Vis to Sarajevo

One long day

November 15, 2005

Starting the morning off with a 7 am catamaran trip back to Split began our long day of traveling to Sarajevo today. It only took 1.5 hours to get to Split on the catamaran compared to the 2.5 our trip on the ferry, plus it was cheaper. In Split we walked directly to the bus station and caught the 9:45 am but to Ploce. The 2.5 hour bus ride to Ploce took us south along the coast with views of the Adriatic Sea to the west and mountains to the east. We arrived in Ploce just after noon and with almost 4 hours to kill before our 4 pm train ride to Sarajevo. We first set out to find the train station to buy our tickets. Our guide book showed us the train and the bus stations were right next to each other. I noticed some train tracks behind the bust station as we arrived, so we took off in that direction. We found the tracks soon enough and some old platform signs . There were weeds growing 6 foot tall out of the tracks and the crevasses of the surrounding buildings. The area was the end of the line for those tracks and possibly the end of service a long time ago. I wondered if we wold killing our time by finding the new train in town, but our "Rough Guide" guide book was printed in May 2005. How could it be wrong? The "Rough Guides" haven't misguided us yet, only the "Lonely Planets" have. Tina found a large opening to the building close to the platform and suggested we try to walk in. The doors were open and we found one lady sitting behind a glass window inside this massively empty building. The train schedules were posted on the wall to the right of her and there it was, Ploce to Sarajevo 16:00. We bought our tickets from the woman, who spoke absolutely no English, but was very kind and she go a chuckle out of communicating with us in hand gestures. I asked her, "Peron" (platform), to verify where we needed to catch the train. She gestured towards the door to the weed invested area and laughed in a way that told us this would be the only train leaving today.

That was a painless procedure and left us with 3 hours to burn, so Tina went out to find a super market while I watched our bags at the bus station. Within 30 minutes Tina was back with food for lunch and dinner. While out she found a nice place to sit only 10 minutes away and next to the water. We enjoyed our lunch there and the locals seemed to be intrigued by the two of us making sandwiches right there with our huge backpacks on the ground next to us. I don't think too many tourist come this port town. It began to get cold as the sun went behind the clouds, so we went back to the vastly empty train station. This train station had and eerie ghost town feeling inside and out. As we sat down inside to pass some time by reading, every noise echoed throughout the building. From whispers to the tiniest noise of setting a water bottle down on the table would cause a reverberation five seconds long.

At 4:45 we walked out to the platform to see if our train was there and yes it was, one engine and two wagons. One wagon had the old cabins we were used to and the other had these airplane type seats. We didn't know if the tickets we purchased were the same for each wagon, but we figured we try for the better wagon. All they can do is check us out and tell us to move to the other wagon. After sitting down I began to observe these seats. They looked like they pulled some 1st class seats out of a really old 747 and bolted them to the floor. Only 7 other passengers boarded the same wagon as us and we were off. 10 minutes into the trip they began checking tickets and we thought for sure he was going to kick us out. I handed over the tickets, punched a hole in them, he grunted a hvala (thank you) or something and was on his way. Cool, let's kick back and enjoy the 4 hour trip.

1.5 hours into the trip, we are stopped at a station, I looked over to see where we were at, Mostar. What? Mostar is in Bosnia-Hercgonia, the town we are stopping at on the way back from Sarajevo. Our passports were never checked as we left Croatia or entering Bosnia-Hercigovia. Not enough people on the train to warrant a passport check maybe. Who knows.

As we got off the train in Sarajevo I immediately had a woman in my face asking me if we a had a place to stay. I gave her my typical answer of yes to get rid of her. She asked if we had a reservation and again I said yes, even though we were not sure where we we were going to stay. We had a couple hostels in mind and planned to walk to them. She asked, "where," and I pointed to Tina and said, "She knows." Tina tried pronouncing the hostel name Ljubicica. The woman pronounced the name correctly for us and pointed to a gentleman next here holding a sign with the same name and told us he wold give us a ride. All right, we don't have to walk and try to find a place in the dark. As they checked us in and showed to our dorm room the people in the room had to clear off the beds to make room for us. We looked around the place, it was a pit. I thought party central and why did we commit to 3 days of staying here up front. The place was a dump, but the other guest were receptive and friendly, since there was no place to relax we decided to get a bite to eat and have a few drinks with two guys from Spain, a guy from France and a kid from California. We ended up meeting a retired Marine from Oklahoma at the bar. He spent the last 10 years on and off here in the service and 3 months ago moved here to live for a while as a civilian. He gave us some insight to the history and the conflict between the Croats, Muslims and Serbs. He even offer to show us around the next day. He was quite surprised that we could come to Bosnia as tourist. After a long day we made it to bed by 2:30 am.

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