SUSTAINABLE ROAD TRIP IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac

Winter vacation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is multifaceted, just like its nature. While icy temperatures prevail in Blidinje Nature Park, we wear T-shirts in the historic town of Stolac, 120 kilometers away. A road trip through different climatic zones.

My Stages

SUSTAINABLE ROAD TRIP IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac

Winter vacation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is multifaceted, just like its nature. While icy temperatures prevail in Blidinje Nature Park, we wear T-shirts in the historic town of Stolac, 120 kilometers away. A road trip through different climatic zones.

My Stages

A journey into Bosnia's poetic past

Gorcin Dizdar and his girlfriend Emina are already waiting for me in Sarajevo. Today we are going to the southwest of the country to Herzegovina, the sunny part of the Mediterranean climate zone. Gorcin is from this part of the country and is the grandson of the famous poet Mak Dizdar, whose works have been published in several languages around the world. His works tell of the bygone times of the medieval mystical Bosnian kingdom with its mysterious inscriptions on the tombstones, called stecci, and which are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites. He and his family are preserving the precious heritage of the land, which they now want to show me.

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 1
© Emina Sarvan
From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 2
© Gorcin Dizdar

We are going to the medieval village of Stolac. When we leave Sarajevo it is about one degree Celsius. It is bitterly cold. “Shall we drive over the Visocica mountain? It’s a wonderful route and the car is fully loaded, after all,” Gorcin suggests. Our cameraman Faruk is skeptical: “I’ve heard that the road isn’t cleared and it wouldn’t be possible to get through even with an off-roader.” One phone call later, we have to postpone this great idea until early summer. It can still snow in the mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the spring.

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 3
© Faruk Osmanovic

We drive in the direction of Mostar. The sun is shining and following us. “If we can’t go over the mountain, we’ll go to Lake Blidinje. It’s beautiful even at this time of year!” It goes uphill and as soon as it goes up, the cloudier it gets. “Behind this hill, enjoy the view!” Emina, Gorcin and Faruk are as happy as I am, even though they go here frequently.

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 4
© Faruk Osmanovic

Diversity in nature

We cross a wooden gate to Blidinje Nature Park, which welcomes its guests. We are surrounded by barren mountains with snow covered peaks. I could be somewhere in Scandinavia or even Iceland. At the top, a wide valley opens up to me, dominated by a huge frozen natural lake. These colors! The cool ice blue paired with the snow white and the ocher colors of the earth. Endlessly the ice tongue seems to go into the horizon.

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 5
© Faruk Osmanovic
From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 6
© Faruk Osmanovic

We drive to the shore, park and walk along the lake. It is incredibly cold, but the colors of nature and the silence radiate a sense of warmth. I look out over the lake, which rests in itself like a sleeping dragon. The ice has a pattern as if it was frozen while the water was making small waves. From above, it looks like a painting. This area is known for its capricious weather changes.

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 7
© Mirella Sidro

Even in June it can get cold and snowy in the mountains. We have to move on. The sun sets very quickly in winter. Gorcin and Emina want to show me the famous medieval necropolis of Dugo Polje. I am totally fascinated by these old tombstones, which cannot be found anywhere else in the world except in the Balkans, more precisely in Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro next to Bosnia-Herzegovina. No one knows exactly what the representations mean. The inscriptions mention names and wisdoms. However, there are quite few of them. So the period of that time is also mystical and mysterious for us like the gravestones themselves. Our path takes us along a long gravel road of a plain. No civilization far and wide.

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 8
© Mirella Sidro

The abandoned tombstones

At some point, the necropolis appears on the horizon. Majestic and sublime, the tombstones stand in the nowhere as if they were not of this world. The sky is overcast and a cold breeze is blowing. I walk between the tombstones. Some have dance motifs and hunting scenes depicted on them. And then there is a gravestone that I have never seen before: “This motif is unique. It shows a dragon surrounded by a snake,” Gorcin explains to me.

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 9
© Mirella Sidro

He did his doctorate on tombstones in Canada. Together with a team, he is now making inventories across the country to save them from decay. They also sometimes fall victim to “recycling.” “They are simply dismantled to be built into new foundations,” Gorcin explains to me. Unfortunately, there are also cases where they are simply removed for land reclamation or left to their fate of decay. But that is now changing with his work. I photograph and photograph. Every stone is fascinating, even those that have no representations or inscriptions. I wonder who might have been lying underneath for five or more centuries? “About this, too, we know quite little, because there are no DNA analyses …”

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 10
© Mirella Sidro

Halting hunger with help of supper

It is getting colder and we are hungry. A reserved table is waiting for us in the well-known restaurant Hajducke Vrleti, located in the middle of Blidinje Nature Park. I try to get something vegetarian. The waiter looks at me pityingly. Even in Herzegovina, most people in the country seem to wonder how to survive without meat. I order fried eggs with salty Ausg’zogen and cheese. With a salad.

