Hidden Bosnia - Travnik and Jajce
We left Sarajevo heading north to spend a few additional nights in Bosnia & Herzegovina. There is a lot to see in this country, we barely scratched the surface in our time there, but we did get to see a few places that aren't on everyone's list when they are thinking about visiting this country.
First up, we drive up into the mountains from Sarajevo and towards the old ski jump from the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics. First stop is at the old Hotel Igman, once a hotel for the elite heading to the 1984 Olympics, now an empty shell that, when walking into the old lobby, is now used for paintball fights.
We arrived there at the wrong time, the sun was in our eyes as we tried to get photos of the abandoned building. We also had a timeline that we were trying to hold ourselves to - no time to enter and wander through the empty shell of the hotel. That's sad, and makes us want to return some day to wander through the empty hallways.
But next up, the site of the Olympic ski jumps - who doesn't love the ski jump? We were excited because we had seen some photos of people standing on the old abandoned medals platform at the base of the ski jump.
Unfortunately when we arrived to this very much abandoned ski jump, the lower landing area had turned into children's play area. The landing zone full of games, the old parking lot full of at least 9 tour buses, and the shrieks of kids laughing filling the air. The old podium was being used as a staging point for handing out lunches. But we pulled in at the midway point of the hill are were able to quickly get in and grab a few photos of the old jump site.
From there we were done with the past, or at least done with the more recent past. Done with the remnants of the recent wars and the scars that the relics of the 1984 Olympics have left on the country. We moved then on to Travnik, a city that managed to avoid the destruction of the rest of the country. It was also a city that was a fortified stronghold of the Ottoman empire, and you can see it still as a strong Muslim influence. We stopped at our hotel, walked through the old castle and then down through the old town where almost every shop seemed to be closed - we still managed to find a small restaurant willing to feed us a generous helping of meat.
A quick one night stop in Travnik and we moved on - Travnik is wonderful to see for an old town, but it'd be hard to recommend anything more then a single night's stay there, amazing to see but a small contained city. Then we headed up to Jajce since we had heard it had a great waterfall right in the center of the city.
Yes, but even better, they have the remains of old mills from the Austo-Hungarian Empire. We got here early in the morning and toured through the area almost alone. Again, the sun was in our eyes, so the photos aren't perfect but they are better then the late afternoon ones that might have perfect lighting but crowds of other tourists around.
The falls where these mills where built are at the end of a nice large lake, and the mills where build in such a way to share the water, once directed to your mill the water was directed down to a second mill - the mills where shared amongst the farmers. It is a wonderful place to take a walk around and just enjoy the calm scenery.
And then after that relaxing morning - if you arrive early enough you can miss the parking ticket collector and a maybe 5 euro parking fee (we don't know, we drove out as he was walking down to where we were parked).
Then onto Jajce, we had a hotel right in the center of the city so that walk up to old castle.
A quick tour of the old castle and then it's down to the center of the city and the Pliva waterfall. For the size of the city it's amazing that there are 22 meter high falls (72 foot) pretty much right in the center of the city. You cross the river leading to the falls driving into the old walled city, and from our central hotel is was a 5 minute walk to the falls.
After two great days of touring two amazing cities, it was time for us to head our - our next stop was in Split back in Croatia. On our way out of town we drove past an old rusting steam train outside of Milniste. Of course we stopped to get better photos, and then once reconnected with the internet world we tried to look up why an entire train - engine and a few carriages - would just be left and rusting out in the middle of the country.
The internet wasn't our friend that afternoon, as little to no information exists about the train. The best we found was from another blogging traveler who believes that it was a train that Tito used after WW2 in the founding of Yugoslavia and that was then abandoned. It all left us with more questions then we had when we drove by the train initially. But, it is amazing to see, and to walk around and over- if you happen to be taking the M15 through Milniste it is something that you should plan to spend 30+ minutes admiring and exploring.