BLOG | Biking from Skopje to Mostar via Durmitor National Park

After almost three months in North Macedonia it was time to leave the country. Literary, because my tourist visa would expire after ninety days. I choose to head towards Kosovo, partly because I wanted to leave the option open to go for a hike in Prokletije, but mostly because I wanted to ride through Durmitor National Park. Although I was still far from light weight packed, I felt ready to give the mountains another chance while biking from Skopje to Mostar.

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BLOG | Ski Hut Gorica, looking back on three months in Mavrovo National Park

The 5th of May I arrived in Mavrovi Anovi, at Ski Hut Gorica to be precise. This mountain lodge has been my home base for May, June and July. In the first place I helped out with the usual things like cleaning and making the beds, helping guests to find their way around and providing them with information to have them explore Mavrovo National Park. But there were also quite a bunch of other jobs such as painting furniture, building lockers and gardening for example. And if a good weather window opened, I couldn’t resist running off into the mountains. So, yeah, no reason to be bored.

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BLOG | Biking from Sarajevo to Mavrovo

Left Sarajevo in the rain, woke up in snow. It’s May, but in the mountains it feels like Spring is still asleep. Alright, then I have another excuse to find myself an easier road. Not that I don’t like mountains, I love them, but it’s damn though and I’m not properly equipped. Or actually, I’m over-equipped with non-biking related equipment. I’m heavy and slow and a tiny little bit in a hurry, because the second week of May I hope to be able to help my friends in Mavrovi Anovi by looking after their house while they’re gone. And thus, I tried to find a relatively easy, but still very scenic route from Sarajevo to Mavrovo.

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BLOG | Biking from Zagreb to Sarajevo | Bosnian Border at Novi Grad

Hey there, it’s adventure time. I’m biking from Zagreb to Sarajevo and further on to Macedonia, Skihut Gorica in Mavrovi Anovi to be precise. This year I’ll travel to only a few locations in the Balkans, because I’d like to spend more time in one place. Visit friends, pick up rock climbing and write. But I also want to learn about organic farming and fishing, do volunteer work and learn to speak the language like I did in Zagreb. As long as the weather allows I’ll use my bike as transport. I sort have a route, but I have no idea what I’m capable off. Guess I’ll find out along the way.

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BLOG | Balls

At the end of the month I’d like to look back on what I’ve done, on how I felt and what was on my mind. While scrolling through the photos, I immediately got a smile on my face. I like Zagreb. It’s been almost two months since I left the Netherlands and although I thought I didn’t do much, except for learning Croatian, it turned out that I explored quite a bit. So, here’s a photo journal about my life in Zagreb and an unorganized list of things to do in and around Zagreb.

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BLOG | Hello Zagreb | THE VIEW

When I open my eyes it’s dark, but I know we arrived in Zagreb. Hello Zagreb! The bus waits for a traffic light, when I look to the right I see McDonald’s and the casino. My eyes search for the church, the church on the opposite side of the building I live. Found it. It’s not the prettiest neighborhood in Zagreb, but I’m excited to be back. Even though I only live and lived here for a few months, it feels like “my” neighborhood. And even though I don’t have my own house or apartment, it feels like coming home.

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BLOG | Trebevic Tales | SNOWED in

It has been over a month since my last update, but before I move on to new stories, I’d like to write the third part of my “Trebević Tales” series, the episode where we got snowed in. Or snowed out actually. Anyhow. Let me see, I think my last update stopped somewhere on the way down. Down to town. Yes. After almost two weeks on Trebević mountain I desperately needed a shower – wash and brush my hair, that kind of stuff. So, together with Sabina and Dado (regular customer and friend of the hut) I made my way through the snow towards the city. Sarajevo city. 

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The first week on Trebević felt like one big weekend. There were people coming up for tea or coffee, for a warm meal, for a beer or something stronger. There were people spending the night at the hut, there was another vulonteer from Brasil and there was a New Year’s Eve party and a New Year’s Day hike. Busy winter holidays.

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Hiking on Trebević mountain, Bosnia and Herzegovina

“What are you doing for Christmas? Where will you be at New Year’s Eve? Do you have plans for your birthday?” Same questions every year. More or less same answer every year. “Don’t know, I’ll see.” For me the holidays aren’t anything special. I’d be totally fine hanging out in a hut, shovelling snow, making fire, walk a little, read a little. But to be honest this year I did feel like spending time with friends. Maybe I could do this walking, fire- making and snow shovelling stuff wíth friends?

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BLOG | The Island of Pag, Rab and Učka Nature Park

Bura, Jugo, Bura, Jugo, Bura and there’s the Jugo again. Jugo brings clouds and rain from Italy, Bura blows it with a good dose of freezing cold air all away. In between it’s calm. So serene. Although I’m constantly checking the weather, it’s actually not bad at all. It’s exactly what I wished the winter to be like. Fresh air, clear skies and a whole lot of quietness. I learned that my tent can’t do wind, but even that’s okay. Just have to be a bit more strategic and opt for a room when there’s no other way out. Now I’m this close to Učka Nature Park, I will give everything I have to cross the finish line. Or in this case the finish top.

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Krka National Park with Krka river, Croatia

One more mountain to go. One more mountain before the trail would turn flat and take me to Krka National Park, Vransko jezero and eventually back to the coast. Bittersweet. I love those mountains, don’t want them to end. At the same time it’s getting harder and harder, colder and most of all, windier. But okay, that’s the season. I will give my best. And if my best isn’t good enough, I will come back another time.