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 11
© Mirella Sidro

The portions are, as expected, huge! We divide everything among ourselves and try something at each. The fried potatoes and pasta also taste wonderful! Whether we still want to have something for dessert? I just can’t fit anything in.

With filled bellies, we now head for Stolac, our destination for today. We arrive when it is already dark. We check in at the hostel. The owner also lets our Audi e-tron park into the in-house garage and I am allowed to charge it at the household socket. She is fascinated by modern mobility and what is possible. And I’m glad that I can save myself the trip to the hotel wallbox in nearby Mostar.

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 12
© Mirella Sidro

One night in Stolac

We are tired, but I am not averse to a night walk through the medieval village and the birthplace of the poet Mak Dizdar, Gorcin’s grandfather. And one thing is wonderful: it’s warm outside! “Tomorrow it will be 25 degrees Celsius,” Emina rejoices as we pass beautiful historic Ottoman-style stone houses under the starry sky, followed by the murmur of the Bregava River, which flows through the village here.

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 13
© Mirella Sidro

Emina takes me to a gigantic old Ottoman house. She opens the old wooden gate with a huge key. We enter into a typical front courtyard overlooking verandas built of dark beams. The floor is made of natural stones. “This architectural historical masterpiece is currently being converted into a hostel. The guest will reside here as they did in the Ottoman times.”

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 14
© Mirella Sidro

We linger a little longer in the beautiful forecourt, gazing at the twinkling stars that seem close enough to touch. Soon we leave the magnificent residence, hoping to be able to spend the night here ourselves soon.

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 15
© Mirella Sidro

The next morning we meet at Café Han for breakfast. Of course, this also turns out hearty again: Pecenice, salty Bavarian doughnuts, with creamy sour cream, dried meat and olives from the area. This is accompanied by fresh orange juice and tea.

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 16
© Mirella Sidro

A city cut out of a painting

It is so warm that we can run around in T-shirts. “Today we are going to Blagaj, the holy place. We will stay with a friend of ours who runs a hostel. There will be freshly grilled trout. We’ll pick up the fish right away.” I want to see Stolac by day. The turquoise blue water shimmers in the sunlight. The current is very strong and ends in quite a few waterfalls by the small stone mills – and in the middle of town. “In winter, the waterfalls are the strongest,” Emina tells me.

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 17
© Mirella Sidro
From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 18
© Mirella Sidro

We have to get going. It is already a highlight to drive through the town. Even the main road is narrow and leads through picturesque Stolac with all its historic stone houses, houses of worship and Ottoman-style bridges. The flora and fauna remind us that the weather here is Mediterranean.

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 19
© Mirella Sidro
From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 20
© Mirella Sidro

We park the car at the nearby campground, where I can plug it into a power outlet. The place is divine! Emina and I get out some cookies and sit down on the bank of the river Bregava, which flows past us. The guys pick up the fresh fish. “Let’s go! The grill is waiting!”

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 21
© Mirella Sidro
From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 22
© Mirella Sidro

We drive out of the city, along the river. At one point we make a short stop. Emina wants to show me a natural washing machine. The historical washing system is still used today, especially for carpets and traditional cilims. The current of the water is so strong at this place that the carpet is permanently spun in the wooden tub. Next to it, it is then hung in the sun to dry. It is so peaceful here despite the roaring water. But it is just the sounds of nature and these have a calming effect.

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 23
© Mirella Sidro
From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 24
© Mirella Sidro

"15,000 Years of Living History."

Before finally continuing to the village of Blagaj, we make a short stop at the fortress. I would like to see Stolac from above, the place around which 15,000 years of lived history exists!

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 25
© Mirella Sidro

From the thick stone walls you can wonderfully see how Stolac is embedded in the Bregava valley, surrounded by barren and karst nature.

It is time. Gorcin and Emina’s friends are waiting for us in Blagaj, 30 kilometers away. Another mystical place with wonderful and inspiring stories and legends.

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 26
© Mirella Sidro

My mobile companion

Maximum speed in km/h: 200
Continuous electrical power in kW: 100
Peak electrical power in kW (in boost): 265 (300)
Electric torque in Nm (in boost): 561 (664)
Battery type / battery energy content: lithium-ion / gross 95kWh / net 86.5 kWh usable

Electric range based on electricity consumption in combined WLTP driving cycle in km*: 373 – 452

Electricity consumption combined in kWh/100 km: 24.0 – 21.6 (NEDC); 25.9 – 21.6 (WLTP)
CO2 emission combined in g/km: 0

My average electricity consumption at about 3100 kilometers in winter: 27 kWh/100 km
Electric acceleration 0-100 km/h in s (in boost): 6.6 (5.7)

Base price: from 81.500 €

Price of my test vehicle Audi e-tron Sportback 55 quattro S line: approx. 113,000 €.

From the Ice Lake to the Sunny Village of Stolac 27
© Mirella Sidro

It' s also possible to drive long distances with an e-car! Our mobile companion for the sustainable long road trip is a purely electric vehicle! The difference to the combustion engine: organize everything in advance and schedule extra time!