More days + more places + more people + more incidences = stronger feelings! If the trip goes on like this, I am seriously considering not to go back home! ( just kidding, dad 😉 ). I would have left yesterday for Ljubljana (Slovenia), but I said “no, no more input – sit down, concentrate and write”. Recall, describe, create images – embed photos, edit videos, upload.
So here I am, 25 days far from home – this trip so far is magical – it’ s just so good. No, I don’t have much time to explore my surroundings and go to museums, read books, and get lost in the city BUT the people I meet and hang out, and the hours riding close to nature are very rewarding. It’s wonderful to meet all these beautiful locals that want to help you or just meet you. What I also enjoy is that this trip is revealing to me the best version of myself. Along with the happiest and most smiley Angelos of me, comes the most kind and the most calm, the least anxious and the most feeling-good-with-my-body. And this, I see, is kind of happening in others too – in people I meet along the way. When I am telling them I am travelling around with my bike – yes what you see here, I began from Greece, and here I am – they wanna help you, meet you, ask you, be good at you. The epitome, though, of my better version described above is not this better state of me in itself – it is the realisation that “yes, reality can be so good – happiness can be that much – there is a better Angelos hidden inside me”. I am keeping that part for my future: Do not compromise with mediocrity.
I am getting better day by day. Stronger both physically and mentally. As far as the first part is concerned, I am a lot more confident. After the first 60 km riding, I feel that my body is getting in a mode “ah, it’s one of these days – ok, let’s do it”. Two days ago I had 199 km (no mountains included) relatively easy. I was tired on my arrival in Zagreb, but considering that the night before I leave I had a looot of beers, woke up with hang over, had 2.5/3 batteries charged and ate nothing during the 11 hour long ride – well, I am myself surprised..!
(Now, if you are asking why I ate nothing during such a long ride… This is because my Bosnioherzegovinian money was over and I didn’t want to exchange more, as I had exceeded the limit I ‘ve set to myself for the days I spent in Bosnia-Herzegovina twice. What I did is the following: I had 10 little sugar sacks I had taken from a coffee shop. I poured them into my water and I was drinking every once in a while – not the best, of course, but worked out)
Now, what do I mean by getting mentally stronger: I am getting more and more acquainted with the nomad’s “modus vivendi”. I finally found what is the best place for every little thing into my bags, what I need to have quick access to when I ride, what I will need first when I reach a destination, what is in need of charge and at what battery level all my devices are, how much food I need and how I am gonna save more money, what is in need of laundry, how to allocate time in my day etc… Little, important, every-day stuff.
On Friday the 13 of November I left Kotor, Montenegro in order to enter Bosnia and Herszegovina. I was again late in leaving the house, but right after my exit through the door, I was amased by what I saw… I said “Woohoo, that’s a nice day to ride”!!
That day was exhausting. There was a lot of climbing and I was also experimenting a bit with my batteries. In this journey I had my first dog-chasing experience somewhere in a mountain, and guess what – it wasn’t me chasing dogs..
* ( I am shouting in the video – it is for dogs to get scared. Unsuccessful. )
** ( I am also swearing – sorry about that 🙂 )
After a loooong time I finally reached the village of Гацко (Gacko – Gátsko). It was in the middle of my route to my final destination, Sarajevo, so I just spent one night there. But what a night. Right on my arrival, I asked 3 young men on the street if there is any hotel around, and just a second later I paraphrased: hotel – hostel – sleep – bed, accompanying with the appropriate body language.. They got the message and their answer was “ne, ne, ne” – I was really happy, as I was afraid that there would be no place to sleep (and sleeping didn’t matter as I can sleep wherever I want with my amasing camping equipment. Charging was the issue). But wait a second, just remembered that while “ne” in Greek is “yes” in Serbian is “no” – Urgh I went to a bakery (pekara) and asked again. Of course nobody understood English, but one lady told me about a pansion, that I had to search and God knows if I could ever find it. On my way out of the Pekara, 2 boys (14 years old) approached me cheerfully saying “biciklo, biciklo” (bitsiklo) – we body-language-talked for a bit and I left. After 2 minutes (I guess after their visit in the pekara) they came back running and calling me to follow them. For some time we were looking for the pansion, negotiating the price, finding another pansion (10 euros for a 3 bed-room, all for me), helping me with the bicycle, carrying my stuff in the room etc.. So, after all these, I asked them if they wanna join me to eat something together and let me pay in return for their welcoming. They din’t accept me paying but we went together to the pekara hot-spot of Gacko.