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BLOG | Mostar, Omiška Dinara and Mosor mountain

On Biokovo it suddenly got cold. Cold, but still sunny. “Little Bura is coming” someone said. Bura, wind from the North can be tricky so I decided to go to Mostar to pick up warm clothes and new shoes before heading on to Omiška Dinara. Smart move, because on my way down my sandals ánd my FiveFingers fell apart. Even without Bura it would have been impossible to continue. Time to dust of those thumbs and get myself a ride to town.

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BLOG | BIOKOVO Hiking Trail, Sveti Ilija from the other side

There are moments I feel proud and thankful at the same time. Proud of where I am. Thankful that I can be where I am. The Via Dinarica website writes that the Blue Trail after the Baćinska lakes, the most southern part of the Biokovo Hiking Trail, is neglected and therefor not hikable. I had to walk the Jadranska magistrala, the main coastal road. Not my first choice, so I decided to be stubborn and check out the state of the hiking trail. Turned out that I would get to experience one of my favorite Via Dinarica moments on exactly this part of the trail. On an insignificant peak of an insignificant mountain. Insignificant, but indescribably magical.

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It’s all about the mindset, but how to set your mind when you’re hiking the last leg of a trail which is still 900 kilometers? It’s not like I’m almost done, while at the same time it’s the last part. Also, the word mindset implies that I’m in control of my mind. I whish. Or maybe not? In reality my mind is influenced by how I feel just as much as the other way around. My solution: try not to think too much, just hike. And so I did.

Continue Reading "The area of Dubrovnik, island Mljet and Pelješac peninsula"
Primorska Planinarska Transverzala Montenegro

I’m not much of a mile-maker, but last few weeks I’ve been walking in circles, exploring, climbing, bouldering, jeep touring and most of all: I’ve been chilling so much that I’m up for some real long distance hiking again. I want to get back to my hiking rhythm. EAT SLEEP HIKE REPEAT. Also, if I want to finish all Via Dinarica trails this year, I’d better get on moving, because days are rapidly getting shorter.

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Ohrid lake Kališta

The last night of our boulder trip we camped near Treskavec monastery, a brilliant place. Actually it was my last night, the rest of the crew stayed, but I felt ready to continue hiking. To be on my own again. From the monastery I followed an easy going hiking trail down to Prilep. I snapped tons of photos, stopped and stared more than I walked. In a way Pelagonija reminded me of Mojave desert, but without Joshua trees. And slightly smaller. Nevertheless, an impressive landscape.

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BLOG | Connecting the Dots, hiking in Tara National Park

Nobody said it would be easy, but I’m not looking for easy. I wanted to hike from Višegrad to Tara National Park, to the Serbian Via Dinarica Green Trail, Veliki Stolac, without making a detour on the road. Hiking beyond borders is one thing, hiking beyond overgrown border is another. My plan was to find a a route, a green line. I tried my best “connecting the dots”.

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BLOG TRAILNOTES Via Dinarica Green Trail from Sarajevo to Višegrad

Jep, I’m hiking again. From Sarajevo I’m heading East on the Jahorina Trailrun Track, my version, or my interpretation of the Via Dinarica Green Trail. This June I’ll be hiking from Sarajevo to Višegrad. Those of you who  follow me on Facebook might have read these notes before, yes I’m a bit lazy. Nevertheless I hope this post is either helpful or inspiring for whoever’s thinking of hitting the trail.

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Hiking from Amsterdam to the Alps, First Milestone!

The 24th of March I left Amsterdam to hike for a while. “Walking back to the Balkans”. Why? Because I can, because I like hiking. Because it’s slow, because it’s a perfect way to really see a country. To feel and experience. Because I feel good, being “on the road”. And because I thought it would be a good idea to (re)discover my own country, before heading off to the Balkans. Right now I hiked from Amsterdam to the Alps, oeff that a real milestone!

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another-year

I’ve been a bit quiet the last few weeks. No new stories and no updates. I divide my time between Sarajevo and Zagreb. Between writing and hiking. Travel up and down, pay a visit to the mountains every now and then and meet lots of old and new friends. But what am I up to? I, most of the time, don’t even know myself… All I know is that and don’t want to go back yet…

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While sitting on my balcony, watching the sunset I realise I am ready. It feels weird, I’m having an amazing time here, but I’m also ready to move on. The adventure I am so much looking forward to is about to begin. Well, that’s not entirely true, the adventure has already started long ago. Life is one big adventure. I’m just moving on. A next chapter. Today I have sent ahead the last package for supplies on the road. Besides maps and directions it contains…Continue Reading “Ready to go!”

BLOG | Goings in Sarajevo

It’s Tuesday today, which means I have already been here over a week. Time flies! The todo list I made last week may not be growing, but looking at it I ask myself what I did do. That’s why it is a good idea to keep a diary, any form of diary. I’m not quite sure what to call myself here. Obviously I’m a tourist, but I am staying longer than usual and not doing as much sightseeing. Maybe I am a visitor, or a guest,…Continue Reading “Goings in Sarajevo”

BLOG | I’m going on a trip and I’m taking…

Saturday May 14th, accompanied by two friends and with all my luggage I left home and took the night train from Amsterdam to München. Because I thought it would be a good idea to take my bicycle, I had four extra panniers to fill with stuff. This also meant a serious challenge on the journey with all the changes in trains and buses, but I managed. In München I changed trains to Villach, there I had 10 minutes to change to the Zagreb train. On…Continue Reading “I’m going on a trip and I’m taking”