.51 USD and $.68 CDN
Diesel: 3.36 KM – about $1.xx USD per litre – $6.50 a gallon
Beer: Preminger, Nektar and Sarajevsko (none of which we found in a store though Doug tried the nonalcoholic version of the last one )
EU License Plate Letter: BIH
Entering Bosnia and Herzegovina was easy, peasy. Immigration was a booth on the side of the road, where the officer scanned our passports and that was it – took all of 16 seconds! The infrastructure here is definitely less affluent as are the cars and homes of the residents. It is quite mountainous and there are again, lots of tunnels.
We stopped in the first town of any size to look for SIM cards, cash and groceries. Unfortunately, since Bosnia is not part of the EU, our EE sim cards do not work here. Doug had already researched this and knew what to buy. We found an ATM, got some cash and then parked at a grocery store. While Fran shopped, Doug went to get the SIM cards. Shopping was not completely successful as a variety of fresh vegetables were almost nonexistent; we could get mushrooms, potatoes, peppers and onions. When Doug returned, he took care of paying while Fran went to another grocery store in the next block; no luck there either.
So on we went after putting away the groceries and installing our new SIM cards. Good to have data again!
We drove to the small medieval town of Pocitelj which was recommended but sadly we were not impressed although from a distance it looked cool.
It was an uphill walk to the mosque and tower ruins.
We opted not to do the extra hike up to the fort as we had low expectations.
We then made our way to the Kravica Falls which was another disappointment – nothing like Plitvice in Croatia and the water was rather scummy probably because of the people swimming in it! It was also hard to take photos as we were there at a time of the day when the sun was in a bad position.
Probably with more water it would be more impressive (although the water would still not be that inviting) but for €10 each, we felt it was not worth it. We were told we could stay in the parking lot overnight free if we wanted. We had planned to do that if we could have gone swimming to cool off, but as mentioned, it was not inviting. It was all very touristy, with restaurants and souvenir stalls all over the place.
As we’d not gone far in this country and the rain is supposed to come tonight, we thought we’d push on a tad more and went to Blagaj – to see an old monastery on the Bune River – you can take a boat into a cave as well but we didn’t plan on doing that.
Well, this was an even bigger disappointment – also not worth the drive but luckily, we’d read on park4night, that if you park in town, it’s free and you can walk to it in just over a click to the site. So glad we didn’t drive and pay about €4 to park down there.
We walked back to Minou stopping at two small grocery stores looking for veggies without success so no salad for dinner tonight.
We did see this nice war memorial with a fountain on our way back:
We had found some bread that we could use to make sandwiches with leftovers from last night so we don’t have to cook in Minou in this heat – it hit around 30C / 87 F today. It did sprinkle for a bit in the early afternoon before arriving here and we’ll see what happens tonight.
Today’s tunnel count was one leaving Croatia and 8 in Bosnia (one of which we went through 3 times due to strange routing)!
Thursday night was quiet until it wasn’t; roosters began crowing around 3am and then at 6 a bus decided to park in the same lot and idle for a while. It’s hard to complain too much when it was free!
It did sprinkle a bit overnight (despite the forecast of 100% chance of rain overnight) and it seemed to be clearing. We made our way the short distance to the city of Mostar and parked about 1 km from the centre of Old Town.
We walked into the centre and stopped at a couple of places:
Right by the parking lot where we parked was the Peace Tower:
We walked down the cobbled streets to the famous Old Bridge known as “Stari Most” in Bosnian:
The Mostar Bridge is a rebuilt 16th-century Ottoman bridge that crosses the river Neretva and connects the two parts of the city. The Old Bridge stood for 427 years, until it was destroyed on 9 November 1993 by the Croatian Defence Council during the Croat–Bosniak War. Subsequently, a project was set in motion to reconstruct it; the rebuilt bridge opened on 23 July 2004.
The bridge is considered an exemplary piece of Balkan Islamic architecture and was commissioned by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1557 replacing a wooden structure. It was designed by Mimar Hayruddin, a student and apprentice of architect Mimar Sinan who built many of the Sultan’s key buildings in Istanbul and around the empire. Charged under pain of death to construct a bridge of such unprecedented dimensions, Hayruddin reportedly prepared for his own funeral on the day the scaffolding was finally removed from the completed structure. Upon its completion it was the widest man-made arch in the world and he was not executed.
