High, Low, and End

Today marks the 61st day that I’ve spent outside of the UK traveling out of the 123 days total since I came here after winter break. That’s 50% of study abroad.

The previous written post was password protected (same one as the first protected post). Ask me for the password if you’d like to read it.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Pulled Over Again

I didn’t think the car was speeding but often speed limits are 20 mph or something ridiculously slow here. This time they asked to see documents, which made me pretty nervous. Then, he said “passport.” I gave it to him. He didn’t speak English but it was obvious that he was asking what the destination was, probably to satisfy his curiosity more than anything else. I could’ve answered but quite frankly I was tired of talking with him so I just shrugged and said “English. I don’t understand” and then he let me go. Works every time.

I only got to spend one day in BIH because the car’s registration expired the next day and it needed to be swapped out in Croatia. Not so fun fact about BIH: there is an official advisory to stay on marked roads and paths because they still haven’t cleared all of the landmines from the war. No hiking for me.

Mostar

Mostar is set on a river, surrounded on 3 sides by mountains. The river splits the city in two – one side Croat and the other side Muslim/Bosniac. Minarets rise up all over that half and at 8p, I heard the call to prayer. It was pretty surreal hearing it over and over again at different volume levels as it echoed through the city. The next morning it was 85 degrees and packed with tour groups and was the most uncomfortable I’d been since it was sweaty in Sevilla.

Neretva River
Neretva River
Stari Most (Old Bridge) - Most is also the root of the city name Mostar. It was bombed out in the breakup of Yugoslavia and has since been rebuilt.
Stari Most (Old Bridge) – Most is also the root of the city name Mostar. It was bombed out in the breakup of Yugoslavia and has since been rebuilt.
Mosques on the east side of Mostar
Mosques on the east side of Mostar

Croatia

The drive on State Road D512 cutting into the cliffs was pretty cool.

You can see the road on the side of the upper mountain
You can see the road on the side of the upper mountain

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Makarska

Very similar to Dubrovnik and Cavtat. Just a nice quaint Croatian beach town.

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Biokovo Mountain and Sveti Jure

It’s a 23 km road that goes up to the region’s highest peak – over a mile up in elevation 1,762 meters. The entire road is between 1.2 and 1.5 cars in width so reversing to let someone pass happened pretty often. Pictures speak louder than words here – it was just a marathon for 15 miles each way of hairpins, twists, and cliffs.

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Get out of the way
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Curvy
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I like this one
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And this one
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I can see my house from here
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Made it to the top and its parking lot of 6 spots. Looks like a rocket ship.
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It’s a view of a view
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Snow chains is cheating re: my previous post
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There was a narrow path around the top of the peak
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And a locked church
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Maybe my favorite road picture so far
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That must be how maintenance workers get to the tv transmitting station thingy when its winter and you can’t go by vehicle
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There was also a hike you could take to reach a peak of 1400ish meters from the end of the road near that bunch of trees.
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Overlooking Makarska
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And views of the channel islands and Split if it were clearer

An Early End to my Trip

Unfortunately, at some point after Sveti Jure, I got food poisoning or the flu, not quite sure which since I don’t think I’ve had either before. I’m definitely not going to provide TMI here but let’s just say that I’ve had better days and it’s hard to imagine what it’s like to be alone and sick unless you’ve been in a similar situation. The existence of Skype helps a lot and parents that listen to you complain.

At this point I ran out the proverbial clock of my trip. I spent a whole afternoon and evening in Split 200 meters from the center of town but was too weak to leave my bed. My host Elena and her mom were very helpful and gave me soup and tea while I didn’t eat real food for 24 hours. We had really fun, broken English conversation that served as a good distraction and watched Cosmos with Croatian subtitles and Champions League highlights.

I did walk around like a zombie through Split the following morning and there was some festival where everyone in the entire city was on the waterfront near the old town. It was the May 7 celebration and feast day of Split’s patron St. Domnius. There were hundreds, maybe over a thousand, makeshift shops and stalls and balloons everywhere, and a huge concert-type stage set up for a religious service.

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Split, Croatia

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I also travelled through Plitvice Lakes National Park (aka Eden, look up pictures) but since walking around Split was pretty unenjoyable, I decided to leave Eden unspoiled and instead lied to myself that I’ll be back another day.

Done

So at this point I’m 100% ready to go back home as you can imagine. I’m thankful that I was able to make it through the entire trip without getting really ill until now and it’s good that it comes at the end as opposed to the middle or beginning. I’ve written the last three (including this one) posts with the dizzying buzz of not really knowing what’s going on so quality may have suffered but again this is a good distraction.

I’m now at the end of my 28 day, 3, 000 mile trip through the Balkans, sitting in my dorm room after flying back to London from Zagreb. Click on the link above to see the exact path that I took and all of the places I’ve visited if you’d like.

I’ll write a retrospective post or two at some point when I’m able to think straight, but this is my final “what I did” post as I am done doing stuff.

Counter

  • 28,101– Words written on this blog so far (Animal Farm, A Christmas Carol, Of Mice and Men, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory all hover around 30,000 words which is why it’s ok that you haven’t read all of my posts and it is also the reason I didn’t really focus on sentence structure or anything or else it would be like editing a book)
  • 25 – UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Westminster, Tower of London, Kew Gardens, Sintra, Tower of Belem, Stonehenge, Bath, Serra de Tramuntana, Sevilla Cathedral and Alcazar, Toledo, Brú na Bóinne, Swiss Alps Jungfrau, Florence, Pisa, Venice, Skocjan Caves, Rila Monastery, Ohrid, Butrint, Gjirokastër, Kotor, Dubrovnik, National Park Durmitor, Mostar, Split)
  • 9 – Personal phone numbers that I’ve used as my primary number on study abroad (+44 7598736659 [UK], +44 7404245455 [UK old], +1 310-809-2668 [USA], a +1 (661) number on Skype, +351 915-406-195 [Portugal], +34 602-695-139 [Spain old], +34 611-291-985 [Spain new], + 41 76-735-8909 [Switzerland], +39 3273549533 [Italy])
  • 8 – Football matches (Crystal Palace x2, West Ham, Tottenham, Sporting Lisbon, Arsenal, FC Luzern, England National Team)
  • 7 – Airlines flown (United, British Airways x6, Ryan Air x3, Air New Zealand x2, airberlin, Easy Jet, American) (incl flight home)
  • 11 – Currencies used (British Pound, Euro, US Dollar, Swiss Franc, Croatian Kuna, Serbian dinar, Romanian leu, Bulgarian lev, Macedonian dinar, Albanian lek, Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark)
  • 17 – Countries (UK, Portugal, USA [it counts], Spain, Ireland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • 31 – Times crossing a national border
  • 13 of 20 – Passport pages used
  • 61 of 123 – Days of study abroad spent outside the UK (through May 9)
  • 6,440 (4,840 in the Balkans) – Kilometers travelled
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