5 reasons why you should visit Bosnia in 2018

The holiday season is almost there. Have you not booked your holiday yet? And are you still wondering where to go this summer?

Well, stop searching. I have the most exciting destination for you: Bosnia and Herzegovina!

In this blog post I will give you 5 reasons why you should visit this country in 2018. And one bonus tip, which makes it even more attractive.

Kravica waterfalls - not a daily swimming spot

Kravica waterfalls – not a daily swimming spot

Undiscovered gem

Ask your friends where they are going on holiday and they probably say to France, Spain, Italy, Croatia and Turkey. In other words: to the crowded tourist destinations.

Travel this summer to Bosnia and Herzegovina and discover this undiscovered and uncrowded beautiful country.

Beautiful Bosnia and Herzegovina

Beautiful Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo and Mostar are the two most popular cities, and of course there are a lot of tourists. But Bosnia has so many more to offer.

Go to Bihac, Banja Luka, Jajce, Tuzla, Gorazde or Visegrad. All of these cities have a beautiful surrounding where you can enjoy a quite and enjoyable holiday.

Active holiday

When going to Bosnia, don’t expect to stay a week in an all-in resort. No, expect an active holiday in which you will see and discover a lot.

You can go on a rafting trip, which I would highly recommend. There are multiple places where you can raft. Personally I have been to the Una National Park and to the Neretva Canyon.

These two rafting trips are absolutely amazing. You will go through amazing nature. During the trip there will also be time to have a swim, which is also necessary during the hot summers in Bosnia.

I took the picture below during the Una rafting trip. The waterfall is called Štrbački buk and the highest one is 20 meter high.

Strbacki buk - Una Nationaal Park

Strbacki buk – Una Nationaal Park

Besides rafting you can also go mountain biking or book a zipline descent. A new zipline will be soon opened in Mostar!

But there are more adventurous thing you can do, such as for example riding a quat. And have you heard about canyoning? No? Well then you should take a look at the Scorpio adventure club website.

Ancient sights

In Bosnia and Herzegovina you will find many sights that are centuries old. Here below I will list my 5 favorite ones which you should really visit!

1. Stari Most – Mostar

Of course, this one is easy. Because of the fact I’m born in Mostar the Stari Most is my favorite ancient attraction. This bridge is so much more than only a bridge. It’s a connector, a symbol and a beauty. You should definitely visit this place!

Stari Most - Mostar

Stari Most – Mostar

2. Počitelj

When you are in Mostar my advise is to visit the old town of Počitelj. This ancient town was built during the Ottoman dominion. What makes this place special in my opinion is the view you have when you climb towards one of the lookout points. The picture below explains what I mean.

Welcome to Pocitelj

Welcome to Pocitelj

3. Castle of Srebrenik

In north Bosnia there is a little town called Srebrenik. And it has a castle that is worth your visit. When you arrive at this place you will see the suspension bridge, which is really cool. You walk over it towards the big doors of the castle.

Castle of Srebrenik

Castle of Srebrenik

4. Castle of Maglaj

This is for sure the most undiscovered ancient sight in this list: the castle of Maglaj. And to be honest: I don’t know why.

I really like the castle of Maglaj. Especially because of the view you have over the city. The castle is also well preserved over the years.

Castle of Maglaj

Castle of Maglaj

I’m not sure, but I think there are performances given. In these shows the actors play how people lived many many years ago. This for example is also done at the castle of Stolac (which is also a lovely place!).

5. Old bridge in Konjic

You can combine a visit to Konjic with a rafting trip, a tour through the atomic bunker Tito built and have a nice cup of coffee and some sweet at the astonishing Old Bridge in Konjic.

Old Bridge in Konjic

Old Bridge in Konjic

Road trip

Go by plane to Bosnia and hire a car, or drive with your own car to this amazing country. Plan a tour through the country and stay at a place for 2 or 3 days. This way you will see the most of the country.

Tasting wine in Herzegovina

Tasting wine in Herzegovina

You will experience the hospitality and kindness of the people. And you will also have the opportunity to taste local food and drinks; such as for example slivovic which I highly recommend 😉

Bonus tip

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a not expansive country to visit. Prices for food, drinks and overnight stays are highest in the big cities such as Sarajevo and Mostar.

But compared to other countries, Bosnia is really cheap. You will enjoy it!

So these are 5 reasons why you should visit Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018. I am curious: have you been in Bosnia or are you planning a trip to this lovely country? Tell me below in the comments.

Running the half marathon of Enschede

Right after I had run my first half marathon in Mostar I decided that the next one would be in Enschede. Last year I ran 10 K, so this would be a enjoyable challenge.

I had also a goal. My time in Mostar was amazing, especially for a first half marathon: 1:46:01. So the goal was to run even faster and a time under the 1:45 would be amazing.

In this blog post I will tell you everything about my preparation, about the run and how it went. Let’s go..

Preparation

A colleague of mine is a diehard runner. He has run several marathons and half marathons. His advice to me was to run at least three times a week during my preparation.

Besides my running activities I love to go to the gym. I try to go at least two times a week. Mostly I go three or four times a week.