We walked around the other side of the river for a short bit but the bazar was not yet open. We did stop at a riverside restaurant to get a better view of the bridge:
And then we crossed the Lucki Bridge to get another view.
Then it was on to see the old Crooked Bridge built 8 years before the Stari Most but also had to be rebuilt due to weakening from shelling during the war.
As there wasn’t much more of interest to us here, we returned to Minou and drove to Sarajevo – 120 km / 75 mi away.
Fran had found a campground overlooking the city and from there we’ll look into maybe getting a few things done on Minou repaired and find a dentist to have Doug’s two continuing issues looked at. We drove up to 745 m / 2444’ and then back down some before arriving at the campground at 816 m / 2678’.
One of the things we wanted to visit in this city was the Tunnel of Hope. This is outside the city by the airport so we stopped there enroute to the campground.
The Sarajevo Tunnel known as “Tunel spasa” and Tunnel of Hope, was a tunnel constructed between March and June 1993 during the Siege of Sarajevo in the midst of the Bosnia War. It was built by the Bosnian Army in order to link the city of Sarajevo, which was entirely cut off by Serbian forces, with Bosnian-held territory on the other side of the Sarajevo Airport, an area controlled by the United Nations.
The tunnel linked the Sarajevo neighbourhoods of Dobrinja and Butmir (giving it the name “Tunnel D-B”), allowing food, war supplies, and humanitarian aid to come into the city, and allowing people to get out. The tunnel became a major way of bypassing the international arms embargo and providing the city defenders with weaponry. The tunnel consisted of 160 metres of covered trenches on the Dobrinja side, 340 metres of covered trenches on the Butmir side, and 340 metres of actual tunnel under the airport runway with an inside height of 1.60 metres.
As mentioned above, Bosnia declared its independence after a referendum vote in 1992. In retaliation for this unwanted referendum result, Bosnian Serb troops launched an assault on the capital of Sarajevo, claiming the lives before the war ended in 1995. This war was characterized by bitter fighting, indiscriminate shelling of cities and towns, ethnic cleansing, and systematic mass rape, mainly perpetrated by Serb, and to a lesser extent, Croat and Bosniak forces. The number of people killed put the death toll at about 100,000. More than 2,000,000 people were displaced during the conflict.
The house where the tunnel began still stands and they have preserved where the first nail hole was made! There is a reconstruction of entire 800 metres that you can walk through and upon exiting, there is wall of photographs and a video (sadly with no English).
You can see the original tunnel entrance that is kept inside the small museum:
And take a short walk into the original tunnel (200 metres).
We then made our way to Camping Zlaste and got settled. They charge €20 a night including power and Wi-Fi. There are bathrooms, showers and dish washing sinks as well as fresh water and dumping. It is located on a high ridge with great views over the city.
Doug began calling dentists and one could see him this afternoon so he walked down the hill into the city to get checked out but unfortunately, he didn’t really get satisfaction on one issue and the price for the other problem seemed very high.
He was back by 4 and began looking into finding an auto body shop to get some repairs on Minou done. He called around and found an outfit that could look at the work tomorrow which is Saturday but they are open so we’ll decide later if it’s worth it to stop in.
The temperature had cooled off into the low 20’s by the time we arrived in Sarajevo and the wind had picked up greatly by midafternoon. The 100% chance of rain did not materialize but the temperatures were a welcome change.
At the campground there is a little tree fort with a table and two chairs – that is where we sat for our happy hour with views over the city of Sarajevo. Over drinks, we decided to stay here two nights.
Today’s tunnel tally: 12
Saturday morning, Doug went for a pretty good run and our plan was to walk down the steep hill here into the city to visit it. It had rained a bit on and off overnight and there was a bit on Doug’s run but there appeared to be a dry window in the late morning. Then just as we were about to leave, the clouds closed in over the city and the rain began – it complete obliterated our view. The forecast now changed to show rain all day but sunshine tomorrow. So unless a window reopens, we’ll just hang here for the day.
Well, the rain continued and continued and continued pretty much all day with a few minutes of stopping every once in a while to allow us to go use the bathroom! It lasted into the evening but must have stopped overnight because by morning on Sunday, the sky was clear blue and the sun was shining. Yeah!
