I’m practically hopping with excitement as we’re ushered through the Simovića household to the terrace table that is our designated eating area. It’s breakfast, and, after last night’s incredible dinner, expectations are high.
One glance at the spread, and it’s clear that this meal is going to be even better than the last: there’s thick yoghurt, eggs (both boiled and fried), warm bread, plum marmalade, paprika dip, tomato salad and two kinds of cheese. It’s served with herbal tea and, a few minutes later, a mug of hot milk, which presumably comes from the cow munching away outside. I just hope I’m hungry enough to finish it.
These Bosnian households, with their fresh and simple food, have inspired me a little. When I get home I hope to remember that simple foods can taste incredible when they’re made with such care and such delicious ingredients. It’s rare that we’re served anything that would actually take much of a recipe; just attention to detail.
Finishing up our delicious breakfast, we sign the log book and head to the kitchen to pay. I’m a bit nervous about this – we have a very limited supply of cash at the moment, and I don’t know exactly how much this place costs – but, thankfully, by combing our Euros and Marks, we have just enough, leaving us with about 3 KM (AU $2.55) left over. We’re also completely out of food (if you don’t count stock cubes) so today’s resupply in Kalinovik can’t come soon enough. I just hope there’s an ATM.
Luckily Kalinovik is less than five kilometres down the road, though, with our bursting stomachs, even that seems a long way. Feeling clean and dry after our showers at Simovića kuće, we elect to take an extra hill rather than cross through a grassy field. Usually I wouldn’t care about getting my trousers wet in the long, dewy grass, but today’s practically a rest day: all we really have to do is resupply in Kalinovik.
When we get there, Kalinovik isn’t really like anything I expected. For starters, all the signs are written in Cyrillic. The cars are old and falling apart. The streets are busy, but it kind of just feels like everyone is loitering with no purpose. There’s lots of children – I guess it’s school holidays? – but they’re brandishing a disconcerting number of toy guns. Most of all, it feels like a town with no centre, or which has had it’s centre taken away. An odd place really.
We install ourselves in Cafe Leon, and, after uploading a blog post or two, set about finding some food for the next five days (thankfully there is an ATM). It’s a bit tricky as, while there are three shops, all of them are tiny and lack such hiking essentials as muesli and wraps. For breakfast we end up buying what I think is wheat germ, but it’s hard to tell: as mentioned earlier, everything is in Cyrillic.
(EDIT: the wheat germ turned out to actually be crushed biscuits. Delicious, but not particularly nutritious.)
It takes a few rounds of the shops, but eventually we get enough food to not die in the wild. Learning from past mistakes, we also ensure we have lots of snacks.
Bags bulging, we head over to the local Russian restaurant to eat a late lunch and deal with another problem: all my gear is falling apart. In addition to my pack frame that broke a few weeks ago, my boots (Scarpa GTX Terras) have developed holes in both sides of both feet. I’ve sent emails to the respective stores from where I bought the gear, however I now find out that both shops have closed! Am I cursed?
I set about sending more emails to the manufacturers, but I don’t have much hope I’ll be able to get any replacements before the end of the hike. So wet feet it is for me.
By 4 pm we’ve decided we’ve seen just about all that Kalinovik has to offer. It’s another quick 5 km road walk, and we’re at our second B&B for the day, this one at the Lalović family household in Jelašca.
If Simovića had incredible food, Lalović has incredible rooms. Visitors are installed in a great big log cabin, decorated with old tools, barrels, and bits of machinery. It’s very cosy, especially after our obligatory welcome rakia. After our huge breakfast, and a late lunch in Kalinovik, we decline to have dinner. But it’s a hard decision. The food has just been been so delicious recently. I guess the irony is that the one day we eat incredibly well, we also only walk ten kilometres. Ah well.
After exploring the cabin, we settle down by the fire. I’m reading Greyfriars Bobby, Kris is doing some writing. We should do more hiking like this.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Stage 35
Approximate distance: 10 km
Villages: Vlaholje – Kalinovik – Jelašca
Features: Simoviće kuća – Markets in Kalinovik (three small ones) – Bankomat in Kalinovik (ATM) (next to Hotel Moskva) – Restaurants, cafes and guesthouses in Kalinovik (Cafe Leon, Hotel Moskva, others) – Lalović family B&B