So I committed to running two times a week. One long distance run during the weekend, and a shorter but faster run during the week. I also tried once a week to train my legs with a legday in the gym. This to gain some extra strength.

Two weeks after the Mostar run I decided to run a little bit further than normally: 25 km. It went ok, but I felt extremely tired after the run.

Injury

When I started to run more than 15 kilometers I started to feel my left hip, especially after the trainings. The pain did go away after 2 or 3 days of rest.

But it did frustrated me a little bit. The week before the half marathon I ran a 25 kilometer run and during the last three kilometers I felt my hip well. I just hoped that it would be less during the half marathon.

The half marathon of Enschede

On Wednesday before the race I did a last training. It was a short 10K run with an amazing pace of 12,5 km/h. Despite the fact that I felt my hip I was ready for the race.

The weather forecast were not so great, because they forecasted 25 degrees which is a little bit too warm to run.

I woke up early that morning and eat some eggs, bread and a banana for breakfast. At 9 o’clock it was time to bike to the centre of Enschede.

Over there I met my friend Jan. He was going to run his first half marathon. Together we walked to the start.

There were special starting boxes where runners who want to run a specific time collected. I choose box 3 because it’s time frame was between 1:30-1:45.

At 10:00 o’clock the race started. There were a lot of attendees. We ran first towards Glanerbrug. During the first couple of kilometers I suffered from stitches in my side. This was probably because I had eaten to much for breakfast.

In Glanerbrug my mother gave us a bottle of AA drink. Because of the weather it was important to drink a lot.

It was already at this point that I was feeling my left hip. Impossible! That’s what I was thinking. I had to run more that 15 kilometers and I already felt it. The stitches in my side also didn’t help.

From Glanerbrug we ran back to Enschede. Somewhere after 8 kilometers the guys who were running a specific time – 1:45 – catched up with me. It was important to keep up with them, so that I could run a great time.

After 11 kilometers I think I came along Manon and Rosalie (wife and daughter of Jan) who gave me a bottle with water. I took a few gulps of water and I poured the rest over myself.

I was really struggling until that point. The support of Manon and Rosalie gave me some extra motivation and energy. I just thought: come on, you can’t give up already.

Before we were going to enter Lonneker the slope of the course increased. This was at the Lonneker mill. I had a little bit of difficulty to keep up with the “time” guys.

But I knew if I just could keep up with these guys until 16/17 kilometers, I had a good chance to run a new record.

We entered Lonneker. There were so many people in Lonneker. They all cheered and clapped which gave me goosebumps. At that point of the race I was running next to the “time” guys. I felt really strong.

From Lonneker my next orientation point was Roombeek. At every waterpoint I took some water and a water sponge. This to keep my body cool.

Despite the heat I hadn’t been bothered by it. There were just two things I was thinking about: keep up this speed and my time would be great, and not to focus to much on my hip because the pain increased.

When entering the centre of Enschede I knew there were only two kilometers left. Approximately one kilometer before the finish my mother and sister where cheering me up.

During the last couple of meters also my buddy Maarten gave me support. Walking towards de finish line I saw the race clock. 1:44 and ticking. I knew I would run under the 1:45 because I started almost 1 minute later than the race clock.

Just 100 meters before the finish it almost went wrong and I got cramp. In a fraction of a second I recovered. Manon was also standing at the point cheering me up.

I made it! I did it again! What a great feeling! Although I felt big pain in my hip, muscles and my knees. But it was worth it.

Looking at my watch it showed an amazing time: 1:44:22. Later the official time was 1:44:11. I never could have imagined that I would run a half marathon with an average pace above 12 km/h. I’m so proud at my achievement.

The question for now: when will I run my first marathon. Keep following my blog for more about that.

My first half marathon – Mostar 2018

Exactly two weeks ago I ran my first Half Marathon. In a special place for me: Mostar, because I’m born in Mostar. In this blogpost I will tell you everything about this race, why I decided to run the Mostar Half Marathon, how I trained, how it went and which time I ran.

So keep reading..

The decision

I’m running for approximately 8 years now. It got inspired by a good friend of mine Jan. He encouraged me to run a race. My first race was the Singelloop in Enschede.

Although I lost (with more than 5 minutes) from a man 23 years older than me, I got motivated to run more often.

During all these years I had periodes in which I run more often, and of course periodes where I didn’t run at all.

Running competitions where there to keep me motivated. That’s why we (Jan and I) run almost every year the 10K in Enschede during the Enschede Marathon.

We talked about how cool and exciting it would be to run a Half Marathon. Every year I told myself: this year I’m going to prepare for a Half Marathon.

But it didn’t happen. Until something changed.

I got motivated by something that happened at the end of 2017. My ex-girlfriend broke up with me and that somehow changed my mind about being fit.

Since then I started to train even more in the gym, and to build some habits that would help me towards my goal. I read a lot about creating habits from the blog by James Clear. This guy is a mastermind on this topic!

I also decided to run my first Half Marathon this year in Sarajevo.

They organise a Half Marathon every year in September, which meant that I would have enough time to prepare myself.

