Day Two in Sarajevo: Rafting

Apologies everyone, as the title is somewhat misleading. While I am based out of Sarajevo, my day yesterday was spent decidedly outside of the city, enjoying the great outdoors of the Bosnian countryside. While the city has much to offer, it was a nice change of pace to spend a day away!

As Madeleine, Sam, and I were waiting in the hostel lobby to be picked up, we were eagerly awaiting this all day affair. Granted, we all were pretty tired (8:30 call times are early for vacations, in my humble opinion), but eager nonetheless. The journey to our destination, which I’m a bit ashamed to ashamed to say that I still have no idea what it was called, took just over an hour. I was able to take in the gorgeous Bosnian countryside, which definitely was a perk of the trip! Seriously, getting to see the rolling hills and small towns was a fantastic glimpse into the rest of Bosnia, and I am grateful to have seen it. Other than the seeing the scenery, nothing else of note happened until we arrived at the rafting house.

Once we arrived, we were treated to a much-needed breakfast of scrambled eggs mixed with bacon (mmm, bacon), where the three of us met with our fellow raft-mates. Agathe and Jeanne were from France, and later on we met with the two Saudis and an Israeli to round out our motley crew. We all got along well from the getgo, which boded well for the long day of teamwork and camraderie. After having gained some energy, we were kitted up in our wetsuits and shoes (wetshoes? I don’t know what the technical name for them are.) and took a 20 minute ride to get to our destination. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, Bosnia has plenty of hills, so the trip to the lake was harrowing. Our driver, who spoke no English, joked with us that he didn’t know how to drive/he was driving with no hands on the wheel,t hat show of fun helped lighten the already light mood. Finally, we arrived at the head of the lake! The first thing that struck me was how gorgeous the water was-it was clear to the point of being able to see the bottom. As both Sam and I were the only ones with prior rafting experience, we were told to head off to the front, I admit to experiencing a surge of power with being trusted up there. As for the rafting itself, it was a solid afternoon, if not uneventful. (We only had a few moments where the water caused some brief pangs of concern. Other than that it was 99 percent straight rowing on quiet water.) Twice along the way, our excellent guide told us about spots where we can jump off cliffs. I did partake in that, but not before realizing that said cliffs looked a lot taller at the top than at water level. My only concern was to prevent my contacts from being knocked out, ala whitewater rafting in Maryland several years ago, but I succeeded in this endeavor. The chance to cool off in the water was another highly welcome opportunity, considering the weather was stifling hot. Going from a hot and sunny day (for which I’ve earned a debilitatingly painful sunburn from even with sunscreen) to water about 30 degrees cooler was a shock to my body, but absolutely worth it! Some of us were even joking that we should’ve booked this tour the previous day, as it was an even hotter day. Save for the odd moment where we would encounter a fellow rafting tour and try to douse them in water, the day went along well. Towards the very end, we all were exhausted thanks to the heat and paddling (my arm was begging me to end it all by the time we reached hallowed land), but the sight of the gorgeous rafting house gave us a final wind to paddle as hard as we could. To cap the day’s excursion off, we all were treated to an excellent dinner (technically a pretty late lunch) of fish caught from the very same lake. Together with our newly made friends, there was no better way to finish the day!

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