“Is it safe there?” was a common query when we announced our trip to Slovenia and Croatia. I kept saying things like ” For heavens sake we aren’t going to Bosnia! Well as it turns out we ended up in Bosnia-Herzegovina albeit for a brief stay on our way to Dubrovnik. When we purchased our tickets for the four hour bus ride south there was certainly no mention of this extra stop or the need to have one’s passport at the ready. Luckily my documentation has almost become tattooed to my mid section since it’s early disappearing act with my iPad so I am prepared at all times.
The bus ride went smoothly for two and some hours. Dave took this typical photo of me. What do you suppose I am doing? ( Possibly researching what to do about those wrinkles in my neck! )
About one hour into the ride the bus pulled toward what seemed like a toll booth and then did a wide U-turn to stop and pick up a gentleman standing at the side of the road. With briefcase in hand he boarded and proceeded to make it clear to the young man in the front seat that he was to vacate immediately. The bewildered twenty something tourist grabbed his belongings and high tailed it to the back of the bus…only to leave his cell phone behind in his scurrying. That brought on some more waving from briefcase man and a meeting mid aisle for the exchange.
Not long after, with no explanation from the driver, the bus pulled into what looked like a toll booth with several lanes. With multiple police on scene it became apparent this was not an ordinary stop. What ensued was a police officer from Bosnia-Herzegovina boarding our bus. Most passengers looked wide eyed and finally brief case man hollered “Passports!” It was clear we weren’t the only surprised passengers as great digging through baggage and rustling through papers ensued throughout the bus. It took some time until the surly inspector was satisfied he had checked each persons documentation and off we went. You will forgive me for not having photos of this encounter as I felt such activity would postpone my return to Canada.
After traveling just a few kms we stopped again and the driver announced we would have a twenty minute break. So the gang all piled out for a visit to an unexpected country. Most of the passengers, who were obviously tourists seemed quite surprised by the chain of events. The driver and brief case man looked at everyone as if to say “Good grief you people are idiots. How did you think we would get to Dubrovnik?!”
Check out the map below to see the tiny piece of coast named Neum corridor belonging to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Negotiated at the end of the Balkan war, this tiny access to the sea means any roads connecting Croatia to its pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik, must pass through here.
The photo at the top of today’s post is Bosnia-Herzegovina’s 20 kms of coastline. Across the peninsula, in view of these high end homes , is a huge Croatian symbol. It didn’t take much to figure out that 20 years post war these two countries have strong feelings about loyalty to their flags.
After twenty minutes the confused group was herded back on to the bus. Turns out briefcase man now took on the role of bus driver and the previous driver sat in the front seat where brief case man was prior to our time out. A few kms later we arrived at the Croatian border crossing. The Croat police officer boarded and this time passports came whipping out obediently and efficiently from all. He glanced around the bus, nodded and that was it for the customs inspection. We could have been waving postcards apparently.
We have no idea why the second driver was picked up at the side of the road or why the drivers switched in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Any ideas out there? One could speculate that the drivers represented the nationalities from both countries? Maybe it was just shift change? Maybe brief case man had a car breakdown and was left in pretty much the middle of nowhere looking for a lift? In exchange for the ride he had to help the other driver. We are clueless on the answer and definitely felt it not appropriate to ask. It takes a lot for me to not ask questions….just ask my traveling friends.
While we await your thoughts I leave you with some evening photos from Dubrovnik.