First thing I checked: the prices were not in Euro – oh my God – so many delicious bakery products that I couldn’t buy!! Not accepting cards (of course), no banks in Gacko, no ATMs, nothing. The kind lady there, after I bodylanguage explained how tired I am and how hungry blabla she accepted euros and I bought for less than 2,5 euros: 1 big slice of pizza, 1 big peynirli , 1 medium donut and 1 medium chocolate crepe… I was that hungry. In the pekara hot-spot I met many young friends of these 2 kind boys and we spent the next 2 hours together. Fortunately, one of these kids spoke some English. We played chess in the local club and we had a lot of fun walking around and taking pictures. They taught me one new word in Serbian: пријатељ (prijatelj – priatel – friend).
Next day, Saturday the 14th, I left to Sarajevo. I wanted to be there by nighttime cause next day was Sunday and I’d like to go to church at Sarajevo Cathedral. Well… that was the most mountainous day so far….. 3214 meters elevation gain! Or, better, 3214 meters elevation pain! And because my batteries couldn’t last for all these 140 km I was very very tight in their use. I couldn’t actually believe what I was doing (Friday and Saturday combined, I climbed for 5727 meters – that’s like climbing the highest Greek moutain, Olympus, twice!). And there’s more, I finally reached Sarajevo with just 2/3 batteries used). Why I didn’t use the 3rd battery? Cause I wasn’t sure of the elevation profile of my route? And why I was unsure? ….Because the GPS decided to take me from an unpaved road (from a trail actually) in the Sutjeska Nationalni Park, that I simply couldn’t ride… So, I had to make a circle and I was afraid that if I find a mountain too steep I won’t be able to climb it. Check out how Sutjeska Nationalni Park looks like (amazing) and how I spent two hours there (not amazing – but OK)……
*(I would suggest Full HD and Full Screen ;-))
I reached Sarajevo – went straight for a beer => wi-fi access => found hostel (5 euros per night for sleeping on the floor – sound good to me). After the very tiring 2 past days I got some rest there, I went to church on Sunday (started at 10, and I was there at 8 :/), had a small tour around the city and spent some time on-line.. In Sarajevo hostel I met a truly nice guy – his name is Lee and I hope I ‘ll tell you some more things about him at some point. We had very nice and thought provoking chats but what stroked me the most (apart from his travelling lifestyle per se) was his view on the future and on Artificial Intelligence. He believed that, in some years from now, after we find out how memory mechanisms function and how neurons actually do their work we will be able to store our memories and…. kind of upload our consciousness online!!! This sounded so awkward, but after some time with Lee and his technological insights I started to see that this is not that impossible…
I left Sarajevo on Tuesday the 17th and wanted to reach Zagreb. Because this was approximately 400 km I had to find a place to sleep and charge somewhere in the middle. Checked the map and I saw Banja Luka, Googled it and thought it would be a great middle point. My time in Banja Luka was just… awesome, and my way to Banja Luka was just… crazy. Before I left Sarajevo I had checked the elevation profile of my route. It was 180 km with a mountain in the middle. The good part was that from the 102nd to the 180th km it was all a downward slope…! So I was like, ok, I can spend my 3 batteries on the first 100 kms, going really easy, and then just let it go.. However, I didn’t opt for this as I had learned my lesson from my first night in Montenegro (mountain & no battery & night) and I was tight again – thank God! So, on the 100th km, right before the end of the mountain, the road got unpaved, and I was like “ok, it’s gonna be for a little bit, no worries”. But after some meters, I saw that..
