what comes to mind when you think of bosnia?
for me, a lot of contradicting things:
..natural beauty vs. war-torn wreckage..
..a new start vs. complicated history..
..kind, friendly people vs. closed-off people..
..christian vs. muslim..
..western europe vs. eastern europe..
..bosnia vs. herzegovina..
clearly we had a lot of interest and a lot to learn about the area!
though we weren’t sure what bosnia & herzegovina would hold in store for us,
i knew we would leave more aware and appreciative of the people here.
this country has seen the most extreme forms of violence and challenging
circumstances, but with endless resilience it has rebuilt and endured.
my former coworker at google lived in bosnia for years during
her time as a fulbright scholar. (yes, she is incredible)
negeen inspired me so much with her stories of the impactful history & complicated society
today. she told me so much about all that this country has to offer, and she is a major
reason that i felt a personal desire to visit. we had already been on hours and hours of
bus rides through croatia, and the thought of one more was almost too much.
our bus ended up being delayed, and a 3 hour bus ride turned into 6 hours on
bumpy roads with sick passengers. by the time we got there we were both
hanging onto our sanity by a thread, and as the bus drove through blocks
of still-destroyed buildings and more graffiti than i’ve ever seen, we both
wondered why we had ventured all the way here. we would soon find out,
and our experience here showed us that bosnia is definitely worth the trek.
we wanted to make it to the capital city of sarajevo where so much of
the history is based, but we didn’t have time to go any more inland.
we visited mostar, which is the main city of the herzegovina region.
we spent two days here and the magic of it quickly found us. it is
an absolutely fascinating city that represents a lot of the contrast
of this country. here, christians and muslims are traditionally
divided – literally – by the river through the city. (muslims on the
east, croats/catholics on the west). the famous bridge separates these two
sides, and on the western side you can see churches and crosses, while on the
eastern side you’ll see mosques and people in muslim dress. today the divisions
are not as severe, but it’s something to be aware of and it’s so interesting.
after recovering from our bumpy bus ride, we ventured out.
we were staying in the center of the main city, not old town..so it was
an interesting walk as we headed to the famous stari most. we saw
a lot of destroyed wartime buildings which are still not repaired, a lot
of trash, rubble, etc. we were still a little bit unsure of where we were.
suddenly we found ourselves in the old town and before i knew
it i was stumbling around glassy-eyed at the magic here.
it felt so different than all of the european towns we’d been in
all summer, and there is truly a special feeling in the air. i was
fascinated by the culture, the land, and the people right away.
places like this are reminders of why we travel…there is nothing
like the feeling of discovering a completely unknown place like this.
the second we saw the famous stari most (old bridge)
we stopped in our tracks. we were there in the early
evening and seeing it in the prettiest light.
it was not just the sight of the bridge that struck us, but the atmosphere.
we truly spent hours and hours here, soaking it in and enjoying.
we met a lot of people, chatted, and even met some fellow mormons who
were from bosnia! there is such a mix of people and culture here.
we crossed the bridge and walked on the eastern side, which is traditionally
muslim.. again – it’s not so divided now, but we did immediately notice
a different in the dress and building style on this side of the river.
i had the camera on the wrong setting here and almost deleted this,
but doesn’t the river almost look like a painting here? ^^
the homes lining the east side of the river were so picturesque ––
made only prettier by the golden light during that time of day.
too many bridge pictures? :) sorry, couldn’t help it!
we lingered at dusk to see the restaurants light up and the river reflect
the sky, wandering the narrow kujundžiluk “gold alley” packed full of
shops and stands. i may have bought a few little trinkets! this really
was the most enchanting scene in a medieval setting with new life
pulsing through it. we took a big deep breath and smiled at the
long, tortuous bus ride that had led us here. it was worth it.
we got to see the quieter side of old town as day trippers dispersed and
evening began. we slowly wandered back into the newer side of the city.
ps – the red bull cliff diving world series was just here in mostar right
before we were – off the bridge! how crazy is that? see it here!!
we grabbed a bite at restaurant prestige right inside of our hotel.
the food is insanely reasonable in bosnia, including at prestige ^^
ps..bosnian dining involves a lot of meat! :)
they know how to do their greek salads down here near greece ^^ :)
we also liked the aerial view of the city from these big windows.
between the brand new, shiny modern buildings and the old
destroyed ones, you could look out and have no idea where you
were … i’ve never seen anything like this city, especially in europe.
visit bosnia long enough to see the golden sunset hour and talk with some of the locals,
and you’ll leave feeling very optimistic about its future. talk about a diamond in the rough.
back on the bus we went after our time in bosnia.
luckily we could dream of the beautiful place we had
experienced as we got ready for more hours of bumpy roads!