Last month when I was planning my graduation cum Euro trip my dad suggested we visit my uncle working in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnia for short). There was a thought. Bosnia? Didn’t cross my mind but I certainly wasn’t going to pass that chance up. All I knew was that it was previously war torn and that it’s a beautiful country. I had no idea what to expect, but I was excited.
Upon arrival I was enchanted. We were greeted by my excited uncle who then told us that our first stop was a drive all the way up to the former Winter Olympics mountain for some fine Bosnian cuisine. To be honest everything I saw and experienced was a delight. But nothing was more enchanting than the view. Bosnia is a beautiful mountainous country, a sight for sore eyes, a never-ending valley.
We stayed there for 5 days which according to my uncle was too short a trip because there is so much to see and travelling from one place to another took up quite a chunk of our time. We managed to visit a few important and popular places of interests though – Sarajevo (the capital), Travnik (former capital of Ottoman State of Bosnia), Konjic (just super duper beautiful!), Mostar (home to world heritage site bridge), Jablanica (for some good Bosnia meat) etc etc…seemed enough no?
To compensate such a short trip, the view throughout was breathtaking!
Ice cream with a view! On the world heritage site bridge in Mostar.
The food was good too. Being a predominantly Muslim country, finding halal food was not at all a problem so that was a relief. Like the Arabs, Bosnians are big meat eaters and I was totally cool with that till…I was being asked to finish a whole dish. I love meat and all but…there’s only so much my small asian stomach can take! *gulps*
Food and views aside, there was much to learn about this previously war torn country. My uncle has been in Bosnia since the end of the war days and he’s got much to say about post-war development and how life goes on despite a staggering economy. Much of the areas in the country has been recovered but you still see the effects of the war e.g buildings with holes from gun shots, dilapidated abandoned buildings and plenty of commemorative death signs. Below is a picture of that as well as a fire burning with a slogan that says “As long as the fire keeps burning, we will always be reminded of what happened”. Bosnia’s history, geography and politics are complex to understand and that is reflected in the demographics of the people in the country. But the least one can do is to try and understand.
FunFact: Did you know that Croatia was supposed to form part of Bosnia? (There’s another country I must visit!)
Here’s a view of Stari Grad or Old Town of Sarajevo from my uncle’s house. This is basically what Sarajevo looks like. Houses built closely together on hills with narrow winding roads which were built ideally for horse carriages. The houses here have been built to such a simple manner but it’s this combined taste of historical simplicity that makes acquainting oneself with a Bosnian neighbourhood interesting.
I could write so much more about my trip but here’s a brief write up for starters. Bosnia is such beautiful country and despite what the country has been through recently the abundance of natural beauty really makes up for lack of everything else. I got to learn a little bit about the people, how they think, the culture, how religion is practiced, and just how life is lived in general. Truly has been a blessed opportunity to experience this.
Travelling is one’s chance to discover so you should shape the experience you desire. With that I realised that while it’s ideal to have fun and snap away, one must not take for granted the abundance of knowledge presented at hand – to learn about different civilizations and the history that has shaped it today. Here’s a quote I stumbled upon reading the travels section of Harpers Bazaar; it struck me and has inspired me since.
“20 years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain