Bosnia was one of those places that I entered with no expectations. I had not heard many stories from others who had traveled there, and didn’t seem to meet many travelers that would have been able to give me the lowdown had I met them.
This is one of the best parts of rolling solo. I love to feel the excitement of the unknown.
The weather was changing and the autumn days were getting shorter. Eastern Europe was beginning the ancient process of getting everything ready for winter. I had met a women in Slovenia that was looking for some help with her ranch and I had offered to help her out with her horses, so I was kicking back in Bled waiting to see if I would be needed. The days were sunny and warm still, so I didn’t mind waiting a couple days until she had sorted out her affairs back on the ranch.
It was another bright morning when I heard a knock on my door. I opened the door and standing there was a young guy perhaps around my age. He told me in good English that everything on the ranch was fine and that he could offer me a ride north to town not too far from the Croatian border. I accepted and quickly packed my things and came out to his car where he was smoking a cigarette in the morning sun.
I took a sleeper train into Sarajevo. The minute I stepped onto my car, I knew the train would be empty. The dark platform had only a few people walking about or standing and smoking. The concierge showed me to my room and left to get me some blankets and a pillow. I could smell cigar smoke in the air. This was good.
Once the train was moving and it was apparent that I was the only one in this car, I grabbed my flask of rakija and a couple of cigars and went to find the concierge. He was in his little room sitting at a table listening to the radio and smoking a small cigar. On the table was the typical plastic cup seen all over the Balkans and used for everything from coffee to hard liquor.
I offered him a cigar and he accepted and motioned for me to sit on his bed. We lit up the cigars and I pulled out the flask and made the offer of filling his cup. He nodded and threw the remains of what was left in his cup out the window.
The rakija burned as it went down but it worked the magic of putting two strangers at ease.