After showering and taking care of the usual dumping and filling, we paid for our two nights here and were on our way into the city (obviously being Sunday we weren’t going to check out the auto body shop). Fran had found a large parking lot at the National Theatre that looked like a good place to park while spending a couple of hours exploring downtown Sarajevo.
Well just before we crossed the river, we saw lots of police and some road barricades – seems that there’s a running race going on today. They let us through but we could not make it to the lot we wanted as a cop stopped us but he did let us park in the alley right there for free. He said something to us that we thought meant you have to leave by 1pm and we said no problem. By now we are seeing people wearing race bibs and Doug was sorry he hadn’t know about it as he could have participated.
Anyway, we left Minou under the watchful eye of the police officer and spent about 90 minutes exploring Sarajevo starting with a walk along the Miljacka River to the Latin Bridge (the river water is very brown due to the yesterday’s rain) and the spot where Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated back in 1914 to trigger WWI. There is this plexi glass sign at the spot:
And on the corner of the Sarajevo Museum, there is this plaque:
Rising to a peak like steepled fingers, spanning the river Miljacka in three arches, the Latin Bridge is a relatively unobtrusive little structure, thought to have been built sometime in the mid-16th century. Made infamous as the site of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, this pivotal event is marked by a rather understated plaque; in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1946–1992) the Bosnian-Serb assassin, Gavrilo Princip, (the assassin) was revered as a national hero.
Then further down the same sidewalk, we can upon the rebuilt City Hall (damaged several times over the years, most recently in the war of the early ‘90’s) but it’s a lovely building:
The largest mosque in the country is the centre of Sarajevo’s Islamic community. Built in 1532, it’s a striking example of the Ottoman architecture that characterizes the city. Outside is a beautiful courtyard with a fountain for ritual ablutions, and the main entrance is decorated with intricate Islamic designs and patterns. It has a number of domes, a characteristic feature of Ottoman, rather than Middle-Eastern, mosque architecture. Much of it was damaged during the civil war, and reconstruction began in 1996 as a matter of high priority, given its cultural significance.
The mosque was very hard to try and get a photo of the size of it. We then saw the Sarajevo Clock Tower next door:
Then it was down the pedestrian streets to the Sebli Square with is reconstructed fountain and hundreds of pigeons!
Right after this we saw the Start line of the race:
The next square by the Hotel Europe contained the ruins of Taslihan (apartments for sea merchants.
The Sacred Heart Cathedral had a large statue of Pope John Paul II in front and the streets in this area contained many beautiful apartment buildings with shops and cafes on the street level.
While walking towards a McDonald’s to find a bathroom, we passed the Eternal Flame commemorating those who died in WWII.
By now we could tell the race was underway so we made our way back to Minou to get out of town and find a grocery store, hoping to get lettuce – this country has been impossible to find that and broccoli – two staples of our salad dinners.
We arrived at Minou to be told by an officer who spoke English that we were stuck here for another hour or two. Okay, that kinda made more sense so maybe that first officer was saying we’d have to stay until one?
Anyway, we thought okay, let’s look for a grocery store in this area that we could walk to. After checking out four, all on the small side with neither of the items we wanted, Doug searched for a produce market and found one. Off we went and lo and behold, one lady vendor had everything we wanted including strawberries which we’ve not seen in a while, and some avocados so we’re set for four dinners now.
We stopped at a bakery to get some bread and used up our remaining Marks to buy a few treats. Upon returning to Minou, we put everything away, had an early lunch and settled in to wait until we could move. A fellow walked by and told us in French (must have seen our license plates) that we’d have to wait two hours for everything to finish and get cleared out but shortly after 12, we saw the final race participant with a police car and the officer by us, let us through.
The sun was still shining and the drive out of Sarajevo was a uphill climb but not as high as we’d camped at Zlaste.
We had over 300 km / 200 mi to go to get to Belgrade in Serbia but didn’t want to do all that this afternoon so Fran checked out our apps for wild camps and found a couple.
We began to see these strange haystacks in the fields:
We have seen all we plan to see in Bosnia and after researching Serbia, it does not have a great deal to offer either but to get to Romania, we need to go through it and at the very least, we’ll visit the capital. While driving we realized we’d never had the opportunity to enjoy a Bosnian beer anywhere due to the timing of our city visits, so we stopped at a small market to get some to enjoy tonight. We had no Marks left but he accepted Euros so that worked well.
