Today has been pretty magical from start to finish. Waking up in a hotel room proved pleasant, as did my omelette breakfast. The air was bitingly sharp as I started my ride, but direct sunlight provided some warmth. The scenery slowly transitioned from simply beautiful to mind-blowingly gorgeous as I climbed to the border between Montenegro and Bosnia and Hercegovina. I was excited to see scatterings of snow on the roadside, then totally overjoyed when the ground became completely carpeted in the wondrous white stuff. It was just so damn beautiful that I couldn’t help saying so out loud numerous times. Having grown up in a place that doesn’t get snow and having only seen the stuff a handful of times since I first saw it when I was 22, I don’t think I will ever get over the sight of snow-covered ground.

The border crossing was efficient, except I managed to confuse the Montenegrin border officers. They had closed some of the lanes at the border, which meant I had to scoot around a central island to get to the office building. Doing so meant my bike was pointed back towards Montenegro when an officer came out and took my passport. He said something that included the word ‘Montenegro’ and I just said, ‘Yes, Montenegro’. I got the feeling that there would be a problem, so when I wheeled by bike around to ride towards Bosnia and Hercegovina, I did so slowly, to give him a chance to react. The guy shouted when he realised in what direction I was heading. I stopped and returned to him. I said, ‘I go to Bosnia’, pointing the way I intended to ride. The guy got another officer who spoke some English and again I explained, ‘I go to Bosnia’. ‘Why?’ the new guy asked, meaning, ‘why go back the way I came?’ I told him, ‘I come from Montenegro, I go to Bosnia’, then gestured that I was facing the other way because I had to scoot around the island. My passport disappeared again for about thirty seconds before it came back. I could go. A few hundred metres into Bosnia, I stopped to chat to two mountain bike riders making their way up the mountain. They had good bikes and spoke good English and had ridden from Trebinje where they live. The descent from the border was snowless, but still incredibly beautiful. I lost count of the number of times I stopped to take photos.

Have you ever fallen in love with a place instantly? Do you believe in love at first sight? I totally fell in love with Trebinje at first sight. Wow! It blew me away with its beautiful looks and charming atmosphere. It’s nestled in stunning mountains, has quaint cobblestoned streets and ancient buildings and little canals and a nice swimming beach and church sitting atop a hill… I want to live here.

Before I entered the city proper I had stopped at a hostel called The Red Door Hostel. I wanted some local cash and some groceries so I rode into the city centre. It was as I did so that the place overwhelmed me. I spent the rest of the evening until the sun went down riding around seeing as much as I could. At first I thought I really need to stay here tomorrow, but I slowly turned away from this idea because: (1) It will be raining tomorrow so the place won’t look as good as it did in the golden light of the setting sun, which was the way I was seeing it today; (2) I really need to keep moving if I’m going to make it to Paris in time; and (3) It would be nice leaving this place while being so in love with it so that it remains the best memory it could possible be…maybe a day spent here in drizzly rain might ruin this feeling.

After returning to the hostel, I checked in properly, having a good chat (and two shots of rakia) with Nino in the process. Upstairs, I started chatting to the only other guest here, an Italian guy. But instead of getting a conversation I only got talked at – the guy proceeded to tell me in minute detail how he got here from Tajikistan. At first it was a little interesting but then it just got annoying. Unfortunately, he is one of those travellers that travels with his mind and heart closed. The whole time he was complaining about the people he encountered and badmouthing them because of the strictness of their religion. He was telling he had to escape from Uzbekistan because he insulted the prophet and the authorities were out to get him. I have avoided sparking up another conversation as I don’t want to have my ear talked off for another 30 minutes straight.

I wandered down the street for some dinner (a hamburger, chips and half a roasted chicken), which I took back to the hostel. I ate it while researching more about Trebinje and how possible it might be to open a hostel here.

The world is changing

Accommodation $ Hostel
Distance ridden today 75.07km
Average cycling speed 16.1kph
Total distance ridden 27,835km