Our Peugeot was fairly hootin along the German highway, the roads were the best we had seen and you gotta move quick to keep up with the other lunatics. Even when you're going 170km per hour the Audi's are doing high 200's and literally fly past you in a blink.
We weren't stopping for nothing, well maybe fuel, but our mission was clear. We were heading to my (Chris Beric) most anticipated location in the whole world for this year and in fact for my entire life. For my very time I was going to the place where it all started for the Beric family. Croatia and Bosnia, The Land of the Beric's!
My Grandfather (a.k.a Dida) was born in the country that is now known as Bosnia. He was the eldest of 11 Children and came to Australia some 50 years ago seeking to make a better life for his family. I am very grateful and proud for the sacrifices that he made. I am also glad that he chose Australia over his other option which was the USA. So I now have large amounts of family living in both Bosnia and Croatia. This is my Legendary Dida, apart from my father he is the best man I know:
Now I'm no Engineer or Historian, but just a bit of background info for you all, Croatia and Bosnia where both formerly known as Yugoslavia. It is my understanding that Croatia and Bosnia formed after the independence war between 1991 and 1995. This war was with the oppressive Serb controlled forces. Bonsia, Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia where all part of 7 provinces that made Yugoslavia. 'Bosnia' is still actually called 'Bosnia and Herzegovina' as Herzegovina is located within the South of Bosnia.
There is alot of crazy history which I won't go into but essentially Croatia achieved the two main goals that they declared at the beginning of the war, which were independence and the preservation of its borders. The impact of the war was devastating, there were many people killed and the damage was immeasurable.
Now nearly 20 years later, Croatia and Bosnia are back on their feet! The countries have many unique natural beauties and the tourism industry has flourished in the last decade. The Adriatic coastline along the south of Croatia features what many people consider to be some of the best beaches in the entire world. Croatia was also the top pick tourist destination in 2005 from the Lonely Planet Guide.
Sibenik - Croatia
Our first stop in Croatia was the coastal town of Sibenik. We were greeted by my amazing cousin Lucija!
There were lots of village festivals happening for Saint Mary's day. Lucija took us to an evening festival that was off the hook..
This is my Dida's brother, Tomislav. He literally built this entire house with his own bare hands.
Tomislav is stockpiling mass amounts of wine, beer, grapes and meat.. You gotta stock pile stuff.
Tomislavs wife Matija was the Master Chef of Sibenik!
This is Lucija's crazy boyfriend Josip. However, he is a mere sane person relative to the complete nutbag on the left hand side.
This guy used to have a drug addiction and hangs out in Lucija's cafe alot. He does a wacked out impersonation of Yoda from Starwars. Claims to have seen aliens, has a pet cockroach and became very paranoid when I tried to film him for the movie.
We had it all in Sibenik, we spent alot of time at the beaches. Three 'retired' Engineers, completely ignorant to our working lives back at home!
This is my cousin Mirko the man!
My awesome cousin's Iva, Ivica, Gabriela and llija were visiting from Switzerland, it was great to meet them!
Ivica is also know as HERCULES, us two boys need alot of muscle to push all the women off us you see..
Goliveno (Busko Jezero) - Bosnia
If you go to Croatia I recommend you visit in August as it is Summer, the weather is perfect and everybody is on holidays. But who works these days anyway?
Escaping Amsterdam and arriving in August was also part of my grand master plan concocted over a year ago. This was because on the 15th of August every year most of my family has a reunion BBQ to celebrate Saint Mary's day at Goliveno. The BBQ is at my uncles Cottage in Goliveno behind the lake (Busko Jezero) in Bosnia where my Dida grew up. This is the lake house that features at the start of the video below and is only an hour and half from the Bosnia border crossing North of split.
This is the house where my Dida grew up and you can see unfortunately it is just an unstable shell now. This damage was actually caused when the lake was damned and decided to flood.
The Beric family has a number of other cottages further up the hill behind the lake. At these cottages we Beric's are stockpiling vast amounts of fruit trees, bee's and vegetables gardens. When we arrived at BBQ I was greeted by my Dida's two Brothers, Ante and Pere. This was a very special day for me which I will never forget.
Livno - Bosnia
Next we went to Livno and stayed with Ante and Unka.
We were lucky enough to have my little 11 year old cousin Marina as our personal tour guide.
Marina showed the three of us around all of Livno and took us to a museum.
Marina is a Monkey and is some sort of genius child that has been teaching herself Enlgish. She is practically fluent and was literally performing as our translator alot of the time during our visit. This was useful as many of the older generations in Croatia do not speak English that well. All of the younger punk ass hooligans learn it in Highschool though so it makes travelling easy.
