Morka Gora - Church - 7

Bajina Basta – Serbia – Information


AUGUST 2019:



OVERVIEW:

PLEASE NOTE: The currency in Serbia is the Republic of Serbia Dinar / the RSD (I will refer to them as S$s). At the time of writing, US$1 = S$105.

We have just spent 4 nights in the famous Ski Resort town of Zlatibor.Zlatibor - Walk - 11We now head north to the small town of Bajina Basta …


GETTING THERE:

We need to get to the Bus Station in the centre of Zlatibor.Zlatibor - Bus Station

I purchased my ticket to Bajina Basta the previous day to guarantee a seat. The ticket costs S$400. The bus leaves at 2:15pm. You pay an extra S$50 for each piece of stowed luggage. The bus was a typical ‘short distance’ bus. The seats were comfortable and they reclined. This time, I only stowed my suitcase and took my backpack on the bus with me.Zlatibor - Bus to Bajina Basta SeatingThis bus by-passes Uzice and goes direct to Bajina Basta en route to northern Serbia. We arrived at the Bajina Basta Bus Station at 3:30pm.Bajina Basta - Bus Station

From there, it was an easy 600 metre walk to my hotel.


ABOUT:

Bajina Basta is located in western Serbia on the banks of the Drina River that borders Bosnia Herzegovina.Bajina Basta Location Map

The town sits on the north-eastern edge of the Tara National Park. In the 2011 census, the population was 9,148.

In 1834, Bajina Bašta was established on the remains of the old Turkish community of Pljeskovo. By the end of the 19th century (in accordance with the Serbian-Turkish agreement) the local Muslims moved across the Drina River into Bosnia. In English, the name Bajina Bašta literally means “Baja’s Garden”.Bajina Basta - Walk - Stream

It is just a normal Serbian town that, itself, holds little of interest for tourists. Bajina Basta is best used as a base to explore the surrounding attractions.


PHOTO GALLERY:

It is a small town.Bajina Basta Town Map

We start walking down the High Street.Bajina Basta - Walk - Main Street

We find an area with cafes on the sidewalks.Bajina Basta - Walk - Main Street Cafes

And a small park.Bajina Basta - Walk - Park

The surrounding streets are pleasant.Bajina Basta - Walk - Back Street Bajina Basta - Walk - Side Street Bajina Basta - Walk - Street

IN SUMMARY:

A typical, small, non-touristic Serbian town.


ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS:

AUGUST:

This is what GRANDPAckers can expect to find within 1km of the City Centre at short notice in early August:

BOOKING.COM:

Bajina Basta Booking

HOTELS.COM:

Bajina Basta Hotels

PLEASE NOTE: HOTELS usually display prices INCLUSIVE of TAXES. But many search sites (like HOTELS) don’t provide a ‘private bathroom’ filter, so be careful with some of the cheap hotels and make sure that you read the room details. HOTELS does not do well in the Serbian marketplace.

AIRBnB / HOLIDAY RENTALS:

A good alternative is an AirBnB or Holiday Home:

Bajina Basta AirBnB

PLEASE NOTE: Other sites (such as Homeaway, FlipKey and VRBO are also worth a look).

IN SUMMARY:

GRANDPAckers can find accommodation in the Town Centre within our price range. AirBnB is your best bet.


MY ACCOMMODATION:

I used BOOKING.COM to book a Twin Room (single occupancy) at the Konak B&B. The price was quoted in EURO. I paid EURO12 / US$15 per night for 4 nights.Bajina Basta - Konak - Frontage

There are 10 rooms available on the 1st floor.Bajina Basta - Konak - Rooms

My Twin Room was the smallest.Bajina Basta - Konak - Room Entry

The room came with a wardrobe and a TV with 28 local channels (none in English).Bajina Basta - Konak - Room

The bed was comfortable.Bajina Basta - Konak - Bed

The bathroom was small but adequate.Bajina Basta - Konak - Bathroom

The shower had lots of hot water and a good water flow.Bajina Basta - Konak - Toilet

The in-room wifi was good and fast enough to stream videos in low resolution. Downstairs was a restobar that had the atmosphere of an old English Pub.Bajina Basta - Konak - Restobar

A simple Breakfast (like a Lempinja) is available at an extra (yet reasonable) cost.Bajina Basta - Konak - Breakfast

IN SUMMARY:

A good location only 600 metres from the Bus Station and only 100 metres away from the cheap restobars in the town centre. Very friendly, helpful, and hospitable hosts.


WHERE TO STAY:

You can stay anywhere.

But, for the best experience, get yourself within walking distance of the Brace Nincica – Kneza Milana Obrenovica road junction.


