Day 7 – Rally For Heroes

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2018-08-08 12.06.35

Sarajevo - Zagreb - 402 Km

We were both up all night coughing and sneezing. Without going into too much detail, we were unwell and needed to sleep to face the drive ahead safely. Equally neither of us wanted to cough and splutter through the Memorial Service so elected to reluctantly stay away.  We were without doubt, gutted.

Therefore at this point, Brigadier Simon Hutchings OBE has kindly provided us with the words to mark this moving tribute undertaken by the Rally For Heroes entrants :

‘The unifying theme of every Rally for Heroes, once underway, is a mid-event act of remembrance at a suitably appropriate location. This year’s rally was no exception and thus the plan, in conjunction with the British Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the local municipalities, was to drive into the heart of two iconic locations synonymous with the Balkans Wars of the 90s; Mostar and Sarajevo. The reception we received was overwhelmingly friendly, with the town’s folks genuinely pleased to see us. Although some of the physical scares of war were still evident, the underlying sense we got was one of hope, healing and optimism for the future. The truly reflection moment came at the personal invitation of HMA Edward Ferguson to join him in the grounds of his home on the outskirts of Sarajevo for a service of remembrance at the memorial to the 59 British service personnel who lost their lives serving the cause of peace during, and after, the Balkans war. A fitting tribute indeed.’

We maintained our usual morning rally routine with Lorina preparing breakfast for the road and me loading the car. A few lovely police officers helped with the luggage when our trolley could no longer manage, and the BMW was soon surrounded by at least five young under ten boys asking questions and to hear it run.

I allowed each in turn to sit in the car and the security guard (who turned out to be one of their fathers) proudly photographed them in turn. They told me with no small amount of pride that it was their favourite car and they wanted to own one when they grew up. It was hugely gratifying to see the smiles on their faces.

The convoy set off once more but this time we all needed fuel – topping up sixty high performance cars in one hit is no mean feat, and we devised a system whereby the navigator joined the queue to pay, the driver refuelled, and we pulled off the pump and waited with the police on the slip road.

Once again in our high-speed convoy, we attacked the miles ahead. Due to the fatigue that was setting in one and all became more and more keen to reach the hotel and enjoy the city and some rest.

When we met the Croatian Border, our convoy was handed to a Police Motorcycle outrider to guide us on our first few miles into this new country. We parked in a long snake, filling an entire slip road from the border, whilst our new outrider marvelled at the cavalcade following him and enjoyed keeping us in line and at a safe and positive speed.

After a while the group began to split, with some cars heading for Zabreb City Centre to be put on show, and others to the hotel. Once again we were parked up underground, and in spite of the days of driving that had gone before me not to mention the long and hot stint that day, I simply couldn’t resist taking the M2 up and down the multi-storey listening to its growling burbling exhausts… sad… yes… awesome… absolutely!

We took taxis into Zagreb town centre and broke off into various groups for supper. We were informed by a local that one half of town was full of bars, with the other being full of restaurants. Thanks to the still warm evening we found a fantastic little place with outdoor seating and enjoyed a great meal and conversation.

The town buzzes under the moonlight, and very much enjoys a Café Culture, perfect for people watching and convivial conversations.

Conscious that tomorrow held some incredible mileage for us we reluctantly headed back to the hotel as sleep was a priority however much the adrenalin still pumped.

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