Trekking to Trebinje | A Hidden Adriatic Adventure.

Dubrovnik is definitely one of the largest jewels in the crown that is the Adriatic coast. The Old Town, which is drenched in history is a tourist’s heaven and the beaches, which offer complete relaxation, are a sun seeker’s dream. There is no wonder that it is the choice for thousands of visitors each year. However, If you want to escape from the many crowds of tourists from all over the world who pile into Dubrovnik from the cruise ships throughout the peak season, I have a suggestion for you. It’s better than being squashed up against the castle walls in the Old Town that’s for sure!

I’ve never been one for staying in the same place for too long, especially when it comes to travel. After spending a few days basking in the Adriatic delights of Dubrovnik I felt like I had experienced the city. I wanted to see where else I could visit. There are plenty of places near Dubrovnik that are easily accessible to travellers but I wanted to go somewhere off the beaten track. After some research and miles of walking around trying different car rental places – Tip: don’t leave it too late to rent a car! [1] I had decided that I was going to cross the border into neighbouring Bosnia just 12km from the city of Dubrovnik. Eager to start exploring I got into my car and drove up the winding roads, you had better watch out if you have vertigo because the roads just keep getting higher and higher. You are rewarded with a magnificent view of Dubrovnik so it was worth it even though my heart was in my stomach the whole trip! Bosnia was now just around the corner.

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As soon as I managed to pass the border guards (trouble free!) [2] I was able to continue my adventure. Instantly tour buses full of tourists, soft white beaches and sparkling seas disappear and I was greeted with towering mountainous landscapes as far as you could see and vineyards full of people harvesting in the beating sun. It’s hard to imagine how much things can change after travelling for just a few miles. Eventually I stopped the car in Trebinje the first town that I encountered. Approximately 30 minutes after I set off from Dubrovnik.

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After parking I managed to find a small market square. I was hit with an array of smells; fresh vegetables, meats and cheeses are spread out and a handful of people were trying to get me to buy their products. One woman told me how she made the cheese from her goat this morning. Next to her was another woman selling little fridge magnets with ‘Trebinje’ written on them, as well as over souvenirs. I wonder how many people have those in their kitchen back home in the UK. I wonder how many customers she gets a day because as far as I could tell we were the only visitors there. I continued to walk around the town deciding that I liked the place even more after getting a large beer for the equivalent of £0.70p. I realised that I needed to exchange my money because Croatia and Bosnia have different currencies, there are places in the Old Town that change to Bosnian Marka. However I did it at one of the banks in the market square. Now my Bosnian isn’t very good and the bankers English wasn’t very good either but we managed to communicate. I exchanged 200 Kuna which was more than plenty, by the end of the day I was practically giving it away.

After I had exhausted the market square I wondered around the outskirts of the town. Old churches are dotted everywhere rich with history. I crossed over a bridge which stands above the River Trebisnjica. The mountains still dominate the landscape making you feel pretty small in comparison. The deep blue of the river sparkles in the August sun and the lily pads lazily glide across the water. It’s a place you could stay all day, the tranquillity is what sells to me. I many ways it’s a misanthrope’s heaven as there are hardly any people except local Bosnian’s just going about their daily business.

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Walking in the sun had driven me to hunger so I made my way back to the market and stocked up with a wheel of goat’s cheese and bread from the woman whose stall I was looking at earlier – I would definitely recommend, her goat makes great cheese! There was a park in the centre of the town to enjoy my lunch. I found a spot next to a gleaming white church, which was surrounded by gardens and a pond. I sat there eating away on the grass with the sun beating down on me. Instead of people running around the place posing for photos there was families carrying their shopping chatting away to each other probably about what they were going to have their tea that evening. I continued to lay completely relaxed on the grass in my own little slice of paradise. Not a word of English heard or a tourist in sight.

 

 [1] When looking for car rental places make sure you do research beforehand to avoid dodgy dealers. Make sure you have all the correct documents with you in the vehicle. A Green card is required for road travel (this is especially important if you want to cross borders as the police will sometimes do checks just before you reach the Bosnian-Croatian border.)

[2] Make sure you are up to date on Visa information. UK nationals do not need a visa to enter Bosnia & Herzegovina for a total period of no longer than 90 days. (This will be different for other nationals – check with your government’s travel advice websites). Make sure you get your passport stamped upon entry to Bosnia as you may be fined when leaving the country if you don’t.

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