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  • Wolfgang Fobo

Bosnian Triple

Anybody ever heard of Medurecje? Or Odzak? Or Domaljevac? Neither did I. These are 3 exclaves inside and outside of Bosnia. And since I have succumbed to a certain crazy hobby which is visiting all enclaves and exclaves on this globe (admittedly, just one craziness of many I have succumbed to), it was just a question of time until I would visit these truly odd places.

Absolutely unassuming, the exclave of Odzak (pertaining to the Federation of Bosnia/Hercegovina, but lying in the Republic Srpska)

Both Odzak and Domaljevac cannot even be considered a true exclaves, because they are located inside the territory of the country "Bosnia", but since Bosnia consists of 2 entities, the Federation of Bosnia/Hercegovina, and the Republik Srpska, these 2 exclaves are - can I say ? - in "enemy territory", seen from the point of view of the Federation, because they are fully surrounded by the Republic Srpska (and the border to Croatia).

Medurecje however is a true exclave, totally surrounded by Serbia.

Well, even an outsider feels that these 2 entities do not want to have much to do with the respective other one. In particular I could not avoid the impression that the Republic Srpska rather wants to go it alone or unite with Serbia. It seems to me that this Bosnia is a forced Union. Like an unhappy marriage.

Nevertheless, I decided to pay a visit to all these 3 exclaves, and so I rented a car in Zagreb, Croatia. And you need a car when you want to visit such outworldly places.

Both Odzak and Domaljevac are located in the North of Bosnia, straddling the border with Croatia. And apart from the fact that these are exclaves, they are absolutely unassuming and in my view they do not exhibit of any touristic value.

Contrary to this advertisement I could not find anything of interest in the exclave of Domaljevac (plus Orasje)

Crossing the "border" from one entity into the other would go even unnoticed. Only when you are in the Republic Srpska, the show their flag (and rather avoid to display the flag of the country of Bosnia). Also I noticed more propaganda, nationalist propaganda.

Each entity has their hero monument, from the civil war in the 1990s.

Dedicated to the fallen soldiers of the civil war in the 1990s. Here in Odzak, displaying the fallen Croatian soldiers in their defense against Serb aggression,and vice versa: Similar monuments can be seen in the Republika Srpska

It was a total different story, and another effort, to reach Medurecje, which is located at virtually the other side of Bosnia. My GPS mentioned something like 300 km on the road. Which when you drive in Germany, may not raise any eyebrows, but this is not the case in Bosnia. In Bosnia you celebrate driving a car in a rather crawling mode. One reason being the geography (mountainous, road following narrow valley), then the roads being rather narrow, and finally a relative strong police presence with their radar traps. Often, when the speed limit was 60 km/h, I crawled along with 50 km/h or even less, after local drivers who mostly drove very passively. In short, if you want to crawl a car, go to Bosnia.

And then, my GPS played a dirty trick on me. I survived an adventure which I never again want to repeat. I followed the GPS, as you do when in unknown territory, and gradually the road turned out to be narrower and narrower, and less frequented. Until it lead to an unpaved path, or trail, into a forest. After a few 100m I wanted to return, but the trail was too narrow, so I kept my fingers crossed and hoped for a short journey on a stony trail, which I drove in first gear, dead scared to suffer a flat tyre. Absolute loneliness, no chance to turn around, I crawled forward. Suddenly, a biker showed up behind me, always keeping a distance of perhaps 30m. I preferred not to give him the chance to let him pass (who knows what intentions he would have?). I was almost panicking (or, forget the "almost"). After perhaps 8 km, the nightmare was over, I reached an asphalted narrow trail, but only to lead to another unpaved and stony trail, for another 8 km, but this time not through forest, but in the open. Again 8 km in first gear, praying not to suffer a flat tyre. Finally, end of nightmare, I reached the asphalt road, and first thing I did was to analyze the settings of my GPS. Found a button "avoid unpaved roads" which I was not aware of that it existed, turned it on, and from there on I did not touch any unpaved road anymore. And I will not, no matter what any GPS would guide me in future. I swear: "never unpaved trails". Rather I drive the longest detours.

Exhausted and being late I interrupted my journey to Medurecje and staid the night in Visegrad. Which is a pretty little town, with tour friendly people. Worth a visit.

The old bridge in Visegrad, one of the main tourist attractions

Next day the remaining 50 km to Medurecje.

The border officer hesitated to believe that I just wanted to cross into Medurecje, and it took me some persuasion that he let me pass. A minute later I had to show my passport to the Serbian border officer (who made less of a fuss, probalbly he was forewarned by the Bosnian side that a crazy tourist would arrive). Anyhow, I could pass, Anfall of a sudden in was in Medurecje.

Medurecje. What a lonely place.

Here you see how the Serbs (Medurecje pertains to Republika Srpska) honour the flags. While the Serbian flag is clearly to be seen, the Bosnian one (of the country it belongs to) is made unnoticed.

Earlier I read that when you visit Medurecje, you would receive 8 stamps into your passport (leaving Bosnia, entering Serbia, leaving Serbia, entering Medurecje, and the same in return), I did not receive a single one. So, apparently the Bosnian officer understood me (he only spoke Serbian) that I would return after one hour, so he decided that I would not leave Bosnia. And the Serbian officer also decided that practically I would not enter Serbia.

This foto is made on the Serbian side of the bridge, the other side being Medurecje. What a forgotten place.

I decided to leave earlier than expected, and started my return trip to Zagreb. Last night I spent in Jajce, another pretty small town in Bosnia, passing great sceneries.

Bosnia is full of forests, valleys, mighty rivers, narrow roads...

And eventually, this journey found a Happy End, in Zagreb, when I could return the car unharmed. This unexpected "adventure" with crawling some 20 km in first gear on an unpaved trail with no chance to turn around, through god-forsaken territory, was by far the biggest challenge to master. Lesson learned, never again unpaved roads in such lonely places...

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