Monday, 16 July 2012

The Road Less Travelled

Over the years I have often blogged in praised of travelling with a GPS (Satellite Navigation). Unfortunately in Eastern Europe we have found our GPS to be sadly lacking. So warned, we decided to check with Google Earth and Via Michelin on the Internet before believing our GPS when in decided that we could reach the Bosnian border by continuing along the road from accommodation in the small village of Rastovaca, near Plitvicka Lakes (Plitvitza Lakes) in Croatia.

We had enjoyed a full day at the lakes the day before. There are insufficient superlatives to describe the absolute beauty of the lakes and waterfalls descending between them. I have previously blogged about Krka National Park in Croatia and the beautiful cascading falls there, but Plitvicka surpasses Krka ten fold.

And so having ended our visit to Plitvicka we departed the guesthouse and embarked along the small bitumen road passing the last house on the street. The residents standing in their front yards gawked at us as we drove by. We were blissfully ignorant to what awaited us ahead.

Less than a kilometre down the road the bitumen ended. We were not overly concerned, we had driven on dirt roads before. Over the course of the next kilometre the road diminished to little more than an overgrown goat track and then it got really narrow. In places the grass, flowers and weeds growing between the tyre tracks were waist high. At times Hubby had to get out of the car to break branches from the trees that so that we could pass. I didn't remind him that bears roamed these woods, but I stayed safely within the confines of our car. There was an ominous scratching sound as the trees on each side of the track scraped both sides of the car as we proceeded deeper into the untamed forest. I doubt whether any vehicle had passed this way since the fall of the Iron Curtain.

We had selected the "no unsealed roads" setting on the GPS, perhaps there needs to be a "no machete needed" setting too. Had there have been sufficient room to turn around, I think Hubby would have done so in an instant.
Because of the signs warning us about land mines all around, Hubby was reluctant to leave the less than beaten track, so when nature called I stoically crossed my legs rather than risk my life by "going bush" amid unexploded land mines.

At one stage we even came across a gate; albeit an open one, but it planted a seed of doubt in our minds that there may be others, and what if, at the end of the road, one is locked; what then. I'm sure Hubby would have sooner abandoned the car than drive all the way back again.

I was not very popular as Hubby had asked me if we should inquire about this road before we departed the guesthouse. Being a stubborn Capricorn I waved this suggestion off with the flick of my wrist, it was, after all, only 7 kilometres. They were destined, however, to be the longest 7 kilometres we had ever travelled, rarely getting out of first gear for the majority of the way. It really was the road less travelled.

Eventually, without loss of life or limb, we hit civilisation and a bitumen road again and were soon at the border between Croatia and Bosnia/Herzegovina. Our passports were scrutinised, "Ooo! Ostrahlia...long way!" and we were ushered into yet another country.

We proceeded towards the city of Banja Luka on a wing and a prayer because, while our GPS recognised the overgrown dirt track as a road, it did not recognise 75% of the roads in Bosnia and as far as it was concerned the 120 km long, two lane, bitumen highway did not exist. Go figure!

P.S. my hands were shaking so violently that the photos of this road were too blurry to post, sorry.

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