Somewhere end of January I visited the website of the Sarajevo Half Marathon. I saw that the race was held on 16 September. 16 September?!

Noooo! That weekend is my sister’s marriage. My first reaction: shit, what now?

After a couple of seconds I thought, what other place would I like to run? I realized there was one other place even more magical: Mostar!

I visited their website and saw that the competition was held on 24 March of 2018. It was the second edition.

At that moment I realized that I had only two months to prepare myself. And I wasn’t really in shape at that time. But I made a decision: I WILL!

Preparation

That’s when I started calculating. If I would run every weekend 2 kilometers further – starting with a 10 K run – I would make it.

Because I wanted to complete the run within a particular time limit, I realized that I would need some good shoes.

I immediately decide that I needed new running shoes. My running shoes were already a couple of years old. It was time to buy some new fresh ones.

So I went to the Runnersworld Store in Enschede. They are specialized in selling running shoes and equipment.

The shop assistent made an analysis about my running technique. He advised me three different pairs of running shoes.

I decided to buy the Asics Gel-Pursue 4 (http://shop.runnersworld.nl/collectie/hardloopschoenen-heren/alle/asics/15560-gel-pursue-4.html), because I’m running for years on Asics.

Feet injury

And that’s when I started to train. I ran 12 km. It went ok, but my toes hurt. I ran a shorter distance. The week after that I ran 15 km.

But after every run I felt pain in my toes. At first I thought the shoes will stretch. After the 15 km run I realized they wouldn’t stretch.

I felt bad. What now? Going back to the store to change them felt like mission impossible. But I hadn’t any other choice.

So I decided to go back and explain them the situation. That’s what I did.

The shop assistent looked at the shoes and immediately saw that the size was to small. He told me that he would order new ones. For free!

I was flabbergasted. What an amazing service! I felt so happy! Now I knew I could train maximally for the race.

And that’s what I tried. I ran every weekend further and reach 20.4 km two weekend before the race.

The weekend for the race I had a small party on Friday, and I drunk on Saturday evening. And that wasn’t a good idea.

That Sunday I tried to run 21 km. But I just hadn’t the power to do it. I ran 13 km. To be honest, I was not amused about my decision to drink.

On Wednesday I flew to Bosnia. That week I didn’t ran any distance.

The day before the run I almost didn’t eat anything, which was not a good sign. That evening I received a lot of message from friends, wishing me good look.

The one from my buddy Niels gave me just that little bit of power that I needed.

The Mostar Half Marathon

Saturday morning, the 24th of March. I woke up before 7 am. I had a little breakfast, eat a banana and dressed up.

I drove to Mostar and parked my car in the Mepas Mall. That’s where the busses where which brought us to the starting line.

In the bus I met a nice guy from Kosovo called Gazmend. He was 59 years old and running his entire life. His goal was to run 1 hour and 37 min (his time was 1 hour and 32 min!).

As we spoke he encouraged me and said to me that today I would run an amazing time. He encouraged me to try to run it in 1 hour and 45 minutes.

My goal was to run it in 1 hour and 55 minutes. Everything faster would be amazing. But I promised him that I would try and do my best to run faster.

The run started 5 minutes later than scheduled. The first couple of kilometers went good. I ran with the 1:45 guy within sight.

Every 2 km there was a sign. After 8 km I realized that I was almost running 12 km per hour. Which for me is really fast.

Between 12 and 14 km there was a climb with steep slopes, for my feeling 10%. It was tough, but I love these kind of challenges.

During the descent I compensated my average speed. After 16 km (because I missed 14 km sign trying to pose for a photographer – haha) I looked at my watch: 1 hour and 20 minutes and a couple of seconds.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was still running almost 12 km per hour. Because I didn’t believe it I asked a young guy next to me.

He looked at his watch and confirmed what I already knew. Keep up this speed and you will run a good time, he said to me.

Running towards 18 km we run on a bridge next to the Stari Most (Old Bridge). It was such a nice experience running there next to this iconic symbol! It felt magic and gave me strength to keep up running.

In the old part of the town the organization was bad! There were everywhere people walking. Even in one street there was a taxi on the road, so I had to avoid him by using the pavement.

I was angry at that moment. But I realized, I was just 2 km from the finish line. So I had to keep focus.

The last couple of kilometers where tough. I fought to not loose any speed. Running towards the finish and looking to the race clock felt amazing.

Right after I ran over the finish line I stoped my stopwacht. Time: 1 hour 46 minutes and 22 seconds.

That’s when I realized: I DID IT! I RAN MY FIRST HALF MARATHON.

And what an amazing time! Later on the official time came on the website: 1 hour, 46 minutes and 1 second.

I still can’t believe it.

I felt so proud! And still am.

I can definitely recommend you to run next year the Half Marathon of Mostar. The organization needs some improvement, but it’s definitely a nice run.

Now I’m preparing myself for the next one: the Half Marathon of Enschede.

Excited about how it will go. I will keep you update here at my blog.

I’m curious about you: have you ever run a Half Marathon? Or a whole? Tell me about your experience in the comments!