Unlike Mostar, to walk around Sarajevo you aren’t immediately greeted with reminders of the war. You see banks, bakeries, shops just like any other high street, but if you look down occasionally at the ground you will see splotches of red paint, symbolising where blood was shed during the war. It’s a unique city as within a small space in town there is a Christian Cathedral, Jewish Synagogue and Muslim Mosque.
We met up with a lovely local while there who not only showed us a brilliant bar but also took us to the top of the hill and showed us this fantastic view over the city. You can see the cemetery in the picture, all the gravestones are the same size, shape and colour, I asked why this was and he said it was the Muslim style of headstone, representing that everyone is equal. I think that is a very wonderful representation of belief and have a lot of respect for this.
There was also an exhibition about Srebrenica; a city that the UN named as a safe city, where thousands of refugees flooded to after the Serbs took over their town. Despite being named a ‘safe city’, Srebrenica was invaded by the Serbs and many of the Bosnian Muslim refugees were killed in a genocide.
The exhibition was interesting and tragic – it also showed photos of the ongoing conflict in Syria. It seemed like it could be one continuous story from looking at the photographs in Srebrenica to photographs of Syria, the only difference is the quality in pictures. The blood-shed, terror and sadness was shown in photographs from both occasions. I came out wondering why I’m in Bosnia and backpacking instead of doing something to help the war in Syria.
Bosnia was filled with many moments which made me sad; I reflected upon my life and conflicts that the world has seen. However, it’s safe to say we sank into life in Sarajevo easily and struggled to leave when the time came. We got a bargain deal on a hostel, the food and drink were almost as cheap as Albania and we met a great group of people.
On our last night there we were in a gorgeous tea house drinking a local drink of hot milk and cinnamon, I remember thinking to myself, do we really need to go back to Croatia, can’t we just stay here for another week before we have to be in Budapest? I really did want to stay but we wanted to visit Croatia and Slovenia (to make sure we visited every ex-Yugoslav country and get the full picture). I’m glad we did go back, but the point is, it was easy to be there, the locals were friendly, the town was lovely and easy to navigate around, something about it was very homely.
I loved Bosnia and Hercegovina. I’d love to go back to Sarajevo, I could eat buryek for breakfast every day, drink raspberry raki (I like the sweet one, not too strong) and live in a beautiful, welcoming city. If you’re ever in that part of the world I would recommend a visit, even if you can’t go to Sarajevo, visit Mostar and see the wonderful Stari Most bridge, and don’t forget the past the people have been through for this wonderful present.