Marina is aspiring to be a judge one day and be as cool as my Brother Andrew. We owed Marina for all the translating so we scared the crap out of her by taking her on an adventure across a highly unstable wood plank above a river. There was potential rock climbing to be developed on the other side of the water you see..
Marina took us to gather water from a mysterious pipe coming out of a wall in the middle of a field. We figured it couldn't be any worse than the airport bathroom water nomad has been drinking at all the major cities we have been to this year.
Marina's dog tried to kill Steve and then turned on Nomad.
More of my lovely family was visiting from Switzerland, we literally bumped into them in the street..
I got done by another hot photos bomber, I don't know why this keeps happening to me :S
After Livno we went to stay with my Cousin's Mario, Ivana and Ivan in Tomislavgrad. This was where the madness began!
Ivana and Mario led us on all sorts of wacked out adventures. Mario was not the best at English but he tried, of Course he speaks way better English than I do Croatian. Mario added the word spadge to his limited English vocabulary repertoire..
"Spadge.. we go to Cafe bar to meet girls.."
This is how alot of our adventures began. They all involved some vague meeting arrangement at a Cafe bar co-ordinated by Mario. He didn't actually know what he was saying or planning half the time and often answered yes to critical questions if he didn't understand them...
Beric: Mario what time are we meeting your friends?
Beric: "Mario, is this the right highway we are driving on? where is this cafe?"
Mario: <no comprehension> "yes.... spadge.."
30 minutes later
Ivana: WHY DID YOU LISTEN TO MARIO, THIS IS NOT THE WAY!!!
Mario: NO, NO, YOU NO LISTEN TO MY SISTER, YOU LISTEN TO ME < followed by large amusing amounts of sibling bickering in Croatian >
Ivan didn't have much to say but when you did something right he would give a quick approving nod. Steve and I worked hard to get that nod.
Mario is only 15, but you can drink and go clubbing from whatever age you want in Tomislavgrad. Tomislavgrad is a very small village town with lots of other even smaller villages nearby. On weekends people come from all over the countryside and squash into the several 'Cafe bars' or clubs as we call them in Australia.
Mario's favourite place to take us was a Disco Tech club called 'Bubbles' and 'Rock Cafe'. In Bubbles some 300 crazy teenagers squash into the building, there's lasers flying everywhere, the music is pumping extremely loud at like 150db (NO JOKE) and everyone is smoking cigarettes. You can't move, hear anything, talk to one another or breath normally given all the smoke. There's no dance floor really, just a bunch of people going deaf and smiling at each other. It was a bizarre social event but we did meet alot of Rad people and Rafiki became uber famous in the village.
Ivana is one of the most amusing people Steve and I have ever met. We discovered quickly that Ivana's sense of humour has tipping point. If you do something funny enough that pushes her over this point she becomes completely out of control! It is hysterical. Her body goes completely limp in an instant. she literally collapses on the ground giggling and can longer speak. We had to be careful near windows and tables with sharp corners.
I taught Ivana to drive during our visit :) She picked it up very well except for hill starts. I had her trying over and over to do a hill start for about 10 minutes. I didn't realise but she was trying to do the hill start in 3rd gear the whole time. So that explained everything. Sorry, my mistake Ivana! When she changed into 1st to do the hill start she was so used to revving the crap out of the car that we did a burn out all the way up the hill and nearly crashed off the road. Good times!
Speaking of cars, Ivana's father is the king 4wd of Bosnia. He scared the crap out of me driving his beast up an insanely loose and steep dirt track.
We also went exploring for new rock With Mario, Ivana and Ivan. We trekked into some glorious remote Bosnian jungle.
There was a waterfall and a dense amount of stinging trees in one spot.
Steve and I had to take it like men and get stung all over our legs while carrying Ivan and Ivana on our backs. This is something I can imagine Lee and Sam doing. Nothing stops us Aussie's when we are looking for cliffs..
Ivana's mother Maria and her father treated us to a glorious grill (BBQ) in the woods!
Next we drove to Kastela near Split to stay with my Dida's other brother Kresimir. The road he lives on is very long and there were no house numbers displayed so we spent a good half hour driving up and down the street trying to find his house. Then Steve and I both looked at each other and said at the same time "HOLY CRAP, I SWEAR THAT WAS DIDA WAS STANDING ON THE SIDE ROAD BACK THERE". We stopped immediately, of course it was his very close look alike, Kresimir!
As with our stays with all my relatives, Kresimir and his wife Mira took great care of us! We were feed copious amounts of good food also, more food than you can ever imagine!