The road eastward was in no way a major highway but we eventually made it to the border at Karakaj and leaving Bosnia, took less than a minute with one car ahead of us – this time he stamped us out.
Fun Facts about Bosnia:
- The country is nicknamed the “Heart Shaped Land” due to the country’s slight heart shape.
- The name “Bosnia” comes from an Indo-European word Bosnia,which means water. Which is fitting as the country is covered with beautiful lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and a strip of the Adriatic Sea.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of two Entities – the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic Srpska.
- The Bosnia and Herzegovina national football team played at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, its first major tournament.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina was the world champion of volleyball at the 2004 Summer Paralympics and volleyball at the 2012 Summer Paralympics. Many of the team members lost their limbs in the Bosnian War.
- It has the last remaining jungle in Europe at Perućica. The Perućica forest is not massive but it has many trees that are more than 300 years old and in many parts is inaccessible to humans due to the density of the flora and fauna.
- Stari Most in Mostar is one of the country’s most identifiable landmarks.
- The Sarajevo tram network is one of Europe’s oldest, having firstly served as the test line for Vienna’s trams. It was opened on New Year’s Day in 1885.
- There are still around 200,000 mines to clear due to the war and as a result Bosnia and Herzegovina has one of the most severe land mine problems in the world.
- The difference between a Bosnian and a Herzegovinian is upheld as a regional, not an ethic distinction.
- In 1984 Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics. It was the first time that a socialist country had hosted the Olympics
- There are three official languages; Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian. They’re all extremely similar.
- The Sarajevo Sahat Tower is a historic timepiece which said to be is the only clock in the world that keeps lunar time.
- The small town of Medjugorje is extremely popular with Catholic pilgrims. Millions of pilgrims have visited the site since 1981. This is due to reports of supposed apparitions of the Virgin Mary to six local children.
We travelled a total of 625 km / 389 mi in Bosnia.
September 18th, 2022
Serbia, officially the Republic of Serbia is a landlocked country in southeastern and central Europe in the Balkans. It shares land borders with Hungary to the north, Romania, to the northeast, Bulgaria to the southeast, North Macedonia to the south, Croatia and Bosnia to the west, and Montenegro to the southwest, and claiming a border with Albania through the disputed territory of Kosovo. Serbia including Kosovo has about 8.6 million inhabitants. Its capital Belgrade is also the largest city.
Continuously inhabited since the Paleolithic Age, the territory of modern-day Serbia faced Slavic migrations in the 6th century, establishing several regional states in the early Middle Ages . The Serbian Kingdom obtained recognition by the Holy See and Constantinople in 1217, reaching its territorial apex in 1346 as the Serbian Empire. By the mid-16th century, the Ottomans annexed the entirety of modern-day Serbia; their rule was at times interrupted by the Habsburg Empire, which began expanding towards Central Serbia from the end of the 17th century. In the early 19th century, the Serbian Revolution established the country as the region’s first constitutional monarchy which subsequently expanded its territory Following casualties in WWI, and the subsequent unification of the Habsburg crownland with Serbia, the country co-founded Yugoslavia with other South Slavic nations, which would exist in various political formations until the 1990s. During the dismantling of Yugoslavia Serbia formed a union with Montenegro which was dissolved peacefully in 2006, restoring Serbia’s independence as a sovereign state for the first time since 1918. In 2008, representatives of the Assembly of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence, with mixed responses from the international community while Serbia continues to claim it as part of its territory.
Serbia is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic. Since 2014, the country has been negotiating its EU accession with the aim of joining the EU by 2025. The country provides universal health care and free primary and secondary education to its citizens.
The red colour on the Serbian flag represents the blood shed for this country, the blue represents freedom, while the white represents mother’s milk feeding strong Serbian children.
Currency: The Dinar – 1 RSD = $0.0086 USD and $.011 CAD
Diesel: 216 RSD – about $1.85 USD per litre – $7 a gallon
EU License Plate Letter: SRB
The weather continues to be on the cool side – guess summer is over.
After we crossed the river border, it took us a few minutes as there were five cars ahead of us but it was no problem when we got to the window – a stamp in the passport and a goodbye, and we were on our way. Serbia seems pretty similar to Bosnia both in countryside and affluence and the language is equally incompressible. There are the same few good four lane highways and lots of secondary roads in pretty good shape for the most part.
