Bitter Sweet Memories: Bosnia
During the autumn of 2017, my husband decided to take me to visit the Balkan, Our itinerary included Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia. While we were in Dubrovnik and saw some day trip getaways, it was just a sudden plan to take a trip to Bosnia & Herzegovinia. And I am so thrilled we did this one, as Kravice and Mostar Bridge are truly hidden gems.
This country has always been a stage of war. 104 years ago in June 1914 Austrian Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in the capital Sarajevo, and thus began the First World War.
Following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the republic proclaimed independence in 1992, which was followed by the Bosnian War, lasting until late 1995. During the 80 s and early 90s because of its geographical region sandwiched between the Serbs attacking the Croats and Croats defending themselves several innocent civilian lives were lost. The war between Croatia and Serbia completely destroyed Bosnia. A country having a monthly income per person of 2000 euros, today has 50 euros monthly per person.
However the country and their people are slowly picking themselves together and rebuilding brick by brick with the help and support of the United Nations and various other nations as well.
Having seen pictures of Kravice and the beautiful Mostar Bridge we decided to do a daytrip.
Our first stop was the beautiful Kravice waterfall. To me this waterfall was prettier than Niagra. The beautiful green colour of the water with reflection of surrounding nature sure was a mesmerizing sight. This place is actually called Niagra of Europe. However in this poverty stricken land food and alcohol is very reasonably priced. People here want others to give them business in order to have some kind of livehood. While you walk towards the waterfall viewing point there are a few shops, which sell home, made jams, honey and locally distilled liqueurs. The price point for some of these items is in the region of 1 Euro to 5 Euros approximately. Tourists do enjoy taking a dip in the calm green waters, when it is summer and water temperature is enjoyable.
The most famous attraction here is the Starri Most. When you see the bridge from the bottom, there is a beautiful arch, many buildings, including a minarat and a whole lot of greenery. The turquoise blue colour of the water is so inviting.
But the water is freezing cold. Here locals to clean the place up have a tradition of jumping off the bridge. All the tourists who are there collectively give them 10 euro per jump. Infact even the people who jump off the bridge, definitely need to shower, in order to regulate their body temperature, before they take the plunge.
The vibrant humanity and the persistent reminders of the terrible war during the mid 1990scombine to make Mostar a tear jerking experience when you leave the place. It is truly emotional even for the guide when they explain to tourists on a daily basis. The bridge was destroyed during the war and has since been rebuilt and open to public in 2004. In 2008, it has been declared a UNESCO world heritage sight.
Prior to the war, Mostar was famous for its Turkish style stone bridge, which was nearly 4 centuries old. The single-pointed arch was a symbol of Muslim society’s existence here. The architecture was an absolute marvel. It also signifies the town’s status as the place where East met West in Europe. In the mid 1990s, Mostar became a poster child of the Bosnian war.
The shops here definitely had a bit of Turkish influence like cobbled streets; they were more like roadside shops and a bazaar like atmosphere. You could definitely get some good bargain buys here. Some of the famous local items could include rugs, pottery and jewelry. There are lovely little riverside cafes where visitors could relax and have some delicious Turkish coffee.
We had a lovely tasty Bosnian lunch which included a couple of drinks along with starters like pita bread, harissa dip, and hummus.and main course dishes included lamb shwarama and shish touk for two people, all this along with Kawah (Turkish coffee) just for 10 Euro which in Croatia would easily be double to triple the cost.
On our way back to Dubrovnik we stopped at Pocetlji; a small Bosnian town on the Herzegovina side. It was a beautiful old mosque on one side and a bell tower on the other. Again here there was lovely Turkish accessories, and a lot of fresh fruit juices and jams. If your fond of fresh rasberries, you can get almost a ½ a kilo for just 1 Euro. Take some back and enjoy your bus ride back to Dubrovnik.
Some key points to be noted while travelling in this region:
- Since borders are close by it is important to carry passports and other documents for verification purposes.
- You may not be able to bargain too much in Croatia or Montenegro but one can certainly bargain in Bosnia but you do feel bad if one overdoes it given the state of affairs and socioeconomic scenario there.
- Walk carefully on the cobbled steps as you approach the bridge, as it can get slippery.
This definitely is a bucket list item when one visits the Balkans