Lovely Blue Piva River

Trip Start Apr 25, 2012
Trip End May 12, 2012

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Where I stayed
Pansion Lion
What I did
Ostrog Monastery
Tara River Gorge
Piva River

Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina  ,
Saturday, May 5, 2012

We had breakfast at the hotel buffet and today I didn't take so much - no yogurt - but I had a fried egg and took a boiled egg after Tee mentioned having one for lunch.

I had forgotten to get Jane's sand the night before as I had planned so I took a brisk walk to the beach for the sand.  I quickly (more or less) packed up the last few items, went downstairs and asked Louise if I could start out early for the 15 minute walk to the bus station because I was afraid I would be too slow and make us miss the bus.  I had all my bags so that slowed me down.  I was OK to the first turnoff because it came sooner than I expected, but then I dragged on the last two bits.  But I got there, sat down and was resting when in came in Marilynn, Estelle and Doreen.  They had paid one euro apiece and gotten a taxi.  Cheaters!!  That thought had occurred to me at some point - but it was good exercise, I guess

The bus ride was through gorgeous scenery:  mountains and the sea, picturesque towns.  The scenery changed to some fields, then cliffs.  I am not exactly sure of the progression.  We arrived at our selected stop where the hired minibus was supposed to pick us up and take us to the Ostrog Monastery.  Notice the word "supposed."  We got there and waited.  Louise and Zoe then began making calls.  The taxis at the stop offered to take us to the minibus that supposedly was 1 km away.  Why we needed taxis to take us to the minibus was not clear.  There was a language barrier since the minibus driver didn't know English and no one knew his language.  The minibus was down the road at the driver's relative's restaurant where they had expected us to eat.  The driver finally came to pick us up and we headed to the monastery - skipping the lunch at his relative's restaurant.

The upper part of Ostrog Monastery is built into a cliffside.  We drove for quite awhile up the very windy road to the monastery.  There were points where the minibus had to back up to make it around the curves. There appear to be caves nearby the upper part and there is a chapel in this higher part. The candles were almost swimming in melted candle wax and you could smell the wax before entering the chapel.  After checking that out, we went down to the lower part where there was a lovely little church with bright blue frescoes inside and a big chandelier and candles.  There were a few monks on the grounds and women who may have been nuns - they wore headscarves.  There really was not a lot to see at this monastery though.

We left thinking we had saved time because we didn't spend the allotted 1 and 1/2 hours there.  We stopped for lunch where the waitress was nice and friendly, but this was not the driver's relative's place.  Some of our group got the local specialty which was a pork cutlet or something like that with a ham filling.  Jordon got flattened chicken legs that looked quite interesting.

Before the border, we followed the Piva River, deep in its steep
valley.  The river was a turquoise blue color in the early evening and
glistened as the sun hit it.  We went through a bunch of tunnels and
over a dam.  We tried to snatch some photos from the speeding minibus
but bushes and trees - if not tunnels - would get in the way.  Louise
got the driver to stop for a photo op but it was a bust.  We stopped in a
town called Pluzine Montenegro but we couldn't get a good shot from
that far down in the valley compared to some of the views from higher
up.  Oh, well.  It created a picture in my mind - I don't know how long
it will stay, but I would say it is definitely worth remembering.  It
was gorgeous!  I had meant to take the SLR out of my bag but then had it
put way in the back of the minibus so I only had the Fuji and it
doesn't really take good shots in a moving vehicle.  For some reason, my
spare battery for the Coolpix didn't work at all.  Bad luck with
cameras today.

It was some time after that that we crossed the border into Bosnia in a remote mountain area - no town - no real problem either.  Of course, there were lots of curvy roads with the minibus seeming to be right on the edge of the road.  Two vehicles could not pass everywhere and one would have to back down sometimes.  Before we got to the border, we ran across an accident and the driver made a tricky detour where he had to squeeze by at least one truck and drove within inches of cars coming in the other direction.  While he was doing this, we passed by an idyllic scene with an overflowing river, farm buildings with red tile roofs in the distance, some trees, lush green grass - Marilynn said all it needed was some swans - or did I say that?

At the time I had no idea what a special place this was.  I could see that it was special since it was gorgeous, but I didn't know that the Tara Gorge is the longest canyon in Europe and second longest in the world after the Grand Canyon.  I am still a little confused about how much of the Tara Gorge we saw.  The Piva and the Tara (Drina) Rivers converge at the border between Montenegro & Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Piva flows into the Tara I believe.  To me the most amazing aspect was the turquoise color of the water - it was almost unreal and my Fuji photos definitely don't do it justice from the fast-moving vehicle.

We had a pee stop where I  bought some wine after seeing Caroline buy hers.  Soon after that it got dark and I slept.  We made it to Sarajevo around 10 pm.  The driver parked on the street somewhere for us to get out and get our bags.  Cars were having difficulty getting around him.  A police car zipped up and  swerved to a stop.  The officer yelled at our poor driver.  We tried to get ourselves and our bags out of the way asap.  I felt really sorry for the driver because he had to drive all the way back to the monastery - about 5 hours and then drive to Belgrade tomorrow. 

Our room at the Pansion (SIC) Lion is very tight.  You can only get to the closet by standing on my bed and my wall socket barely hangs on by its wires so I am afraid to try charging anything.  We have shared bathrooms on each floor.  Luckily ours has 3 showers and 3 toilets and at least 2 sinks.  There is lots of noise outside from people partying.  Poor Marilynn did not have a good night.

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