As it’s now after 3 Fran found a different closer wild camp by the river that makes up the border and we made our way there and it was a lovely park area right on the river with a rock walkway for pedestrians:
Doug approached two young men with a car who were standing outside their car and asked if they felt it was okay if we stayed here and if it was safe. We’d found this place on park4night and others had done so but it always feels good to ask a local if we see one.
We positioned ourselves to get a view and settled in.
We enjoyed our Bosnian beer tonight.
Note we seemed to still have cell service as we were getting 4G while parked here. The BH Mobile sims we bought were supposed to offer roaming amoung the non EU Balkan countries so we shouldn’t have an issue.
Today we drove through five tunnels.
Next morning after packing up, we drove on to the capital city, Belgrade – we had a free parking area picked out already and after stopping at McDonald’s for Wi-Fi. Why you ask: because our SIM cards stopped working when we got away from the Bosnian border. Our plan was to find a cell phone store and ask about this and if necessary get another SIM. After a cold drink and 15 minutes on the Wi-Fi we left.
The parking lot we had in mind was in fact not free despite what park4night showed, but around the corner, the street parking was. We parked and then walked into the city starting at the further site we wanted to see with a A1 Mobile store enroute as well as an ATM. We’ve made a practice to not get too much local currency out but wanted some because we find especially, in Bosnia, that smaller places don’t always take card payment (and we are collecting coins from each country we visit for our grandkids and two nieces).
Nikola at the A1 shop, advised that he believed we would have had to purchase an add on to our SIM card to get roaming as that is what they offer as well. So we were basically screwed. We asked about his plans saying we only need a few days service. He offered us 20GB for three days for about $4 each! Sold.
By this time, mid morning, the sky was getting darker and we’d not brought our umbrellas so we were hurrying a bit. We made it to St. Stephens Cathedral – an orthodox church and it was beautiful inside and out.
Upon leaving it was beginning to sprinkle but not pouring so we carried on.
Next stop was the Nikola Tesla museum which was supposed to be closed on Monday but there was a line up and people told us it was open but for some reason (maybe lunchtime?) they were waiting outside.
We passed St. Marks and then walked a bit on a street of many historical buildings like:
The post office and more:
Now it’s raining more earnestly but still bearable as we make our way to Republic Square to see it and grab some brunch.
We found a sandwich shop/café where we had a nice fresh sandwich and some juice for lunch. By the time we were done, it had stopped raining and was drying up.
We made our way to the final ping on our map – the fortress.
Enroute we saw this large statue built by the Serbians in gratitude to France for its help in WWI.
Here we saw the fortification and the clock tower as well as a dino park as well as the Danube River once again.
We are now across the Sava River from our parking spot and since it’s not raining, we walk back to Minou debating where to spend the night. We could stay where we are but there’s lots of trees (not good for the solar) and there’s lots of bars and restaurants around so it could get noisy but maybe not on a Monday night.
Fran finds that the IKEA outside the city allows overnight parking (unlike most others we’ve come across) and there’s a mall there as well with a grocery store. We decide to head there as that way we don’t have to drive out of the city in the morning with traffic.
We arrive and see that between the IKEA and the shopping mall there is a large empty lot – we park there and then walk over to the grocery store to pick up a few things and then spend a quiet night.
While trying to park, we manage to hit a sign up high and bent it. We moved to a better spot with no obstructions. After we returned to Minou we heard a knock at the door; a man told us that we’d hit and sign and damaged it. Doug said he’d fix it. We thought he might tell us to leave as well but he did not. Doug got out the ladder and went over and got the sign straightened.
We saw a few “Yugo’s” while driving in Serbia.
Tuesday morning it was sunnier and was not supposed to rain. We began our drive eastward and had a few stops we wanted to make. Fran actually turned on the furnace this morning to get the chill out of Minou – it was 7C / 45F! She’s back to wearing socks and shoes (never puts her in a good mood!) and the jeans are back out.
We chose not to take the toll road for two reasons: it was actually longer and if they need cash, we are out of it. We had put the last few Dinara into the diesel tank not wishing to have any spare change. It took 6.25 litres to spend it all.
