It was my birthday this weekend. As a big night out, lots of dancing, staying out until 4am and then sleeping the hangover off until noon was out of the question, we settled for a family trip to a local town where we had never been before. Rumour had it that there was an old medieval fort there, but we couldn't find out much about it so we set off more in hope than expectation. It was quite a tight fit, some friends came along for the ride, which meant one in the boot with the dog, one squeezed between 2 toddlers whilst I, as birthday girl, travelled in luxury in the front.
Being Bosnia there were no signs for the fort. We arrived in Srebrenik and drove around for a while. 'Up' said everyone we asked. 'Up where?' we wondered and before deciding to drive along the only road we could see that went up. And up we went. And up, and up and up. Not knowing the word for 'Fort' in Bosnian did hamper us somewhat in our efforts to ask the way, but we asked everyone we could see and they all waved up. So up we went. And then, suddenly, almost mocking us for not being able to see it, there it was.
It was splendid. A proper medieval fort clinging onto a rocky outcrop, connected to the rest of the world by a rickety wooden bridge. It would not take much imagination to see rampaging warriors trying to storm the castle and being rebuffed by brave defenders. The little boys were thrilled. The big boys were very thrilled. Even the girls thought it was pretty cool. We climbed up walls, through tunnels and into nooks and crannies. The dog raced around down steep cliffs and bravely barked at a few snails. There was no one else there.
The National Trust it was not. The only other person there was an old boy who watched us with some bemusement as the rag tag crew (including dog) crossed the bridge, firing arrows as we went. He let us in (no charge for entrance) and left us to get on with it. Not a shop, cafe or piece of information about the fort in sight. This being Bosnia there was also no form of health and safety. Drops down sheer cliffs were not fenced off. Crumbling walls were not fenced off. Some of the defences looked distinctly rickety. It was nerve wracking at times but we had a wonderful afternoon.
As we attempted to squeeze ourselves back into the car, we found a bit of information about the place in English. The English was a literal translation of the Bosnian which makes for some difficult reading but I did sympathise with the fort which was described as middle-aged. As I creep towards 40, I'm starting to understand how it feels.
An additional thought for those interested in expat blogs: The Expat Mums Blog forum is hosting an expat Mums blogging carnival so pop over there for tales of cultural confusion and battles with bureaucracy.