Plan for the day
The plan was to take a leisure drive to Jajce, another town of Bosnia & Herzegovina. At Jajce we had two main sights to visit, they were the windmill of Jajce and Jajce Falls at the edge of town. Since we had plenty of time to get to Jajce we decided to drive southward on to Road 408 before going onto Highway 761.
Going onto Road 408 was a very bad decision. Shortly after Una National Park the road was so bumpy and full of potholes. It was wet due to the rain at dawn so travelling on this bumpy and muddy road was a very uncomfortable. It took us close to 3.5 hour to reach Jajce. At Jajce we visited Jajce watermills which was interesting, sort of a “open museum” of the past. Before we could visit Jajce waterfalls the weather turned bad and started drizzling then hailing. In spite of the bad weather we still went over to Jajce Falls to have a look. The falls was beautiful and very unique. At night we stayed at Jajce Youth Hostel.
On the road to Jajce
In the morning, before we left Vasva and Hasim’s house we had a short conversation with them. They both did not speak English so our conversation was limited to hand gestures and google translate. They had a daughter who was living somewhere in USA. Vasva was eager to show us his vegetable crop and Hazim was just as friendly.
At about 9.30 am we said our good byes and drove off. We back tracked on the dirt road, where we had come from the day before, driving toward Entrance 3. Beside the dirt road, was Una river and in the morning after a dawn shower some sections of the river had a very unique tranquility. The water had this “unreal” look, it looked like a some sort of a gel or jelly.
After we exited Entrance 3, we could turn either way onto R408. If we drove north we would join H761 after 11 km, but if we drove south then after 70 km we would join H761. Though driving south would be about by 30 km longer and an additional 45 minutes, we thought the longer road would be a more scenic route so we set off in the southward direction.
About 30 minutes on R408 we saw a castle from afar. This medieval structure sitting on a hilltop was Ostrovica Castle of Ostrovica Old town. Ostrovica was a small fortified town built on one of the peaks of Rudnik mountain.
Somewhere after Ostrovica Castle the road became very horrible. The tar road became a gravel road, full of bumps and potholes filled with water. It was an absolutely nightmare to drive on this road. The car tilted and rocked so much when going over the road that it left me constantly bumping left and right in my seat. It was a long and slow uncomfortable drive of over 10 km. The road led to Martin Brod Falls (another famous falls of Una National Park). I was told that Martin Brod Falls was not as impressive as Strbacki Falls (which we saw the day before), so we decided not to detour to Martin Brod but to go forward to Jajce. Somehow the lousy road put me in a very bad mood and made me wanted to get out of this place as soon as possible.
We had to drive for another 50 km before we joined Highway 761 and then another 97 km before we arrived at Jajce. The route from Apartments Vasva & Hazim should take about less than 3 hours but we took about 3 hr 40 min.
Despite the bad road we did see some beautiful villages along the way. One of the most scenic towns was Drvar. Drvar and the numerous outlying villages were seated in a vast valley with the Dinaric Alps in their background, the place reminded me of the Vikos villages in Greece.
We reached our first destination, Watermills of Jajce just after 1 pm. We parked our car by the side of the road and walked down to the watermills. These watermills looked like little huts on skinny stilts built over the gushing water of the Pliva river.
These huts went back to the period of the Austro-Hungarian empire. From far they looked like little houses for little people. We crossed a bridge over the Pliva river and found a path that led to the huts. The huts were connected by a boardwalk, we went from one hut to the next. These huts did not have windows and their doors were locked so we could not see into their interiors.
We supposed in the old days, these huts would house water wheels connected to stone mills. The wheels/mills would be turned by gushing water which were used to ground wheat into flour for local farmers. The Pliva river at this section was spread over a wide area with its water dispersed all over the rock slope. So it was more feasible to built many small wheels and mills to gather the energy of the moving water.
The sky was turning dark so we walked back to our car, just before we reached it a young man with a cap and a pouch came to collect parking fee. He showed us some kind of a pass so we presumed he was an authentic car park fee collector. The parking charges was 2 BAM (SGD$1.6 or €1) an hour.
It started drizzling so we decided not to proceed to our second sights, Jajce Falls, but to check in to our hostel, Jajce Youth Hostel and waited out the rain. While waiting in our rooms, we suddenly heard the noise of the rain getting very loud. Looking out of the window we realised that it was not raining water drops but ice!. It was a hailstorm.
The rain was intermittent and looked like it would last for the rest of the day. Once the rain lightened up we drove to the heart of the old town which was only 800 m from our hostel. To get into the old town we had to drive through a narrow arch/tunnel, Travnik Gate, south entrance of the old town.
Beside Travnik gate that had this medieval look the rest of the buildings around town did not looked very old. We parked our car along the road and came down to explore. Parking was not free! Parking charges was 2 BAM an hour. We wanted to explore the town, but quickly gave up the idea because the intermittent drizzle made it difficult, we kept having to hide from the rain!
