Saturday, October 5, 2013


That’s the way I feel after riding my bike all day long!  I arrive at a little village that is labeled “must see” in my Lonely Planet  guide (don’t fret, I have torn pages rather than taking the entire book!) and I am rather disappointed by what I find.  Today, arriving in Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina, I followed signs to the center to see the old bridge “Stari Most” and the old city.  I was appalled by the swarms of tourists, souvenir stalls lining the street, persistent hosts luring you into their restaurant, and the outrageous prices on all the menus! I didn’t realize I had been so off the beaten track during the last week while exploring Bosnia, until I reached this tiny touristy town. 

Okay, I admit, the bridge is beautiful and the town is picturesque hovering both sides of the Neretva river.  But the gobs of tourists leave little to be desired about spending more than half a day.  I haven’t become anti-social as a result of bike touring, but I do feel spoiled or maybe fortunate is the better word.  I feel like I see so much incredible scenery riding my bike all day long that don’t even compare to the ones highlighted in a guide book.  And best of all, traveling on a bike, I have a much more intimate relationship with my environment.  As cars wiz by and get a quick glance, on a bike, I ride much more slowly and therefore have more time to appreciate my surroundings. 

Today I road from Sarajevo to Mostar, on the only road there is between the two places.  I ohhed and awed the entire ride, drooling at the scenery and taking out my camera almost every 500 m to get another picture.  I started the day out passing rolling hills with trees of all different fall colors.  Fruit and veggie stands dotted the sides of the highway until it became more remote and then I entered one canyon after another following the river Neretva all the way down to Mostar.  I do have to be careful of traffic and the occasional unleashed dog, but I don’t have to fight my way through crowds of people.  If I want to take a picture at a tourist sight, I have to wait until it is clear, so it looks like I was the only person there at the time of the photo.  On my bike, I have the sights to myself, all day long, in fact, I have to make a point of trying to figure out how to get me, my bike, or both of us in the photo!

Yet, funny enough, I still feel obligated to visit these “must see” locations.  So many people talk about them as “places you have to go”. Yet when I arrive all I want to do is leave!  I feel overwhelmed, like my privacy has been invaded and all of a sudden I have to do so much more than just pedal.  Yes, I’m an excellent “multi-tasker” but navigating a microscopic lonely planet map, dodging people, children, and stairs, and finding a place to eat and/or sleep becomes an instant headache!

I feel guilty for not spending more than a few hours or an afternoon at a major tourist attractions, but hey, there are roads out there to rides and landscapes to discover and that is what excites me the most about traveling on bike!  I really don’t understand why more people don’t opt to travel like this, I LOVE IT!!! 

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