ACCOMMODATION SEARCH:

Have a look yourself:


Booking.com

Hotels Logo Big


EAT & DRINK:

There are several supermarkets around town. This makes a ‘Self Catering’ option viable.

CHEAP EATS:

There a several local cafes serving traditional meals at proper Serbian prices. Something like 10 mince koftas in a toasted bun with a 500ml beer will set you back S$370.Bajina Basta - Cafe - Tradtional Meal RSD370

In the centre of town you will find a small local restaurant that does simple traditional Serbian meals. Here is their menu. These are the real prices that you pay when you get away from the tourist towns.Bajina Basta - Local Cafe - Meals MenuBajina Basta - Local Cafe - Drinks Menu Bajina Basta - Local Cafe - Frontage

I had a meal (S$320) with a 500ml beer (S$120).Bajina Basta - Cafe Meal RSD440

On my way to the Raca Monastery (see, below), I stopped off at the Rojal Restaurant for Breakfast. They had the best Komplet Leminja that I have had to date … it had bacon inside for only S$150! Yum. The 500ml beer was S$120.Bajina Basta - Rojal - Lampinja RSD150

DRINK:

A local 500ml beer at a supermarket will cost about S$60. A 2L about S$155-S$200. Expect to pay about S$130 for a local 500ml beer in ‘typical’ cafe.

IN SUMMARY:

Eating out here is almost half of the price of eating out in Zlatibor and more like the typical prices that you can find in Nis.

Breakfast is not normally included in Serbia. Expect to pay an average of S$250 each for a cheap local Breakfast with tea / coffee.

Expect to pay an average of S$250 for a cheap Lunch with fruit drink.

Expect to pay an average of S$450 for a cheap Dinner with a Fruit Juice / 500ml Beer.

Obviously, if you had Self Catering accommodation, you could bring in groceries and eat more cheaply … but, for comparative purposes, this is not GRANDPAcking Standard.


TRANSPORT:

You can walk everywhere around town.Raca Monastery - 15

The Bus Station services many local and long distance routes.


MONEY:

Their are banks and ATMs in town.


INTERNET / WIFI:

Don’t trust your hotel to provide good wifi in our GRANDPAcking price range.Vesigrad - 6

TELENOR:

Their are 3 main providers in Serbia: MTS, Telenor, and VIP. I chose the 2nd biggest: Telenor.

MTS and VIP offer 1 week tourist voice and data prepaid packages (with free SIMcard) for about S$300.

I need data: I don’t use voice nor SMS. Telenor offer a 15 day prepaid data only package including SIMcard with 10GB for S$545 (about US$5). This was perfect for me and my 2 week stay in Serbia.


HEALTH & SAFETY:

The first thing that you notice is the number of smokers; there is still a large % of smokers here. Not a surprise when you can get a pack of cigarettes for only S$260.Bajina Basta - Walk - Canal

There is no reason to feel unsafe. As always, exercise normal levels of caution … don’t make yourself an obvious target.


WHEN TO GO

Bajina Bašta’s climate is moderate continental with four distinct seasons. Summers are warm and pleasant with cool nights. Winters are sunny, with snow levels high enough for widespread winter sports.Bajina Basta Climate Chart

The summer is short with the best months being July and August. We are here early August.


WHAT TO DO:

The area around Bajina Bašta has significant historical heritage. In the village of Pilica, there are Roman archeological remains. Other small archeological sites lie in the Kremna valley (43 tombstones), Mokra Gora (38), PerućacRastište and Dub.Sargan 8 - 5 - Train Cornering

The oldest historical findings in this area date from the Neolithic period (5,000 year B.C.) – remains of these communities are found near Višesava.

 In the village of Dub (10 km away) there is a wooden church built in 1792, a variety of ornaments and icons, and a gate from the 17th century.

RACA MONASTERY:

Rača monastery (7 km southwest of town) is considered the most significant historical treasure of the area. It was built by King Dragutin (1276–1282).Raca Monastery Location Map

My host (Mikta) at the Konak B&B found me a pushbike for the day (free). I started my trip at the Orthodox Church in town.Bajina Basta - Church OutsideBajina Basta - Church Inside

And, then, the country road out to the monastery.Raca Monastery - 1 - Farm Raca Monastery - 2 - Valley

It was not long before I got my first glimpse of the monastery.Raca Monastery - 3

Nowadays, the monastery is home to recovering alcoholics and drug users.Raca Monastery - 4

You can stop for a deserved drink of water at the fountain.Raca Monastery - 13

Or go up into the hills for a panoramic view.Raca Monastery - 17

The monastery houses a treasury and a library containing over 1,200 books and manuscripts.Raca Monastery - 5