His son Kristijan took us on drinking mission in the park, similar arrangement to Dean Street. My smaller camera broke a few days before this so unfortunety I have no shots.
We also met Boris's new beautiful baby and wife! By the way, it turns out all of you have been calling me the wrong name for the last 24 years, I was reminded on a number of occasions by my family that Beric is actually pronounced with a CH i.e. BeriCH.
Near Kresimirs we did some climbing at Markezina.
At Markezina we met two cool climbers named Jadran and Branko, the Croart Hoolagans.
These guys were nutbags and organised for us to go to Hvar Island with them for the weekend and do some climbing and deep water soloing. they rang some contacts with a 4wd and a boat on the island. Hvar Island is just off the coast of Split so we caught the ferry to the island. When we arrived a shifty character picked us up and took us for a drive along the coast of the Island on an extremely high and narrow dirt road. We encountered a couple of cars we had to get past and this was uber dodgy given the steep drop off. The view was specky though!
While we were there we met two kick ass Hungarian girls called Zofia and Zsuzsanna..
This is the semi cave semi house majangie we stayed in for the night.
The rock climbing on the Island was world class, the DWS isn't that well developed yet but there's tonnes of potential.
To get back to the mainland the next day Jadran's crazy friend picked up in a fancy boat. We stopped in one of the beautiful bays and had watermelon, cheese and beer for dinner.
Jadran liked hanging off the boat, he didn't give crap that we were going 40 miles an hour in the dark.. Hooligan!
Next we stayed with Dida's brother Pere in Soline. Below is Pere, his son Josip and myself.
Ante and Unka have a house next door and came to stay, they brought Marina, Mario and Ivana to stay also. All us cousins had a great time, we went bowling and to the movies to see Harry Potter 3D. My brother Andy and I will marry Harmione one day..
We got the cousins climbing at Marjan.
Josip was first up.
Then Mario the 'Italian man'
Followed by Ivana. She was a natural climber. She was the first one to make it to the top of the cliff much to Mario's disgust.. she cruised up with no trouble.
Marina is a Monkey and she proved it..
Mario finally at the top! Spadge..
Steve and I also finally fulfilled our year dream. If you recall back in our very first blog we made mention that we were off to live the lives of bums for the year. "We hear restaurants throw out all sorts of good expired food in dumpsters. Free food!" Well its true! Steve and I found a full bin of stale bread, my cousins were disgusted as we dug in for a bite!
My cousin Petra (Pere's daughter) was lovely enough to give us a tour around split. This old Europe town has alot to see. Some of the buildings date back to Roman times.
Second from the left is Pere's lovely wife Marija, she really babied Steve and I we loved it!
Petra has two twin sons that like icecream even more than me..
A few times we drove along the coast to a place called Omis. There is specky beaches here, a big castle on a hill and lots of rock climbing. Along the way we saw km's and km's of undeveloped limestone and one big peak that boasts some 850m trad routes!
During our whole Croatia trip we made 3 visits to Bosnia in total. This was 6 border crossings in total and let me tell you the guards were starting to get suspicious. On one occasion we had police search our car. Good thing this didn't happen on our last border crossing as we helped Pere smuggle 40kg of honey from Goliveno to Soline. My uncle Ante keeps alot of bees and he is not afraid of them. He has some sort of agreement with them. We fed the bee's sugar water to last them for the winter and he sacrificed his bee suit for me.. I wasn't going anywhere near them with out a suit!
You gotta stir boiling bee's wax in a barrel..
This is a video I put together of Croatia. I must also credit Steve who also lended a helping hand along the way and entertained my madness as I spent hours trying to develop after effects for the segment title slides. HOURS! and I'll do it again! ARRGG key frame! transition! export!
Please keep in mind that this video was made purely for myself and my family so don't expect a movie of me going to the toilet like the El Cap movie and a bunch of crap targeted to please the general public. There are a few random and climbing segments, plus some trip photos. It took me quite a few hours and this was Steve's comment to me about the whole thing:
"You know, normal people just make a photo slide show of their holidays in power point"
Yep, he's right, there's definitely something wrong with us.. But the videos are worth the effort. It will be good to be able to watch them and look back on everything when we join the real world again someday. We also like to show our family's at home what we are up to.
Croatia and Bosnia Video! Land of the Beric's
At the end of August we were supposed to go to Italy for 2 weeks, but we decided cut out 80% of our Italy time and stayed longer in Croatia. We were truly treated like kings by all of my family. We can't thank them enough and it was lovely meeting all of you! We will be coming back as soon as possible!!