Friday, September 6, 2013

Traveling Summer Parts 9 & 10: Sarajevo and Mostar, Bosnia

The points of the triangle stand for the three ethnic groups in Bosnia: Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs. The white stars represent Europe and they are infinite in number (hence the two on the ends not being full stars).

Bosnia was, without a doubt, my favourite country of the trip I think. It is hard to top Sarajevo. While everywhere was filled with history, there is something about the recent history of Sarajevo that is so appealing. I remember reading a book about a girl during the siege, Zlata's Diary when I was younger and have always been curious about Sarajevo since then (clearly I was an impressionable child as I joined Peace Corps because my 4th grade classroom was part of Worldwise Schools).

We arrived in Sarajevo after a 6 hour bus ride where their was no AC (in fact I think the heat was actually on) and a loud Bosnian teenager complaining about Americans in front of us (apparently we have "raped the British language and should be punished for our crime"). It was a long ride...

Our time in Sarajevo was spent mostly learning about the siege, something quite fascinating. I barely remember it as I was so young when it was going on, but since finding out I was going to be in Macedonia for two years, I wanted to learn more and that we did! Sarajevo is one of my favourite cities. It is full of so much history, mixing of cultures, and just has this magic to it.

We went on our standard free walking tour that was lead by a guy in his late twenties/early thirties who remembers the war and what it was like. On the tour we saw many remnants of the war still visible today.
World War II Memorial
The Eternal Flame
The writing on the memorial- done in the Slavic Tri-colors
One of Sarajevo's Roses- after the war, the mortar shell holes were filled in with red to be a reminder of the war.
Plaque memorializing those who died at this spot.
The market where the bloody Markale Massacres took place on February 5, 1994 and August 28, 1995, killing 108 people and wounding over 200 people.
The market is still used today as the city's main market.
A memorial dedicated to those who died in the market.
Hole left by a mortar shell in the market.
There are still buildings like these all over Sarajevo- damaged from the siege.
Church just off the main square.
Another mortar shell hole- this one left unfilled so it can be seen.
A famous sight in Sarajevo- the giant chess board, where we were told you can find old men at all hours of the day and night.
The Latin Bridge where many thing Franz Ferdinand was killed.
He was actually killed here, however.
Inside the mosque courtyard.
The main government building.
One of the many cemeteries in Sarajevo.
On our second full day in Sarajevo, we decided we wanted to learn more about the war and go explore the Tunnel Museum. The museum is a bit hard to get out to on your own (mostly because the entrance is someone's backyard), so we opted to find a tour that would take us out there and explain to us a bit more about the war. Our tour guide was a soldier during the war. He took us not only to the Tunnel Museum, but up into the mountains so we could see what land was occupied by Serbian forces and what was held by the Bosniaks. This was definitely one of the best tours of the trip.
This is the house that people originally entered the tunnel through.
The house the tunnel most recently was entered through.
Inside the tunnel- you can walk through a very small section of it today, but it is enough to know you don't want to walk through any more. The entrance here was one of the tallest points of the tunnel and I was hunched over a lot.
Entrance to the tunnel.
Our guide showing us some of the weaponry that was used during the war.
This was a typical Bosniak soldier uniform- jeans and canvas shoes.
View of Sarajevo from up on a mountain that was controlled by the Serbians.
An old building that was taken over by Serbian forces.
Inside the building.
We got to walk along the 1984 Olympic Bobsled track that was used as a trench by the Serbians.
About 100 meters before this point (off the track) is where we ran into two teenagers engaging in some very unsafe sex- the area off the bobsled track is still filled with active landmines. Our guide told us not to set foot off the track for any reason.
Walking on the track was one of my favourite parts of the trip.
One of the holes the Serbs made in the track to shoot down into the city through.
Sadly, this is what happens to old Olympic Bobsled tracks in war torn countries.
Sarajevska Brewery
From Sarajevo, we headed down to Mostar for the day. Mostar is known for its bridge and that bridge causes thousands of tourists to flock there each year. We figured since we were in the area, we should join the crowd. The hotel we stayed at was way out in the middle of nowhere, however, it had the nicest owner ever!
When you leave the bus station, this is your view. No complaints here!
Just like in Plitvice, the water is this amazing blue-green colour.
Old building we passed while walking to Old Town.
First view of the bridge (partially hidden).
The view from on the bridge.

It really is a pretty bridge and pretty little old town.
View from the other side of the bridge.
Another picture from the top of the bridge.
There is another, smaller version, of the bridge just around the corner. This one is called Crooked Bridge.
Would I go back to Bosnia? Without a doubt, YES!

1 comment:

  1. Really good site, thank you so much for your time in writing the posts.

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