Don’t just skip Bosnia and Herzegovina
When I travelled to Montenegro I passed Bosnia and Herzegovina on my way back to Croatia. First, I just wanted to stay a night in Mostar, probably the most famous spot of the country. But as I was speaking with other travellers, they convinced me that I absolutely had to go to Sarajevo, the capital, too. I must say, the only thing I regret is, that I couldn’t stay a longer time in this most interesting country as I was already delayed on my way back.
(Sarajevo, maybe not beautiful, but one of the most interesting cities in the world!)
I’m a little embarrassed that I knew so little about the city when I arrived. The more impressed I was as I took part in a walking tour and visited some museums. Sarajevo is the place where World war one was basically started when the heir of the Austro-Hungarian throne Franz-Ferdinand and his wife Sofia were shot (a very interesting and confusing story by the way). Standing on that exact place can give you chills already. The city was struck hard too by the Yugoslavian war and was sieged for 1425 days (1992-1995), the longest siege in modern history. The city is still covered in the scars of the war, a lot of buildings are still destroyed and the “Sarajevo flowers” cover the grounds. It is shocking to hear the stories from the locals, which somehow still got their typical dark humour. They are laughing while telling you how they ran from the snipers to get water or food, it’s unbelievable and they all have my greatest respect for handling their situations in the past and present. I have only been in the city for two nights, but I will return for sure one day to explore more of it. Be sure to visit the Srebrenica Gallery and its exhibition of the war. Be prepare to cry.
What to see: The old town, The street corner where Franz Ferdinand was shot, the tunnel of Life, the Srebrenica Gallery (a cultural and shocking must!), walk the Sniper alley, the town hall, if you have the time take a trip to the abandoned bobsled outside the city with a guide (Don’t go on your own as there are still mines in the ground)
(Mostar in all its beauty on a sunny day)
After this culture shock, my way brought me finally to Mostar, a happier and more touristic place, but also marked by the Yugoslavian war. Again you will see a lot of destroyed and abandoned buildings and shooting holes in the walls wherever you go. But the place is full of tourists, shops and restaurants, so you can really enjoy your stay. The most iconic view in Mostar is the old railway bridge “Stari most” which is nearly 20 meters high.If you are lucky, you will see somebody performing a jump from it. The bridge also divides the city in two sides, one on which Christians live and the other with the Islamic population. Mostar is also a good starting point for some day excursions nearby like Blagaj (Absolutely don’t miss Blagaj, it’s amazing!) and the Kravice waterfalls. You can reach both by bus or join an organised day tour or, like me, drive in your car.
What to see: Stari most, abandoned Sniper building (ask locals, and be sure to go all the way up on the roof), Koski Mehmed Pasa mosque, markets and bazaars, Blagaj monastery, Kravice waterfalls
(A lot of ruins are not going to be rebuilt)
As the country was at war not even 30 years ago, the memories are still branded in the history of the locals. Don’t be too shocked of their dark humour about it. They lived through it and deserve to handle their history the way they want it.
Don’t ever leave the roads in Bosnia! There still a lot of mines buried in the dirt, ready to go off! The roads and walking paths are normally clear and save, but don’t leave them to go to the fields or woods without a guide.
If you are driving with your car, be sure to check if your navigation system works in this country (because apparently mine didn’t and it took me 9 hours instead of 4 to get to Sarajevo!) Maps are rare to find to, so just install maps.me on your phone and download the map in advance (the internet and phone connection is rare too 😉 to find your way. By the way, you need to drive with your lights on all the time and police officers don’t necessarily speak English. I also asked the hostel keeper where it is safe to park the car in Sarajevo because there is still some criminality in the city (like in every bigger city).
And as always: Enjoy this awesome country! Locals rely a lot on tourism to rebuild it from the war, so do yourself a favour and go there 🙂
(Cows are allowed to move freely over the country. There is also a lot of trash on the roads and in the city)
(the corner where Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofia were shot)
(There are a lot of stray kitties and dogs, but locals mostly like them)
(Enjoying a snack with travellers I met 🙂
(Don’t miss Bosnian coffee! It’s the best!)
(holes in walls and houses, caused by shells and snipers)
(Graffiti art in an abandoned Sniper building)
(amazing view from the rooftop of that Sniper building)
(Remains of the war..)
(Stari most at night)
(One of the three Bruce Lee Statutes in the world)
(The Kravice waterfalls)