June 7 – Wednesday

Motorcycle guys were packed up and gone by 6:40 – they were very quiet but I was awake. Oh – black tea was actually black tea! Got an early start riding so I can be back before it gets too hot. I had found yesterday online what was supposed to be a traffic-free cycling path between Mostar and Dubrovnik along an unused rail-line, and it passes thru Blagaj. It looked on the map like roads, and sure enough at least this part of it is.

I rode around Blagaj and followed the map I’d been given at the camp, and saw the ‘Eco Centre’, which was kind of funny. There was supposed to be Griffon Vultures, Shepherd Dogs and Donkeys, all of which are supposed to be endangered. I parked the bike and walked up a very steep dirt/rock road and ended up at what looked like someone’s house – there were grape vines and a lot of chickens (that were very excited to see me – likely thought I was going to feed them) but no vultures. There was a nice mural of what looked like an eagle to me on the outside wall, though.
There was a very impressive looking canyon between the mountains right where the vultures were supposed to be.
Walked back down and over to the donkeys, the baby was especially cute. Never did find the shepherd dogs – maybe they got out and scared the griffon vultures away.

Next stop was the springs where the river Buna is born. It is the only source of the river, and the mountain that births it is very steep and high and the springs seem to be inside a grotto. It was quite impressive – the spring is one of the most powerful in Europe, averaging 43,000 litres per second (if I read the info correctly). A very sweet Japanese (I think) girl took my pic on my camera in front of the grotto.

Rode back across the Bridge of Karadjoz-Bey (built in 1570) and up the road looking for the cycling route I’d read about – found it, although at this point, as I thought, it’s a regular road, not a traffic-free cycling trail. Swung by the store on my way back to camp – didn’t have enough Bosnian marks to pay with and they don’t take visa. Luckily I had an emergency 5 euro note in my camera case and that did the trick – they seem to take marks or euros interchangeably here – 1 euro to 2 marks.

Back at camp I showed Nedzad the route of the Ciro trail cycling path online and he went over it with me. The first part from Mostar is on a main road, then a smaller road to Blagaj. From here it’s an even less busy road for awhile, before you have to cross the M17 right after the Buna river meets the Neretva river. Apparently you only are on the M17 a very short distance then cross a bridge to the other side of the bigger river and go along the old railway (now the cycling trail) next to the new railway. I think I’ll ride 10-15 km along it tomorrow just to see how it is, then go a longer distance the next day, using this campsite as my base.

There’s a big and very important football (soccer) match on Friday evening between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece to decide which country gets to go on to the 2018 World Cup. They’re going to show it on tv at the cafe across the river, and it will likely be a big event with a large, probably noisy crowd – could be fun, especially if B-H wins.

Did some laundry and hung it to dry. Just finished making my lunch when it started raining. Nedzad ran and put a tarp over the un-covered things at the Dutch girl’s tent and moved their laundry-drying racks full of clothes under the covered area that we get to use. I moved my wet clothes to their racks as well.

The whole time I was eating it just poured, and the river started steaming. Nedzad went out for awhile and told me I was in charge if anyone new arrived while he was gone. Rain stopped after about an hour, and bright sunshine appeared.

Went for a nice walk across the bridge and up the hill from camp – some good views. Came back to make dinner, but the Dutch ladies are using the kitchen. Got an email response from Tauli that was very sweet – had sent her and Heike and Chris emails earlier with pic’s from yesterday morning at Camping Split.

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