Guest post: An Unexpected Hitchhike in Bosnia – by Drew Goldberg (thehungrypartier)
In this week’s guest post… we join Drew Goldberg on an unexpected hitch-hike in Bosnia as a hungover day trip turns into a nightmare 300 km detour over the case of a missing passport… Bosnia is probably one of the most challenging Balkan countries in terms of hitchhiking and this post perfectly shows what it can be like. We encourage you to read it and watch a short video of Drew’s experience.
An Unexpected Hitchhike in Bosnia
When people say, “tell me a travel story,” this is always the first story that comes to mind. It’s pretty bizarre.
It was spring break when I was studying abroad in Prague, Czech Rep. April of 2012 to be exact. Two of my friends and I decided to go a crazy trip, hitting up 5 Eastern European countries in 9 days (Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Croatia, and Germany).
The first part of the trip went great. We has some awesome nights in Munich and Belgrade and saw a lot of cool things. At about the half-way point of our journey, we were in Dubrovnik, Croatia. All of us were out at the bars one night having a blast. In the back of our mind, we knew that we had to wake up at the crack of dawn because we were planning to meet some more friends at a condo in Split, Croatia (a few hours up the Adriatic Coast). But that didn’t stop us from partying hard!
Before we went out to the bars that night, I looked at a map and realized that we were so close to Bosnia. In fact, it was just a slight detour to get there on the way to Split. Instead of taking the coastal route, detour would take us a bit inland and through a city called Mostar in South-Western Bosnia. I googled Mostar and found out that it is home to one of the most famous medieval bridges in the world (shown in picture), so why not check it out and cross another country off the list? Only one friend decide to join me, and we told the rest of the crew that we’d meet them at the condo in Split.
My buddy and I got about 1 hour of rest before we had to wake up to take the 5 a.m. bus. We nearly missed it because we were hungover, but we managed to chase it down and get a seat. We arrived in Mostar after a few hours and it was pouring rain outside. We got off the bus, explored around the city for a few hours without umbrellas, grabbed a few beers, and then decide to go back to Split to meet our friends. We jumped on the next bus to Croatia.
Ok, that was all the boring parts of the story…
At the border of Croatia and Bosnia, there was a passport check. The police woman raided the bus and took everyone’s passport. I handed her my passport and look over at my friend and saw him panicking and sweating bullets.
He had lost his passport.
It was nowhere to be found. The police officer told us to step outside the bus, and we were denied entry into Croatia until he found it or got a new one.
How was this possible? He had it on the previous bus coming into Bosnia, an somehow lost it in the last 3 hours while we were in Mostar. The bus proceeded through the border without us. It was raining cats and dogs outside. It was Easter Sunday.
After talking to the Bosnian Police officers using hand signals and drawings (because they spoke very poor English), we had them call the previous bus company to search for his passport.
Sure enough, they found it on the last bus!!! What a relief!
That original bus continued to Sarajevo (the capital of Bosnia), and that city was 4 hours by car from the border where we were standing.
So, we were stuck at the border, in the pouring rain, without cellphones or any form of communication, talking to the Bosnian police with broken English, with our big-ass travel backpacks on our backs and denied entry into Croatia until we got his passport back.
We pondered our options and realized that we had no other choice but to hitchhike to Sarajevo.
Yep, we stood on the road with our thumbs up and smiles on.
About an hour passed by…
Finally, this old man with grey hair and bulky glasses picked us up. He was driving a Ford (which made me feel more comfortable) and he was heading to Sarajevo.
“I remember being in your shoes, traveling around with a backpack and having the time of my life” He said.
He was a business man and was very very friendly. We got lucky! He drove us all the way through some amazing terrain and we landed in Sarajevo. He basically lectured us on the Bosnian government and the Bosnian way of life.
We go to the bus terminal and they said they haven’t seen his passport… So, we made them call the border police back and they said that the bus driver has it at his house, not the bus terminal. Frustrated but optimistic, we took a cab to the bus drivers house and GOT IT!
We got dinner in Sarajevo, drank another beer, and then took an 8 hour bus back to Split. It was such a relief to see out friends!
All in all, my hitchhiking experience was a little frightening to begin with, but turned out being awesome in the end.
Check out this video that I took in the back seat of the car. Listen closely to the guy lecturing us about Bosnian people and their culture.
written by: Drew Goldberg
Drew says: “My name is Drew Goldberg. I’m a recent college grad and I’ve been to 47 Countries. I am currently teaching English in South Korea and having the best time of my life. When I travel, I force myself to step out of my comfort zone and create memorable experiences. My blog documents my travels, and gives advice on the food and nightlife around the world!”
Read his blog at: thehungrypartier.com