The way back

September 24, 2009 at 4:42 pm Leave a comment

Sarajevo
As one of our Bosnian friends said the tourist attraction in Sarajevo [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarajevo] is the war. We might not agree completely but certainly the traces of the conflict are still there. In our impression, Sarajevo is certainly a place worth defending. The city was founded as a market and rest area for the Ottoman traders crossing Bosnia, and it still feels like an oasis, between surprisingly untainted-looking mountains. The old town has islamic architectural elements, following the course of the Miljacka river  [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miljacka]
The valley widens and an Austro-Hungaric and then a Socialist neighborhood appear.
Sarajevo is full of places you have the impression of having visited before. Most of these places were the theatre of horrible massacres during the siege, such as the market or the parliament building. Power of the media.
To be short and to spare you all the poetic justice, Sarajevo is also the place where we ate the best Balkan food in the whole region, and where we found some of the nicest people we’ve met in our trip.
Mostar
Again a fucked up place. Mostar had an economy and a society before the war, but the conflict took all this away. Mostar has been shelled by the Yugoslav national army, by the Serbs, by the Croats and by the Bosniaks alike. The result is a place full of bulletholes with a town centre (and a famous bridge) totally rebuilt with the help of EU, UN and of the former warring states. The main income of Mostar now comes from tourism and this has fractured the social fabric even more. Nonetheless the rebuilt centre is still a jewel of architecture and the surroundings are marvellous.
One of these marvellous places is the Darvish monastery at the source of the river Buna. The river is carsic and exits a huge natural cave on the mouth of which a delectable Sufi Tekke, Vrelo Bune, [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vrelo_Bune] has been built.
Leaving Mostar
Right after mostar you enter the Croatian influence area of Bosnia, the partition of Bosnia in two confederated sovereign entities after the war has left the ethnic croats without a fatherland, and it shows. The place is replete with chequered flags and Croatian nationalist slogans even today.
In order to reach Dubrovnik (which we never did anyway) you have to exit Bosnia, enter Croatia and travel on the coast southwards, until you reach Neum. Neum [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neum] is the only kilometre of coast that Bosnia owns, it has two customs stations on either side bordering croatia and it’s a sprawling mass of concrete reaching down to the sea.
Split
Split is split between two Splits. One is the city centre, built by Romans as the Palace of Diocletianus, conquered by the Venetians and turned into a commercial port and then held by the Croats against an overwhelming Ottoman empire pushing from inland. The centre is layered and it’s an architectural folly. It still shows its Roman heritage very well but intermingled with Austro-Hungarian, Venetian and Slavic architectural elements. The Palace is most beautiful when the tourists are asleep.
The other Split is a Socialist metropolis, one of many, mad for its Haiduk football team but surrounded by splendid waters and islands and beaches. There we took our last seasonal bath before boarding….
The ferry
The ship to Ancona was full of italian pilgrims, on the way back from the marian sanctuary of Međugorje [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medugorje], Bosnia. Still unrecognised by the catholic church, Međugorje is the place where the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared to a group of six teenagers. Of these six three are still claiming to experience marian visitations every day. Međugorje is visited every year by hundreds of thousands of catholic believers.
The ferry was full of catholic imagery, it had a chapel with the sacred idol of our Lady of Međugorje constantly guarded by two praying nuns. It also had almost no seats, so we had to sleep on the floor, in between the praying pilgrims.

Sarajevo

Sarajevo landscape

As one of our Bosnian friends said the tourist attraction in Sarajevo is the war. We might not agree completely but certainly the traces of the conflict are still there. In our impression, Sarajevo is certainly a place worth defending. The city was founded as a market and rest area for the Ottoman traders crossing Bosnia, and it still feels like an oasis, between surprisingly untainted-looking mountains. The old town has islamic architectural elements, following the course of the Miljacka river.

Sarajevo - valley

The valley widens and an Austro-Hungaric and then a Socialist neighborhood appear.

Sarajevo landscape

Sarajevo is full of places you have the impression of having visited before. Most of these places were the theatre of horrible massacres during the siege, such as the market or the parliament building. Power of the media.

A Sarajevo invisible man sitting

Sarajevo breakfast

To be short and to spare you all the poetic justice, Sarajevo is also the place where we ate the best Balkan food in the whole region, and where we found some of the nicest people we’ve met in our trip.

Hotel Sarajevo

Mostar

Mostar

Mostar

Again a fucked up place. Mostar had an economy and a society before the war, but the conflict took all this away. Mostar has been shelled by the Yugoslav national army, by the Serbs, by the Croats and by the Bosniaks alike.

Stari most

Mostar bazaar

The result is a place full of bulletholes with a town centre (and a famous bridge) totally rebuilt with the help of EU, UN and of the former warring states. The main income of Mostar now comes from tourism and this has fractured the social fabric even more. Nonetheless the rebuilt centre is still a jewel of architecture and the surroundings are marvellous.

Vrelo Bune

One of these marvellous places is the Darvish monastery at the source of the river Buna. The river is carsic and exits a huge natural cave on the mouth of which a delectable Sufi Tekke, Vrelo Bune, has been built.

Sufi Tekke

Sufi Tekke

Leaving Mostar

Croatian Seaside

Right after mostar you enter the Croatian influence area of Bosnia, the partition of Bosnia in two confederated sovereign entities after the war has left the ethnic croats without a fatherland, and it shows. The place is replete with chequered flags and Croatian nationalist slogans even today.

In order to reach Dubrovnik (which we never did anyway) you have to exit Bosnia, enter Croatia and travel on the coast southwards, until you reach Neum. Neum is the only kilometre of coast that Bosnia owns, it has two customs stations on either side bordering croatia and it’s a sprawling mass of concrete reaching down to the sea.

Split

Split harbour

Split is split between two Splits. One is the city centre, built by Romans as the Palace of Diocletianus, conquered by the Venetians and turned into a commercial port and then held by the Croats against an overwhelming Ottoman empire pushing from inland. The centre is layered and it’s an architectural folly. It still shows its Roman heritage very well but intermingled with Austro-Hungarian, Venetian and Slavic architectural elements. The Palace is most beautiful when the tourists are asleep.

The other Split is a Socialist metropolis, one of many, mad for its Haiduk football team but surrounded by splendid waters and islands and beaches. There we took our last seasonal bath before boarding….

The ferry

The ship to Ancona was full of italian pilgrims, on the way back from the marian sanctuary of Međugorje, Bosnia. Still unrecognised by the catholic church, Međugorje is the place where the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared to a group of six teenagers. Of these six three are still claiming to experience marian visitations every day. Međugorje is visited every year by hundreds of thousands of catholic believers.

Ferryboat

The ferry was full of catholic imagery, it had a chapel with the sacred idol of our Lady of Međugorje constantly guarded by two praying nuns. It also had almost no seats, so we had to sleep on the floor, in between the praying pilgrims.

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