11/12/2013 – 132 days/13727 miles

I spent a day checking out some of the sights around Mostar. The first was the village of Medjugorje, a popular sight for many Catholics. In 1981, 6 local children claimed to see the Virgin Mary atop a hill outside of town…I’d be curious to know if any of their families were in the hotel or rosary manufacturing business…

Many people claim to feel something supernatural when they are in the area. One guy I met in Mostar who is a self proclaimed recovering Catholic even said he’s even had an strange feeling about him on the hilltop. He chalks it up to being in the presence of so many people with so much positive energy.
I climbed up the hill where the Virgin Mary had been spotted, but all I felt was sweaty.

Blagaj was much more interesting. The Buna river starts in this town, fed by a karstic spring. This may not seem all that interesting, until you see the insane volume of water coming out of this spring (30m^3/s or 1059ft^3/s)
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There’s a couple little restaurants right on the river…
…and one in the river.
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While I was riding around, I came across the bridge and road that were under construction…weird to see such a huge road that was completely empty
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The next day (Nov. 9th) I left Mostar. This also happened to be the 20th anniversary of the destruction of the old bridge, so I stuck around for the morning. At 10:10am there was a brief and somber memorial…children gathered on the bridge and dropped roses into the river, then two locals jumped in.
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The sound when they hit the water was enough to make me cringe…turns out 25 meters is a long drop (for reference, google tells me that olympic high dives at 10 meters)

The drive out of Mostar was absolutely incredible…fun road with stunning scenery.
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Passing through Jablanica, I saw a really interesting WWII memorial (to go along with a museum).
I heard two different stories about this bridge before seeing it…the first was that it blown up by the Partisan Army as a train full of Nazis was crossing it (During the Battle of Neretva), the second, that it was blown up during the filming of a movie about the Battle of Neretva. In both cases, the remains of the bridge were left as is.

With a little bit of research online, this is what I’ve come up with…keep in mind my lack of expertise…I took a couple pictures, and read about it for a few minutes.
During the actual Battle of Neretva in WWII, Nazis had the Partisans were surrounded, and their only escape was to cross the river. Unfortunately, the bridge was heavily guarded by the Chetniks (who were resisting the Axis Powers, and also fighting the Partisans…wtf?), so they basically had nowhere to go. The Partisans blew up the bridge (sort of), and when the Nazis saw this, they changed the course of their attack, knowing that Partisans were confined to the west bank. Turns out, the Partisans were crafty…they hadn’t caused serious damage to the bridge, so with some quick repairs, they were able to cross. Meanwhile the German plans had all gone to hell, buying them extra time. Across the bridge, the Chetniks were caught off guard and no longer as large of a threat. The Partisans crossed the bridge while under fire from the Luftwaffe, and after the air assault, the bridge was no longer useable.
After the war, the destroyed bridge was replaced, and in 1969, during the filming of “The Battle of Neretva,” the director was somehow given approval to destroy the bridge. The first take of the destruction didn’t turn out as expected, so they rebuilt the bridge and took a second run at it, which again was no good. They eventually used a model in the studio to get the shot, and the bridge they destroyed was left as is. Today, a memorial has been built up around it.

And here’s another WWII memorial (kinda?) near the town of Prozor, built in 1978 in honor of the Yugoslav Partisans.
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And a picture of what it originally looked like.
It’s clear that some of these monuments were abandoned and have fallen into disrepair…but its pretty obvious that this one was destroyed. All I could find about it was that it was blown up with explosives during the night on 12/13 November 2000, and the case remains unsolved.

On the way to Sarajevo, I stopped in Visoko, location of the Bosnian Pyramids. Having never heard of them until a few days before, I didn’t really know what to expect.
Around Visoko there are some hills that were once thought to be (and still are, by many archeologists) natural. In 2005, Semir Osmanagić hypothesized that they could actually be man made, and since then, has found evidence to support this hypothesis. However, the archeological community questions much of his evidence, and many say that his findings have been fabricated.
Regardless of whether or or not he’s right, it’s a pretty interesting sight, just due to the fact they look much more geometrically perfect than your typical hill.
Along with the artificial looking shape, Osmangić says that the sides of the three main pyramids align, and the peaks of the same three pyramids form an equilateral triangle.
Excavations have supposedly shown that there are tunnels inside as well. Starting in a cave that was in one of the hillsides, Osmangić’s team continued digging. They claim the sediment they removed is different than the rock walls of the tunnel, which “proves” they were dug millenia ago, and have since been filled in with this sediment…but who knows…maybe they’re just digging brand new tunnels.
Either way, it was neat to see.

The weather in Sarajevo was cold and wet, which put a bit of a damper on checking out many of the sights, but it forced me to get some stuff figured out in regards to my upcoming flight from Istanbul to Mumbai, which I needed to spend a couple days getting squared away anyway.
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Definitely quite a bit of damage still present from the war
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This bridge requires quite a bit of speed to cross…
Latin Bridge, the sight where Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, starting WWI
Vraca Park, built in 1981 and dedicated to the WWII victims in Sarajevo. In 1996, when the Serbian army was withdrawing from the city after the Dayton Agreement, they destroyed the park on the way out.
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Now I’m just outside of Durmitor National Park in Montenegro…Weather was a little rainy and foggy for the ride here, but the views were still incredible.

3 thoughts on “11/12/2013 – 132 days/13727 miles

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