We drove towards Golubac Fortress along the Danube and caught a glimpse once in a while so we stopped for this photo with our zoom camera:
As we approached the site, Fran found out the ticket includes paying for parking and since we had decided not to visit the inside, we weren’t going to be able to stop and just take photos. Well, turns out it’s right beside the highway and we got some nice shots:
This is the start of the Derdap Gorge in the Derdap National Park – the longest breakthrough type gorge in Europe.
Đerdap National Park stretches along the right bank of the Danube River from the Golubac Fortress to the dam near Novi Sip, Serbia. In July 2020 the wider area of the national park was designated as the UNESCO global geopark, as the first protected area from Serbia labeled that way.
The main feature and attraction of Đerdap National Park’s natural beauty is the Đerdap gorge – the famous Iron Gate – the grandiose gateway through the southern slopes of the Carpathian mountains where the longest and biggest river accumulation in former Yugoslavia is located.
The Đerdap gorge, which is some 100 km (62 mi) long is actually a compound river valley made up of four gorges (Gornja klisura, Gospođin vir, Veliki and Mali kazan and Sipska klisura), separated from each other by ravines. In Gospođin vir, one of the greatest river depths in the world has been measured (82 m (269 ft)). The cliffs of the canyon in Kazan are about 300 m (980 ft) high while the riverbed in this part is narrowed down to 150 m (490 ft).
Now we made our way inland after 17 tunnels (one right under the fortress!) trying to get to the Vtarna Natural Bridges. Well it apparently wasn’t meant to be. Our navigation maps told us there was a route that included no dirt roads but after the second turn off the highway, in about 8 km / 5 mi there was a dirt road. Oh well, let’s see how bad it gets (this is not Tigger so we can’t just go anywhere anymore). Well the road was okay but after 4km we hit machinery digging up the road to install a culvert – no way around. Fran found an alternate route through a small town called Miroc and that road was paved but we weren’t sure about after that. So off we went, well we passed the town and in a few km’s we hit what we wouldn’t even call a road but a little further on there seemed to be another access point. This was dirt so we took it less than one kilometre before coming upon a couple of huge potholes with water and we felt Minou might just get stuck in that, so we turned around.
Disappointing especially since Serbia offered so few sites to visit. Oh well, not worth the chance and who knew if the road would continue to worsen. We turned around and headed back to the Danube.
We had a lovely drive through 4 more tunnels to a large picnic/rest area with an amazing view where we planned to spend the night. Our new 4G data still works here (Romania is just on the other side of the river) so we’ll hang for the afternoon doing as much online as possible. We are at the Kazan gorge and the view is spectacular:
We met a French couple, Flora and Julian, who’d just come from Romania and stopped here for lunch enroute to the Golubac Fortress and we chatted with them a bit before making our lunch. The sun popped out from time to time, we ate, did dishes and showered here.
Tomorrow we will cross the border and our EE sims should work again.
The drive along the Danube has been quite beautiful, sunny or not and the best part: there has been very few cars – summer travelers must have all gone home. The road is in excellent condition here as well. This road is also part of a 110 km / 69 mil bike trail known as Europe 6.
So in total we drove through 21 short tunnels today (with no lighting) and have driven a total of 446 km / 228 miles.
Fun facts about Serbia:
- Birthplace of Roman Emperors
- Not less than 17 of the great Roman emperors were born on the territory of today’s Serbia. The widely celebrated Roman emperor Constantine the Great was born in today’s city of Nis. He was the first to declare Christianity as an official religion.
- Serbia is the second largest exporter of Raspberries in the world. Besides raspberries, Serbia is the leading exporter of plums, prunes, apples and pears in Europe.
- The word ‘Vampire’ is derived from the Serbian word ‘Vampir’. It is the most widely used Serbian word throughout the world.
- Belgrade Is One of the Oldest Cities in Europe
- Archeological excavations have proven that human settlements had existed in Belgrade for more than 7000 years.
- ‘ic’ is the most common suffix of the Serbian last names. The suffix is a genuine Serbian patronymic and can be translated as ‘the offspring’.
- There is a river called Year, and it is called that because it is 365 meters long!
- Forget the Swiss clock; Serbia is the site of the clock invention, around 200 years before anywhere else
- The world’s first vampire? Do you think it’s Dracula? Wrong! The first vampire was Peter Blagojevic, from Serbia.
- Serbia regularly experiences earthquakes.
- The most expensive cheese in the world is made from donkey milk in Serbia, called Pule. It costs $576 for 1lb of cheese!