The day started with a squeeee! I mean I'm usually happy when I wake up but this morning had a more than unusually exciting start. You can stop sniggering at the back - my thrill was innocent. As I was coming out of the gate to head to Split's main bus station, I bumped into Milo who was off to work. He offered me a ride on his scooter down the road, so hopping on, the poor man had a middle aged woman giggling all the way. Made my morning anyway!
And it had only just begun. The reason for the early start was a trip to a new capital - Sarajevo. I've not been international since Ancona; Zagreb and islands don't count apparently. The thing about travelling is the endowment of optimism that it brings. Even seven hours on a bus with chronic period pain leaves me fairly undaunted, after all, what can you do? Armed with bus wifi, glorious scenery and a very curious destination, what would await me?
The journey passed by uneventfully by anyone's standards. Very few people were travelling and it was leisurely. Some parts of the road were familiar - the route went through Jabuka where I'd been invited to be a Roman Queen of Football during a first communion party lunch. I don't know, it's a long story and there was honeyed wine involved. I started to get excited around the Croatian-Bosnian border crossing. I've mentioned before about my fascination with crossings. There is something profound about them, especially when they are on land and, in this case, leaving the EU. What can I say I'm an island woman!?
The second pit stop was in a curious place. The first place - Livno - had a loo and a cold bracing wind but still felt quite Dalmatian. However that strange 'over the mountain' moment had occurred and we were definitely in a different country. Bugojno was where it was. Here I didn't need to go but would have killed for a coffee. Turns out I am as daft as I look - I had no Bosnian cash. So I stretched my legs by taking a walk round the place, and was immediately accosted by a gentleman. For five minutes, what is it with service stations?! He was looking for a nice gentle woman to marry apparently. Some could say he was barking up he wrong tree.
After more stunning scenery and some seriously medieval farming techniques, it curiously started to feel more reminiscent of home. Mosques were sharing squares with churches; and the damp weather was closing in. It could have been east London on a normal weekday afternoon. Clearly in diversity there is familiarity, and even the language is becoming easier to read, whereas the Arabic at home is more foreign to me! My head is still spinning though and until Thursday evening, had not yet been brought to a standstill by a real conversation.
With about two hours to go it was all change. For some reasons at Kaćuni we all got off and moved to a new bus. The was also a useful loo - resigned to no coffee - and we continued on. The countryside was resolutely green and cultivated. This was like no city suburb I've ever seen! Even as we reached a motorway, it was still kitchen gardens all the way. Until we hit new Sarajevo and it became beautifully grim; the light had been eaten up by the hungry functional grey.
The pock marked bus station is incredible. And frankly I'm dreading going back there! Which I have to do at some point as I have no ticket home; one way was all Split bus station would sell me...what are they saying? Clutching everything I scuttled from the station, into the drizzle, and followed the map into town. By the time I found my apartment I was utterly blown away by this place; the monumental architecture, the misty mountains, the river, and those ancient rattling squealing trams.
With that I disappeared into my perfect haven of a top floor apartment! As I unpacked I realised the pile of clean underwear was still in Split. Adult supervision once again lacking, but how I found myself knickerless in Sarajevo is the name of my book. My day hadn't yet ended but the meat and rice, and sweet Turkish tea in the Han is definitely part of the next day's more exotic story. Such is the mystery of Sarajevo...