I was like hmm….okay… now what?
I found some carpenters/ guards there and I said “Banja Luka, this way??”, showing my way into the forest…. “Ne ne…neeee” they were saying, making movements about the bad condition of the road later, about getting darker, and one of them actually scared me so much as he was doing like a bear: face and sounds…. You know, forest, night, bears, you don’t want that… So, I checked the gps and what they were suggesting was…. doing a 180 km circle in order to reach Banja Luka, going my way back and taking another route…! Right upon my realisation that “Houston, we’ve got a problem”, another 50yo guy arrived with his car.. he listened to the conversation and told me in flawless body-language that he will take me to 3uffwafiyaw – I didn’t understand. He went fishing, I packed my stuff, had a talk with the guards and waited for his coming. Some time later we put bike and stuff in the car and left to… no idea! Somewhere close to Banja Luka I guessed. We spent 1 and a half hour in the car (!) – he was speaking in Serbian, I was speaking in Greek… We had great time.. He was muslim and he was telling me how sorry he was about Paris, and how we all have to live together. (as this is the case in Bosnia – Herzegovina), he was teaching me how Serbian language is pronounced after my reading of all the labels in the street. He also said many more things that I couldn’t understand, but he nonetheless was kept talking. We reached the restaurant he was fishing for, somewhere in the mountains, 65 km from Banja Luka, he bought a coffee for me and I left… I had 3.5 hours in the mountains, with no cars at all. The moon the stars and myself – enjoyed.
Upon my arrival in Banja Luka, I was really amased by the црква (crkva – tsrkva – church) of Christ the Saviour at the central plaza. Had no time though to take a closer look as I had to find a hostel. I had the address of a place, but no hostel was there.. I was really tired and looking around the center (centar – tsentar) but couldn’t find, so I asked someone on the street… And that was it! I asked Alexander… We walked together to the hostel, meet his two friends, Yovan and Ponytail (I couldn’t learn his name!), we started talking outside the hostel – they offered pivo (beer), I offered my almond liquor that my Aunt Roula had given it to me… After rejecting the hostel (they asked for 15 euros) we left to drink a beer together! Alexander hosted me at his place, where Yovan also was staying for the time… We had such a good time. They had consumed a good amount of alcohol by the time I met them and Alexander was street-dancing and shouting “orthodox brothers – orthodox brothers” (they were Orthodox Christians too). Paok- partizan – olympiakos came into our conversation and.. It was so fun – I cannot explain. We reached home (Alexander’s mother was not so happy to see me – he was saying about terrorist, refugee, I didn’t really understand, but I am grateful that she finally let me in..)
Now, I didn’t tell you that Yovan had forgotten his bag in the bar we had the beer at, and the bag was lost!!! He had in the bag something like 300 euros in Bosnioherzegovinian money (for the university) and all of his documents and other important stuff, so next day he was very upset. We spent all morning with Yovan and his friend Slobodan to find the crni ranac (tsrne ranats – black bag) – we followed the exact route we had yesterday, went to the bar, went to the post office (lost and found there), to the central police, to the neighborhood police, to the schools nearby… And finally we found it!!! It was at the neighborhood police – more than half of the money inside and all the documents. Someone stole it, took the money (he found) and left it on the street. Now, the nearby school principal called the police, cause there was a crni ranac unattended, and the bag went to the police! Haha! We spent the next 12 hours drinking and celebrating. I met Branka, friend of Yovan, who was so good in history and was explaining to me about the area, about the post-yugoslavia situation, language, Christian-Muslim and ethnic relations… I enjoyed my time so much!! At night we went to a live rock concert at the university where we danced and had great time!!!! So happy I met them and so grateful for everything!!!!! 😀
Now, chilling at the wonderful Zagreb! 😀
Enjoy the pictures below and let me know in the comments what you like the most in the post! Kisses to all – tomorrow Ljubljana!