There was nothing else to do except to look for a place to grab some coffee, food or cakes to eat. It was only 3.30 pm so it would be a very very early dinner cum coffee break. Again Lin Ying went on to Tripadvisor for a recommendation, there was a restaurant, Kod Asima, with good reviews just around the corner. It was actually housed in a building attached to the Travnik Entrance.
Walking through the entrance of the restaurant, I thought I had entered the wrong place. The first level did not look anything like a restaurant, it was dark and there was a old staircase at the end. Walking up the stairs, I did not hear the familiar noise of a dining crowd, it felt as though I was entering a private residence. It was only on reaching the 2nd level that I sighed a relieve.
Looking at the locals dining in the hall, we could tell that Kod Asima was definitely a local restaurant. We requested the young waitress to recommend some authentic local dishes and dessert. We had “begova corba”, “gulas”, salad and mixed grilled.
For dessert we had coffee with cream and Hurmašica, a local dessert. Hurmasica tasted like cold buttery biscuit soaked in sugary syrup. Too sweet for us. Luckily we bought only one to share among the four of us. After one bite, I had enough and quickly glurped down my bitter coffee to counter the overly sweetness in my mouth. The entire bill came up to 32 BAM (SGD$25 or €16), very inexpensive for such an sumptuous meal.
Jajce Falls was on the same side as the town, to view it we drove to the other side of the Pliva River. There was a car park at a viewpoint just beside the gas station. The moment we parked our car, a man walked towards us to collect parking charges, 2 BAM for an hour again. Oh great! So far I had already paid 7 BAM. 2 BAM at the watermills, 3 BAM in the old town and 2 BAM now and I wondered how much more to come. I tried to read the small print on the parking ticket and its said that the charges were 2 BAM per hour or 5 BAM for the whole day in JAJCE. Too bad we did not have a 5 BAM parking ticket!
Viewpoint 1 was easy to locate, it was on a road across the Pliva river. The road overlooked the falls and it looked magnificent. There was a set of stairs that allowed visitors to walk down to a lower view deck.
I had seen pictures of Jajce falls taken at a higher view point. From my “guesstimate” the second view point should be along expressway E661. Unfortunately, the street view of Bosnia on the google map was not complete, so I could not “online walk” the road and find out if there was a viewpoint along E661. All I could gather was E661 was on a hilly forested area.
We were definitely going to search out the 2nd viewpoint. From viewpoint 1 we drove toward E761, there we turned left and drove toward E661. We came to a T-junction and we turned left again. Once on E661, I began to look out for a possible viewpoint. I saw a path leading down a slope just by the road and felt that could be it! Now we needed a safe place to park our car. Just about 500 m from the T-junction was a car park. We parked our car and walked back the way we came from, toward the the slope where I saw the path earlier on.
E661 was on a high ground running beside Vrbas river. From across the river we could see the majestic Jajce Fortress standing proudly on a hill overlooking the houses in the old town.
We reached the path, it led us down a slope just beside the road, after a short distance we reached a wooden pavilion. From the pavilion we could see Jajce fortress, the town and Jajce Falls. The drizzle had stopped and the sun was setting. The sun rays came out from behind the overcast sky and cast directly on the fortress and the town houses, giving them a “golden hue”. Even the falling water took on a special sparking quality. The scene was very beautiful and we were here just at the right time.
I had booked two rooms (twin and double) in Jajce Youth Hostel on Booking.com. I chose it because it was just 800 m from the old town and it was also near Jajce Falls. The cost of the rooms were very good considering that both had ensuite toilets. The twin room costed 46 BAM ( SGD$34 or €23) and the double at 41 BAM (SGD$31 or €21).
When we arrived at the youth hostel at about 2 pm in the afternoon, the glass door to the hostel was locked and there was nobody inside. I called a local number that was given to me but nobody picked up the line. I had to go into the restaurant next door to check how I could get in contact with the hostel staff. The restaurant staff called up the lady in charge and in limited English we gathered that the restaurant staff would help us settled in.
Jajce Youth Hostel was also an autocamp and there was a huge sign that said bikers were welcome. Though it was a youth hostel, I saw more bikers than youth. I figured one of the reasons that this place was popular with bikers could be due to the restaurant and bar at the basement/ground level. Well our rooms were on the fourth level so we were very far from them and the noise.
The double room was huge despite it being cheaper than the twin room. Besides the sleeping area that had a double bed it also had a sitting area with a sofa bed. Generally the place felt a bit (only a bit) dirty, shabby and stale. The beds, furniture and furnishing were kind of flimsy (not sturdy). When I finally met the lady in charge, she voluntarily told me that this place was a family run hostel and being a hostel the charges had to be kept low which meant guests should expect only “hostel” level kind of standard. She was not being rude but chatted with me to keep my expectation realistic.
At least this place had free wifi. It also had a shared kitchen beside the office. The kitchen looked pretty unused probably because there were a restaurant and bar in the same building so most guests did not find the need to cook