We arrive in Mostar August the 18th, after a lot of up and down among open landscapes, mowed lawns and hawks, magpies and crows to accompany us from above. We park our bikes and take a couple hours stroll in the old city’s cobblestoned narrow streets. We pass by colorful shop fronts, mosques with their characteristic incense scent and eventually reach the rebuild bridge that got destroyed during the War. Don’t forget! Hundreds of tourists, chattering in different languages, magic.
There is plenty of wrecked buildings left there as constant reminder of the horror of the war.
We go back to our camper and head to Međugorje.
We discover a tiny city with a Church packed with believers and hear the microphones pronuncing the rosary in Serbian and in Italian and so forth for all languages. We visit the city on our bikes. Lots of souvenir shops with religious items, rosary necklaces, sacred pictures and statues of the Virgin Mary.
Come evening time, we find a spot in a camping.
August the 19th we are off to Dubrovnik, passing through mountains and villages.
Capljina, Svitava, Hutovo, Gradac, up and down among orchards, and fields with various crops, pepper, tomato, melon. We coast a swampy lake up to Svitava and find a great deal of garbage bags lying around. Over the course of the past few days I did notice a number of open dumpsters, which seemed to provide employment for a lot of locals, who were busy moving the litter with pitchorks and masks. We continue towards the sea in Neum and shortly after we reach Dubrovnik. Beautiful deep blue water, clear as crystal, with vertical cliffs, gulfs and islands. Once in Dubrovnik we jump on our bikes again to visit the old part of town within its fortified walls. It is a wonderful sight with its marble facades and both narrow and wide streets leading to numerous squares, mosques and monuments.
Just like Sarajevo and Mostar, Dubrovnik withstood a long siege during the war.
About 4 hours later, we make it back to our camper only to discover that we have been charger 20€ as a parking fee. Not too bad!
We proceed towards Sibenik, which Tiziano reaches cycling. We have been here before in 2004 with our friend Enzo, left from Verbania. A trip down memory lane!
Our trip continues to the islands, Pag, Creta, Krk, and back to the mainland in Kraljevic, followed by Rijeka. Right before reaching Rijeka, we meet up with our pals Gigi and his wife Lucia for a meal, since they are spending their holidays in Crikvenica with friends.
August the 20th we mail out the last 200 postcards in Stari Grad, where we have to convince the post office employee that we are really after 200 stamps. The communication is rather difficult since he doesn’t speak any English, but eventually we succeed. Tiziano ride the last 100km up to Senj, where again with Enzo had a wonderful fish feast. The sea front is really beautiful and crowded with cyclist enjoying a ride in the sun with their loaded bags. I can’t help myself and shed a tear of frustration, I wish I could be there too!
The irregular shape of the coast is a whole up and down and in and out of curvs, lagoons and gulfs. So incredibly beautiful!
August the 21st we pass Materija and are back in Italy. We continue to Treviso, a quick ride through tidy and cozy city, just enough time time to visit its majestic square. Once in Bassano del Grappa we take the opportunity to meet up with an old classmate of Tiziano’s, Leopoldo Ceccon. We arrive there under the blackest sky and in the middle of a thunderstorm. We grab a quick pizza and by 10pm we are verso San Vigilio, where we actually get to meet Enzo and sleep a few hours outside his cafè.
The following day, August the 22nd, it’s the last day of our journey and it begins with breakfast with Enzo. We hugh each other goodbye and are ready to return the camper.
It was not the journey I wanted it to be but it was interesting anyway.
We visited the hospital, the school, have seen places and managed to gather a total donation of 6.250€ worth of postcards .
3.876km covered with the camper, a bunch of km on bycicle, met new friends and tried to bring relief to those suffering.
The hospital “Il Giardino delle Rose Blu”, was once known as the Castle of Horrors… luckily today thanks to the tireless work of don Ermanno and his volunteers it breaths new air, new colors, smiles and love for those less fortunate kids. Thousands of people give away for absolute free a great deal of their time there every year, all in the name of solidarity.
On our side, we are already planning our next trip. A personal thank you to our generous contributors of this 2016’s project where we attempted to donate a smile just as we want to keep doing. This is all possible also because of you all!
Milena di mi&ti