Aug 19th, 20th 2010
I used to read about the wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) in the news when I was a kid. I don’t remember much about them but when I decided to do my RTW trip, I had to visit BiH. I thought I’d be walking on the streets of a scarred city, full of buildings still shattered from the war, on frozen in time. I thought I would see a barren, empty landscape with grey, depressing skies. Instead, I was greeted by some of the most beautiful landscape in Europe. Mountains, lush greenery, beautiful bodies of water. I guess this is why Sarajevo was chosen in 1984 to host the Winter Olympics.
Imagine a bowl. The inside of the bowl consists of hillsides. At the bottom of the bowl is Sarajevo. Much of whatever was damaged has been reconstructed but whatever is government-owned has not been repaired. This is because the presidency of BiH is swapped every 8 months between 3 political parties (Serbs, Croatians, and Bosnians). So when one party decides to repair something, before things can be done, power changes hands and priorities are rearranged. The National Library is sitting there in scaffolding and looks like an abandoned building.
(National Library, pride of Bosnia)
(Mortar damage on a church)
(Famous drinking fountain. If you drank water from it, one of the beliefs was that you’ll meet a girl. I drank two bottles of it, no luck)
I stayed at a hostel that’s family-owned and located along the steps that were used by everyone to get up to the mountains for the ’84 Winter Olympics. Now, those steps are beaten to death. The son of the guy running the hostel took us around for a walking tour of the city, including a place to eat some good burek (5 kinds!) and drink some traditional Bosnian beverages. We saw the exact spot where Franz Ferdinand got shot, triggering WW1.
(The famous steps from the ’84 Winter Olympics)
(Franz Ferdinand was shot here)