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This little fortress town was our first stop in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the way to Sarajevo. You can climb up a large hill to a tower that sits on top. On the way up the hill is a restored mosque, but the tower itself is basically in ruins. It is still accessible, though, and you can even go up in the tower if you aren’t afraid of narrow, steep stairs and dirt! The view from the outer part of the tower to the river Neretva below is worth the climb.

View of the fortress from the path on the hill

Downhill view of the mosque and the Neretva river below

About the level of the tower, but over to the side, is a small café where you can get drinks. I think it is basically someone’s house, but there was a cute little garden with a view and it is a perfect spot for a cold drink after the climb up the hill. The cold options were all juices made right there from local fruits, so we chose the pomegranate juice. This was apparently made from the pomegranates that grow wild all over these hills; they are much smaller than the ones you see in the stores back home. The juice itself was quite purple, and had an interesting taste. Our hostess also served us pastries flavored with local lavender and sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar, which were delicious. Overall, Počitelj was a really cute little place to stop and I recommend taking about an hour to check it out if you are ever on a road trip through the region.

Inside the outer walls of the fortress (between the outer walls and the tower)

Fresh pomegranate juice with lavender pastries. Delicious!

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My very first visit to Germany was a day trip to Passau, a university town about 1.5 hours from Linz where three rivers—the Danube, Inn, and Ilz—converge. It’s a really lovely town with many pedestrian streets and lots of biergartens (beer gardens), of course. Walking around the town, one had the strange and slightly disorienting feeling of being surrounded by water, since you saw a river almost every time you turned a corner.

View of the Danube in Passau, Germany

There are some interesting historical sights in the town, but I was a little tired of playing tourist after two weeks of doing so. Instead, I went with a group to several beer gardens, including the brewery and attached beer garden of the local beer we drank at lunch. I’m not a big fan of German and Czech beers; I don’t like pilsner and I far prefer Belgian beers in general, but the Austrians and Germans do make a dark version of their wheat beers that is quite good. It’s not a true dark beer, being a dark wheat, and it’s a lot less sweet than any Belgian dark, but it’s definitely worth trying if you spend time in this region.

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