The monastery church walls are covered in paintings and iconostasis.Raca Monastery - 6 Raca Monastery - 7 Raca Monastery - 8 Raca Monastery - 10

Sorry about so many photos of the inside. I hope that it does not spoil your own trip there. It is just that they were so nice that I didn’t know which ones to leave out!Raca Monastery - 12

I decided to go up the mountain and come home via Raca Town. I warn you … this is not for the fainthearted.Raca Monastery - 19 - Field Raca Monastery - 20 - Road

I got about 500 metres from Raca Town but, alas, I couldn’t find the right road … they all turned into farm tracks. So, I doubled back and took the same route home.

WALK TO THE DRIVA RIVER ROCK HOUSE:

About 1.5 kms up route 170 from the town centre you will find the famous Driva River House.Bajina Basta - Drina River House

BOAT TRIP TO VESIGRAD:

You have to book this tour at least 2 days in advance. I used Tara Tours. The 1-way price is S$1,900. The return price is S$2,500. You need to make your own way to the meeting spot east side of the hydrodam. The first bus from Bajina Basta to Perucac (about 12 kms) is 6:10am; this is the only bus that gets you there in time to catch the boat. Boat registration isn’t until 8:45am. This gives you 2 hours to kill in Perucac before you sail. I was lucky, some people in the Konak B&B were also going that day … so, they gave me a lift.

Perucac Location Map

As you board, Immigration stamp your passport. You can choose from a downstairs deck in the shade.Vesigrad Boat - Bottom Deck

Or the upstairs open deck in the sun. The top deck is popular and you may be too late to find a table … but people don’t mind if you ask to share one. I went to the top deck.Vesigrad Boat - Top Deck

The boat trip is 3:30 hrs each way. The boat does not serve food. You are advised to bring your own snacks. You are not allowed to bring your own drinks on board. You must buy drinks from the boat bar.Vesigrad Boat - Menu 1 Vesigrad Boat - Menu 2

As you cruise down the Drina River to Vesigrad you pass through the famous gorge.Drina River Cruise - 1 Drina River Cruise - 2 Drina River Cruise - 3 Drina River Cruise - 4 Drina River Cruise - 6 Drina River Cruise - 7

You land at Vesigrad at about 1pm. Again, you clear immigration and get your passport stamped for entry into Bosnia. Vesigrad is famous for its 16th Century bridge.Vesigrad - 5 Vesigrad - 7

Where you alight the boat has been smartened up for tourists … and, this area is worth seeing.Vesigrad - 1 Vesigrad - 2 Vesigrad - 3 Vesigrad - 4 Vesigrad - 10 Vesigrad - 11

You are expected to have lunch here. But, don’t worry if you don’t have any Bosnian money. They all take Serbian Dinars … even the supermarket. Given the fact that this is a bit of a tourist trap, prices are quite reasonable. A 500ml beer costs S$130.Vesigrad - 9

We were re-boarding the boat at 3:15pm. We retraced our way back along the Drina to Perucac. We landed about 6:45pm.Drina River Cruise - 8 Drina River Cruise - 9 Drina River Cruise - 10 Drina River Cruise - 11 Drina River Cruise - 12 Drina River Cruise - 14

We passed the swimming area and headed for our cars.Drina River Cruise - 15

If you don’t have your own transport then, again, you have a problem. You have missed the 6pm bus back to Bajina Basta and the next (and last) bus doesn’t leave until after 9pm. My friends went for a meal. I hitch-hiked. The 6th car that passed me stopped. I was back in Bajina Basta by 7:15pm.

IN SUMMARY:

The round trip takes 10 hours. It is pleasant and relaxing. Vesigrad was pleasant too. Personally, I thought that 7 hours on the boat was too long … perhaps, we could have cruised back to Perucac faster so that people could connect with the 6pm bus?


GRANDPAcking COSTS:

Bajina Basta is not a long term holiday destination. You will probably only want to stay a few days so that you can do some day trips. For that reason, I have not bothered to provide the usual breakdown of monthly costs.


CONCLUSION:

Bajina Basta, itself, offers little for a tourist. You come here to use it as cheap ‘base’ to get to surrounding attractions.Raca Monastery - 16

Yes, Zlatibor is nicer … but Bajina Basta is more authentic … and, it is just as close to the attractions in the Tara National Park (such as Mokra Gora and the Sargan 8 Train). The advantage of Bajina Basta is that you can also easily do the day boat trip to Vesigrad.


RETIREMENT:

Could you afford to retire here on a GRANDPAcking budget? YES.

TTFN


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