Day 09, Tour 08, Jablanica to Neum, BIH

The old bridge - stari most - for which Mostar is named

I rode to Mostar today. It was a relatively easy and truly spectacular ride. Todays ride was though a river gorge that reminded me of the Grand canyon because it was so impressive it was hard to believe it was real. I can't say enough good thing about that part of the ride, so here are some images:

The road starts out below the railroad, on the right hand side, running almost at the bottom of the gorge. A few km later, it crosses to the left had side before the railroad comes down to run near the river on the right hand side. The road and railroad stay on opposite sides after that and mostly stay near the river. Both the road and the railroad go through a lot of tunnels and over a few bridges. Some of the railroad tunnels seem to be miles long, while there is only one long - it wasn't marked but I'd guess half a mile - road tunnel. It is lighted and it is quite curved. That tunnel starts just before the second hydro-electric dam. At each dam, the river level drops more than 100 feet. There are many fish farms on the river. Riding towards one, I saw a big sign that said Laks. Hmm, Laks must equal lachs and that equals salmon ;-}. And that is what the fish farms on this section of the Nevetva river are raising.

The old part of Mostar
That huge - those building around it are big apartment building - church tower seems to be attempting to dominate the much smaller mosque tower in the lower section of the image
The smaller tower is part of the old mosque on the Moslem side of stari most

I rode into Mostar expecting to find a place to stay and then spend the day exploring the town. When I rode in, I headed toward the old town and the old bridge. Mostar is a big town and I was glad it was Sunday morning since the lack of traffic made my ride easier. When I got to the old town, I walked my bike on the narrow cobblestone streets to the bridge. I stopped for a while to think about what the bridge meant and why it was destroyed in the war, and then walked - pushed and pulled really, it wasn't easy - my bike over the bridge into the other side of old town. Then I had to carry my bike up several set of steps to get back to a road. Mostar's old town reminded me of Dubrovnik, it felt fake. Sarajevo's old town was much more interesting. I decided that there was no reason for me to stay in Mostar and that I should ride on.

I rode out of Mostar the same way I came in, and then climbed a hill on the highway heading south. There was store that sold bananas, bread, and yogurt - my staple foods - at the top of the hill, so I bought food for lunch and to take with me for a snack. I ate and then I studied my map to decide which way I should ride on. then I took a picture of the old town area from the hill.

I had three options; two routes I could ride going south through the mountains in Bosnia towards Podgorica, or a route going out of Bosnia and into Croatia in order to go south along the coast. There was a problem with both of the routes that went south in Bosnia. My map showed passes on both routes. Nothing I have climbed yet in Bosnia is marked as a pass on my map and some of those climbs were thousands of feet vertical. I decided I didn't want to discover how much climbing it would take to get over a Bosnia pass, so I rode on down the river towards Croatia.

The river gorge was wider after Mostar, but, in some parts, steeper than before Mostar

It continued to be an interesting, and usually easy ride down the river gorge. The road stayed close to river level, so they wasn't much climbing, and there was less traffic than above Mostar. The wind did pick up in the middle of the day and that slowed things down a bit. As I rode, I saw big thunderstorms developing to the south - I would have ridden right into them on the other routes - and, as I neared Croatia, they started developing to the north as well. Later, in Croatia, I 'fled' down the coast as storms developed behind me. The clouds expanded south faster than I could ride, especially on a coast with a lot of 7% grade hills, and I spent the last hour of my ride riding in light rain. I finally stopped to put on my rear rain covers and my wind vest as the rain got heavier.

My bike with its rear rain covers at the place where I stopped for the night

You might have noticed that I stopped for the night in Bosnia after I left Bosnia for Croatia. Bosnia actually extends to one small piece of the Adriatic coast, so, if you ride down the coast from Split to Dubrovnik, you must, briefly go into Bosnia. Since I'd rather stay in Bosnia than Croatia, my goal for today was to get back to Bosnia before I stopped. Neum is a resort town a few km south of the border on the coast.

The view from my window
Those are islands off the coast

I hadn't had a real meal today, so I wanted to stop at a restaurant and I needed an inexpensive - Neum is full of four and five star resorts - room. I'm in a minimalist room which is tiny with one window, but that window has a nice view. It is a better deal, for 20 E than my room last night, or at least it will be if the dog shuts up. There was a big socker game tonight and all the yelling and horn blowing seems to have freaked the poor dog out. I don't know if its owner is at the restaurant, but if the dog doesn't calm down soon, I'm going to have to go down to see what can be done about it.

Neum is just over half way between Mostar and Dubrovnik - 73 km from Dubrovnik and 70 km from Dubrovnik. I don't want to go to Dubrovnik again, but I can ride just past it - after the large hill on the other side ;-{ - and head back into Bosnia to Trebinje and then, hopefully, into Montenegro toward Niksic, or I can stay in Bosnia and ride a, possibly hillier, but more peaceful route to Trebinje

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