It’s my birthday! And what better way to celebrate than with a road trip to a medieval village, killer waterfalls and a castle on a hill? Almost none, I tell you. Jajce (pronounced ya-eat-say), about a two-hour drive northwest of Sarajevo, was the perfect escape for a low-key weekend away.
This little town has witnessed just about every major event in Bosnia’s history – from the crowning of the last King of Bosnia in the 15th century, to hosting the second convention of the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia in 1943 (a coalition led by Tito to unite the various ethnic and religious groups of the Balkans against the Axis powers), to border wars between the Muslim-Croat and Serbian armies in the 1990s. Jajce is famous for its waterfalls, converging Pliva and Vrbas rivers, and quirky watermills dating back centuries (many of which have been restored and are currently working).
I have a sneaking suspicion Jajce also turns into quite the party town during warmer months – most of the cafes in Old Town seem to be biding their time until they can throw open their patio doors and turn up the dance music until early morning. The town also boasts an impressive Pliva Lake resort, with little boats, picnic areas, and lounge chairs currently piled with snow and waiting for summer to kick in.
But since we arrived in the dead of winter, most everything was closed (we’re sensing a Bosnian trend…). The museums and fort attractions were dark, and top restaurants padlocked. But we were able to find a charming, brick-lined café called Charlie, providing top-notch macchiatos mid-afternoon and beers after dinner, and our hotel (built over a Turkish bath) served up the best Bosnian Pot and Chevapi dinner we’ve had to date.
We were also able to get in a hike around the fort, as well as a drive up the Vrbus River gorge (can’t wait to see it without the cloud cover!). The weekend was a lovely getaway, and we’ll be returning to explore this city when the snow melts.