balkan, bosnia, experience, roadtrip, travel, Travelblog

Balkan road trip – part 4: “This is not west Europe!”

The previous part read here.

4.1 ODE TO SERBIAN POLICE

In the morning, we picked up two BlaBla guys and started a trip to Zagreb. We expected mess at the border but what happened there was far beyond imaginable. The idea was the same as the one in Slovenia – to get off highway and cross the boarder at a small crossing. Reading the news, I discovered that people had to wait for 4 hours to cross on the highway. Looking at the map, we found a place called Šid. We got there and found a couple of km straight road with only 100 m queue. Perfect, we all agreed. After 30 minutes of not moving from the spot, I figured out something was wrong.

A kilometer long queue formed behind us. People got nervous so they started passing the queue facing cars from the opposite direction and completely blocking the road. In that mess, we had to let around 20 cars to get in front of us. Visibly frustrated, everyone in front of us got out of the cars and started fighting with anyone from the end of line who tried to embed themselves somewhere in front. It caused even bigger mess. There was an angry truck driver who decided to put the whole truck on the road to stop cars rudly passing, bloking both directions. Others followed his example. Three vans of Italians tried to pass as well. Luca stopped them and said: „Guys, this is not Italy. Here, people will beat you up for doing this.“. They got scared and went back to the end of the line. After almost 2 hours of wonderment, we got close to the crossing.

There was one police officer standing on the fence, looking at the queue. He was so proud of himself for „finding a solution“ to clear the mess. He let 5 cars to pass, then one truck. Nobody saw ingeniousness in his „skills“. A furious driver asked him what the heck is going on. He said, and I quote again:

„What do you think this is?! West Europe? Never! This is Serbia! This is how things work here!“

I understood.

 

bosnianpolice

 

But that was not the end. I am Croatian, Luca is Italian, two guys with us were German and French. When we handed out passports for checking, police officer asked us why 4 different nations travel together. „We are friends“ – I answered as short as possible just to speed up the process. He continued asking what were we doing in Belgrade. „Turistic stuff.“ – I continued. There was trumpet festival in Guča, place almost 3 hours ride from the capital. He asked us why we did not go. I told him we had only a day and half which we used for exploring Belgrade and we had no time to go that far. He got so mad and started lecturing me how can I come to Serbia and miss the most important, and best so far, festival in the country. Honestly, non of us cared about the festival whatsoever.

Once we crossed the border, I was relieved.

4.2 BYE, MUM

One the way to Zagreb, we stopped in Požega at the gas station. Some Italians told us they had to wait for 7 hours to cross the border on the highway. So, we were actually lucky. Later that day, I found a girl who came at the border at 22:00 and crossed it at 06:00 the next day. She had to stay up all night moving slowly towards the border. Not only that. Once she crossed, she had to continue driving to Split, which is additional 7 hours of driving!

We got to Zagreb and spent the night at family friend`s hotel. The next day, we went to Plitvice to say goodbye to everyone. Tradition in Croatia demans giving gifts to family who is going home after visit. We got one bottle of plum rakija, a few big jars of homemade salads, ajvars, domestically produced vegetables, jams, a few kilos of homemade cheese, homemade cherry juice sirup, bottle of cornel liqueur… Big thanks to everyone!

4.3 (IL)LEGAL BORDER CROSSING

It was time to leave. Once again, we explored the map to find a place to cross the border. There was one road that seemed completely normal. Or that was just what we thought…

 

border

 

We got to some villages as it usually goes. Road was narrow, there was no people, houses were small, typical country side as we expected. At some point GPS send us off-road to some country sand passage. We followed the road and it took us to the woods. Road was just getting worse. At some point a fence appeared. There were doors, opened doors. Also, a sign saying „boarder“. We stopped. After 2 minutes of thinking about how many international laws we are breaking, we crossed. It is EU, we are EU citizens, nothing can happen. I was even thinking about stopping if we find road police and tell them where we enter to avoid possible problems. Luca told me to stop overthinking.

It has been 2  months now, nobody came knocking on our doors.

It took us only 10 hours to reach Rome. Extremely tired, we just took a shower and went to bed.

At the end, we had a nice time. Roadtrips are amazing. We met many nice people, saw new places and tried a lot of thing for the first time. There were many problems but it only made the trip more interesting. Bad situations in the present are reason to laugh in the future. It also makes my article funnier to write.

The only thing I would change is staying longer in the places we were visiting. To put a lot to scedule and did not manage to explore it to the core. Nevertheless, traveling is the best way to learn. We came back much happier and richer then we were.

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