My clothesline, strung up awkwardly in the windowless watermill hut, has done nothing to help dry the clothes. My sleeping bag and mat are still damp from the downpour two days ago and I feel generally sticky and uncomfortable. The mushroom pasta last night, white and gluey, hasn’t helped my general feeling of glumpiness either. Today, though, should be a good combination of fairly easy and very scenic – just 12 km to the tiny village of Tušila, going via a fantastic ridge walk on Visočica mountain, connecting the peaks of Drvsta and Vito. It’s dangerous to do in bad weather, and rain is forecast for the afternoon, so we determine to leave early and get off the ridge before anything can start. The forecast may say ‘heavy showers’ but the weather round here has proved itself to be anything but predictable.
We head off down the hill and have the immediate choice whether or not to visit Umoljani, a very small, old village up the road which has become another attraction on this part of the track, similar to the way Lukomir has. It boasts some of the oldest buildings in Bosnia and a good few restaurants. Wet and soggy, looking forward to the ridge walk and keen to avoid more rain, however, we decide to skip it. Half an hour later though, and we’re regretting our decision. It feels a real shame to have missed it – but there we go. Our Via Dinarica won’t be perfect, but it’ll certainly be ours.
We walk along roads towards Bobovica, the even smaller town at the base of Drvsta. The GPS tracks tell us to leave the road at a bridge and cut across the steep, meadowed valley instead, so on we go. There’s not much of a track and it gets very steep towards the end. I’m not sure if we just missed some marker dots and went an old route or not… but I’m sure there’s a better way up than ours. We reach Bobovica very sweaty, sit down on the bench near the spring and have a breather. This wasn’t a great route. At least it’s sunny so far.
We cut through some gates and fields to approach Visočica and the ridge, with directional advice from some local men fixing a car. It’s a steep climb up, and takes a while. A few clouds appear and I put on my rain gear on instantly, determined not to let all my drying efforts go to waste. But it’s needless – the weather stays warm and beautifully dry.
We have lunch at Drvsta and just bask in it. I take off my steaming shoes and let them dry out. I use my raincoat as a sun-protector-cross-incubation-blanket and lie down drowsily beneath it, resting my back on the summit cairn. It’s a long time before we ease ourselves back to standing and follow the ridge along to Vito. It’s a breath-taking walk.
From Vito, we simply head off the ridge and straight down towards Tušila, a tiny village boasting one mountain kuća, Vrela, and one restaurant, Restoran Visočica. It’s only about 5 km away, so we take our time, weaving between shale and sheep until we leave the mountain meadows and enter the beech tree forest coating the foothills.
By the time we reach Tušila, it looks like the small clouds from before have gained some muscle and it starts to rain. We look longingly at the restaurant, with it’s multitude of undercover wooden tables and fresh, traditional Bosnian food.
Unfortunately however, we’re in a bit of a money pickle. Since entering Bosnia, we’ve only found one place on the Via Dinarica with ATMs (or bankomats, as they’re called here) – that was back in Jablanica. We’re quickly running out of cash, and won’t be able to withdraw until Kalinovik, in two days time. Simovića kuće, the B&B recommended to us by the guys from Maryland a few days back, is between us and that ATM. We put aside our last pennies for that and try to work out whether we’re allowed to go into the restaurant and possibly stay in a room. I really would like to stay dry tonight if possible – or stay ‘drying’ rather, as all my things, of course, are still pretty wet.
The rain gets heavier and we decide that we can probably (possibly, hopefully, maybe, you reckon?) afford it. So we head up, order some food and wine, and ask for a room. It’s all pretty cheap, thankfully, so I don’t feel too guilty as we sit outside with our crno vino and eat uštipć and spinach burek, watching the rain fall down.
The woman who runs the restaurant doesn’t speak English, but we get by well. She’s lovely. The rest of the customers slowly leave the restaurant until it’s just us, the rain and the peaceful evening.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Stage 34
Start and end points: Old watermills at Vodenice to Tušila
Approximate distance: 15 km
Villages: Bobovica – Tušila
Features: Old watermills at Vodenice – Nekropole sa stećcima (necropolis) – Planina Visočica (Visočica mountain) – Drvsta (1808 m) – Vito (1960 m) – Planinarksi dom Vrela (Vrela mountain hut) – Restoran Visočica (across the road from Vrela)