Valley of the fortresses

I left Mostar in glorious sunshine to headed north to Jajce. A bit of a change from my original plan but I think it will work out better. Following the same river gorge I did on the train the previous week but for only 3/4 hour or so. Then headed north west, this time following the Rama river. Bosnia & Herzegovina as I have discovered is all about rivers, and valleys. The country is basically built around them.

I got as far as Prozor by mid morning and decided to have some breakfast at a roadside restaurant. Only me in there, but the cevapcici, yogurt and coffee were just what was needed. I consulted the map, and as I had had an early start (07:45) I decided to make a detour to a lake nearby, Ramsko Jezero to be exact. In the middle is a small island (Scit) inhabited by monks and it’s nickname is peace island. Apt I think. Surrounded by mountains and with very little wind and near silence it was a very relaxing place to relax for an hour. Wandering around the complex, some of it very new and also the watched the local women trying in vain to round up their cattle.

Back in the car and onwards north to Jajce, this time following the Vrbas river. As I drove along slowly but surely the vegetation became greener and more lush compared to arid (by comparison) climate of Mostar. Cultivated fields of hay for the few livestock the farmers have. White cabbages for sale at the side of the road along with honey. All of the valley sides are filled with trees. Up here they are taller and thicker. But with the cooler air they were just losing their rich thick green and the lighter greens beginning to show as a precursor to full autumn. The temperature has also dropped, from 25 degrees in Mostar to 15 degrees in Jajce.

The accommodation in Jajce was easy enough to find with a little technical help from Google. The room was right next to the “Bear tower” part of the medieval city ramparts. So called due to its very strong construction, walls 7m thick at the base. Bags in room it was time to get the guidebook out head for tourist information for a map and explore the great little town. Catacombs, mosques, gatehouses, more ramparts to climb on and a 13th century fortress at the very top. Very very enjoyable, lots to see. There is also a wonderfully picturesque waterfall on the outskirts of town that is on every picture you will see of the town.

The town appears to have everything going for it, but for a lack of people. Whether I have come out of season I do not know but considering what it has to offer there were very few people about at all, even locals. Lots of cafes and chairs though, all empty. With the help of tourist information again, I was recommended a restaurant right on the city walls. Some hearty, soup and goulash. Just what I wanted. I even had breakfast there again this morning it was that good.

Whilst reading all my literature on the town I noticed that the quaint water mills on Pliva river were only 5KM away. A place I had wanted to visit but was not sure where they were, or if I had time to visit them. I did make time first thing this morning. They are 2M square wooden huts on stilts set in the rapids between 2 lakes on the Pliva river. There are about 15 or so of them. In days gone by you bought your grain down and had it milled here. The only payment being a 10% tax by volume of the flour produced.

Onwards then to Travnik, only an hours drive. Once again this is an old town in its heyday around 15th century when the Ottomans were here. Similar fortifications no an even more extensive fitness at the top of the town. This town was relatively untouched by the civil war and has a mix of all faiths, mosques, churches and cemetery that is multi ethnic. Quite a mix. Lots more wandering around the ramparts no the buildings. Yet again people have been very hospitable and helpful with directions or when trying to buy this from the shops, recommendations for food. Trout tonight. I then headed into town for the evening and found a shisha bar (no alcohol) to relax in with a few espressos and an iced tea. Filled with locals who were much younger than me. I even got chatting to them about my travels and a bit of football.