Day 6 got off to a smooth start out of Venice, we crossed through Slovenia, which we liked, mainly because you seemed to be able to buy spit-roasted pig everywhere. Unfortunately we kept forgetting to stop, and before we knew it we were at the border with Croatia, which is where things started to get interesting…
We pulled up at the Border Crossing, offered up our passports which were eyed with some suspicion and passed round the various guards with interest. After a lot of talking and pointing they asked us to pull over for “more checks” and kept hold of our passports.
After an anxious twenty minutes or so a guard reappeared, without our passports. In broken English he told us that “something illegal has been detected in your car”, it was explained that “punishment less bad if you just give it to me now you only pay small punishment” and that the alternative was a dog search, which could involve being held at the border for “more than a day” and would also involve “calling your parents and the English consulate” and if something found punishment would be “very big”.
Obviously we weren’t carrying anything illegal that we knew about, when we asked him to clarify what he meant (suddenly worried inadvertently something we had on board was illegal in Croatia) he told us “something illegal has been detected, but we don’t know what. Could be marijuana, or hash, or cannabis.” He told us we should give it to him and pay €70 and left us to “think carefully”.
He eventually came back and again despite our protestations that we had no drugs onboard he continued to insist something was detected, but that he didn’t want to get the dogs involved, we should just give it to him. We all volunteered to take a drug test, and gave him our first aid kit to search though. He took some interest in some of Tom’s tablets, and disappeared again to presumably Google them and find out what they were.
Finally he came back and rather reluctantly threw our passports back at us and told us we could go.
It was a bit of a shame we had to enter such a beautiful country in that way, as we all decided we rather liked Croatia. The drive down the coast offered some stunning views, everything had started getting a lot cheaper (except camping), we found blue Fanta and very cheap beer, and even another Tom hour-long-failing-to-follow-directions-detour didn’t dampen spirits.
We had a long chat with some friendly German explorers at the campsite, rather envious of their modified 4x4 expedition landcrusier, oh well, Bertie’s been holding up so far….
Day 7: Random excursions and being held at the Croatian border had put us behind schedule so we made an early start with a view to catching up. We were also worried that crossing out of the EU for the first time would slow us down if the Croatian border was anything to go by.
Turns out we had nothing to worry about, a very pleasant drive down the Croatian motorway to Split, with more stunning views of the Adriatic coastline. Then over some moderate hills and into Bosnia & Herzegovina without issue (after we’d bought Green Card insurance cover for Bosnia).
Bosnia is turning out to be a bit of a surprise, I think in our heads we were expecting a country piecing itself back together after various internal conflicts, still showing “battle scars”. What we found was well maintained roads, pleasant and friendly locals, modern shops and petrol stations. Sarajevo especially seems a far nicer city than many we passed through in Northern France and Italy, with all the modern amenities you would expect of any Western European city.
We decided as it had been a week away now we would treat ourselves to a hotel for the night, after Tom leading us around for a bit (we should really ban him from driving anywhere with junctions) we found ourselves at a lovely small B&B with a great view overlooking the main city. Air con, hot showers and proper beds… What more could we ask for? Oh cheap beer, that too…