G'day from Graz! I've given up the Romania idea for this trip and decided to go easy on myself and head back into western Europe to enjoy the Alps.
I last wrote from sarajevo, before heading out towards Tuzla, where some neighbours of ours in Joondalup Dian & Mira, came from. I find it interesting how people migrate from all ends of the earth to Perth in WA so am interested to see places where people come from.
Today's story begins as I ride north east from Sarajevo and round a corner to see a huge array of animal skins hung out in the sun, obviously for sale. A quick visual scan identified some sheepskins and as my eyes, brain and backside assessed the possibilities i found myself sliding to a halt in the gravel. I did the woolclasser thing and found a denser woolled skin then asked the price. 15 Euros! What a bargain - would cost $150 in Oz so the man and I did a deal and I rode away in comfort. I used to have a sheepskin on my old Honda back in 1983 but haven't had one for years as thought they were too dear. Not sure what my wife will say when she reads this - would have been nice a couple of weeks ago!
I expect the Aussie customs officers will have a siezure over my sheepskin but will worry about that when the time comes, meanwhile I'm happy.
The road wound its way through more open farmland and then back into mountains. The trucks were working hard both up and down hills and made it painfull for the cars wanting to go past. No real problem on the bike though, so I enjoyed the ride. Stopped for lunch at the little log cabin in the pic every time I stop anywhere in the heat they try to sell me beer. Makes me wonder about the other drivers!
Tuzla itself is an industrial town and the first thing i saw where huge smokestacks. It was pretty hot and the sun was making it difficult to look up as I went through town - that's why i got to meet Igor.
I had bee following a truck carrying something that smelt fermented - I thought it was the town at first, then I saw the truck with fluid runnig out. I passed the truck, then lane split between the traffic at the next set of lights. The lights are only on superstructure above the road, and difficult to see. When the first car took off i dropped the clutch and followed it, önly to see a young policeman motioning for it and me to pull over into a bus stop. he said something to me in his language and I replied 'is there a problem' he said 'yes, there is problem'. I asked if he spoke English and he did a little bit. Apparently it seems i had taken off before the lights had sugnalled it was entirely legal to do so. He asked me my name and where from, and told me his name was Igor. We conceded it was difficult to see the lights through two sets of spectacles and a visor and he let me off - he gave the car in front a ticket.
Tuzla was crowded on the roads, the lake appeared to be very crowded and i took one side road that lead me top a spot where about ten older men were lining up for an outside shower. I found the Post Office and posted my postcard to Dian. I didn't have the correct currency so the girl didn't charge me for the stamp - nice, i thought.
The old centar of Tuzla is nice and getting better, there was much refurbishment going on. There were nbot many tourists around though - mainly locals, including one family who thought it would be a good idea to send their young daughter after me begging for money - she was unsuccessful.
After this I thought the countryside was better so rode toward Lucavak where I had been told there was a good camsite. The Ontario was very difficult to find but after asking three sets of locals I finnally arrived to a very pretty albeit crowded campsite and secured a tent site for 5 Euro. I enjoyed a swim and afterward shared a table with a muslim man who claimed to be Atheist and accepted all people. Through the language barrier we enjoyed a great yarn and learnt a bit about each other's world. I will not forget the look in his eyes as he spoke about the war atrocities and begged me not to go to serbia and Romania.
In the morning I decided to take his advice and head north.