Podgaric to Banja Luka

Thursday, July 14, 2022 - 21:45

We started the day waking up in our cabin in the forest in Croatia, which unfortunately hadn't given us a great night's sleep last night. Lucy didn't sleep very well and the place had what I can best describe as an 'itchy' feel to it. Looking forward to a real hotel tonight in Bosnia! After a quick breakfast, we packed up and were on our way South East toward the Croatia/Bosnia border. We decided to take a different route back to the motorway, which took us through some more rural parts of Croatia which most tourists don't get to see. The thing that stood out to us the most on this part of the drive was how so many of the houses were not plastered on the outside; probably a cost cutting exercise, but still strange to see.

After about 90 minutes we got to the border crossing at Gradiska, where we suddenly encountered a very long line of lorries on the single carriageway road. We sat there for a little bit thinking this could take a while, before some other regular (and local) cars turned up and knew what to do - drive past the lorries in the other lane and hope there is no oncoming traffic. We followed behind and made it past all the lorries and to a much shorter queue for cars. This queue was to get out of Croatia, which took all of 5 minutes (Croatia aren't stamping UK passports in and out like Schengen countries have started doing!), before we drove onto the bridge over the river Sava, past another line of lorries, and then to the back of the line for the Bosnian border. At this point we saw a few cars overtake all the rest, and I duly followed, only to end up in quite a sticky situation having to push back in the line, and then getting told off by a border official for good measure - oops. The queue for Bosnian passport control only took about another 5 minutes, and we did get entry stamps this time. After getting our passports back we got stopped by another official who asked if we have anything to declare; we said "no" and were on our way into Bosnia.

Total border crossing time in the middle of a working day: <30 minutes.
Paperwork checks: passports and v5c car ownership document
Dog checks: none

We had about 45 more minutes to drive to get to Banja Luka, and despite what I had heard about the terrible roads in Bosnia, we were taken on a shiny, brand new stretch of motorway almost the whole way. It was a toll road, which only cost about £2, but that was clearly enough to put off most people since it was more or less empty other than a few cars with foreign licence plates. Looking around though, we had clearly entered a much poorer country, with everything feeling a lot more what I would call 'second world'.

We spent the rest of the day in Banja Luka. I had never heard of it before, but turns out it is the 2nd city of the country, and the capital of the Srpska (Serb) Republic half of the country, Sarajevo being the capital of the other half. It was 33 degrees in the middle of the afternoon, but we managed to find quite a bit of shade and have a walk down the very pleasant main street, past an impressive church, and onwards to the Ferhadija mosque, which was reconstructed only recently. I won't make this blog a history lesson, but I recommend reading about the city's recent history and the mosque - we found it very interesting! At night the city really came alive, feeling more like a holiday resort than a capital city. The streets were full of all sorts of people, from families to young people going out, music of all sorts blaring from bars and restaurants, and our hotel has a live singer and band going on late into the night - seems they are in full on summer holiday mode here. We took it all in, and went for a nice walk along the river and around the medieval Kastle Fortress, which looked quite impressive, though I struggled to find any good history about it online.

Tomorrow we leave mid-morning for Sarajevo, which I understand will not be on a shiny new motorway...

Dog Notes: 

The border crossing from Croatia to Bosnia at Gradiska was entirely uneventful in the end. In theory they needed to see Summer's passport, health check stamp, rabies and other vaccinations. In practice, they only cared about our human passports, and when we said "and we have a dog" the border guard said "oooh a dog" and handed us our passports back. Better safe than sorry with Summer's paperwork though, and let's hope the other borders are this relaxed.

Electric Vehicle EV Notes: 

We got excited this morning when the BMW Charging app told us there was a free high-speed charging point near the Bosnian border. However, when we got there the BMW Charging app wouldn't work and it definitely wasn't free for people just turning up.
- Service station near Novska (Croatia)
- Our hotel in Banja Luka has a free 3.5KW charger. Nice for a top up, though it took 9 hours to do 25% of the battery!

Miles Driven: 
Hotel Bosna


Awesome pics! Summer's tongue is superb!

You're becoming very intrepid travellers. Next time a movie. I have a camera mount for a car somewhere with you can have

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