I rolled out of the hostel at 7:30 am, filled with dread about my today’s path. The first 10 km followed a secondary road on the other side of the river before merging back with the highway. I stopped at the bridge to peer wantingly at my GPS for another alternative to the major road. A woman came out of her shop to help me with directions. Mind you, I’m looking at a GPS. I told her where I was going, and she helpfully pointed me on my way.
The next 60 km followed major highway. To my shock and surprise, the day turned out OK. Traffic felt light (much heavier from the other direction), and provided all the room I needed. Except for one 8 km section (4 km up, 4 km down), the entire day was a barely-perceptible climb. The cliffs rose steeply enough I often couldn’t see the top. The road cut under overhanging cliffs and through tunnels, all the while with the Vrbas River at my side. In every village I could see the remnants of the old dam for the mill. As I climbed, power stations replaced that role.
I passed one cycle tourist on the steep section, he on a rapid descent and not interested in talking. I later ran into Vanya, a local Bosnian cycle tourer, who signaled for me to stop and talk. He was on his way back to Banja Luka, having started this morning where I plan to cycle tomorrow!
Arriving in Jajce, I followed the GPS to the hostel. As I paused there on the street to confirm my location, a woman came out of Tourist Information to check on me. She said the adjacent hostel was only open for groups, but she direct me to the hostel on the other side of town. I pointed to the alternate hostel on the GPS (which also offered camping). With the bed only 8 euro, I’m sleeping inside!
Arriving before 2:00 pm, I explored the local fortress, underground chapel, and waterfall. With some time remaining, I set off to seek out and “archaological site” on the GPS. I never fount it, but instead found the Pliva waterfalls, a combination of small dams and natural formations with bridges and trails all around them – lovely. Afterwards I trekked back up and around the mountain to see if I could find the archeological site from the other side, to no avail. I hiked almost 10 km, but at least I wasn’t pushing a bicycle!
Tomorrow I outrun the Vrbas, which will prompt climbing over the highest elevations to begin my descent on the other side following the Neretva.