Traveling through the country is always multifaceted; we experience it ourselves, and we are surrounded by nature, settlements, locals, animals … After our last experience in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, we believe that meeting people – locals who have been cultivating the Balkan soil for decades, is a more important component than in the case of traveling through more touristic countries. Using the example of one day, we will describe why we think so.
“Whenever you want! If it’s at 7:00 a.m., let it be at 7:00 a.m.,” answered the owner of a house in Sjenica, in which she rents out a few rooms from this year, when asked when we can have breakfast. When I went to prepare the bikes for the next trip in the morning, at 6:40 she was already walking from one kitchen to another (outside) kitchen. Inside she was putting different kinds of cheeses and pickled vegetables on plates, outside she was frying ‘uštipci’ (a kind of fried bread) and fresh green peppers, and under the tablecloth, freshly baked homemade bread was cooling. At 6:58, the table was so full that we couldn’t finish it. But she wrapped up some uštipci, cheese and some dried meat for us to go on our way. Here, we had lunch.
Early in the afternoon, there were signs of a storm coming from the west. We were late with the day’s plan, a little earlier we found ourselves on a path we wouldn’t have liked to see under a five-and-a-half-meter van. Slowly, it worked. But the scene before the rain is fantastic; we are on a high plateau, the Albanian and Montenegrin mountains can be seen in the distance, covered with snow, and we are in the screaming green mountains, overgrown with juniper and pine and spruce. We MUST take some photos and videos here! We stop near a lonely house, prepare the camera and walkie-talkie and start working. If I wasn’t really in a hurry because of the coming rain, I would first go and ask if I could park at the house, but … A minute later, when the cyclists were already moving away, a lady greets me from the porch and asks if we want coffee. Oh, please, thank you!
By the time the shots are finished and the bikes are stowed back in the van, the house already smells of strong coffee, and there is sparkling water, some candy, and slices of dried beef on the table. We talked about life in these remote places, about where the five daughters moved to, how they are waiting for a better road and how many cyclists pass by here. They refused to accept the payment.
In the evening, just a few kilometers before our last checkpoint of the day, we wanted to see the possibility of accommodation in a small village. An elderly man was outside making rakija and called his son from the house to ask for information about rooms. After a short conversation right through the windows of the van, we decided to stay right here, in the village. And here – again, in a few minutes, in addition to the promised clean beds, the table was full of homemade goodies, bread, meat, and fresh vegetables. And of course, glasses for rakija as we finished driving for the day.
You guys are just great. We will be back!