The European adventure continues from Serbia to Bosnia. The previous posts can be found here: Hungary. Budapest; isn’t it everyone’s favourite? and next The European adventure continues through Serbia. Novi Sad & Belgrade, two very different cities.
Once we got out out of Belgrade, the highway took us past mile and acres of flat, fertile farmland panted in strips of crops. No more canola. Now there were fields of winter wheat next to corn, cabbage and other veggies just peeking their heads out of the earth. Occasionally there was a strip of fruit trees or grapes. Many fields had a system of irrigation in place
Houses in small towns seems very practical and utilitarian. Most were small square or plain rectangle single story buildings with the odd 2 story. Rather than facing the road, most faced a side yard. Some were single dwellings with outbuildings behind but many were 3 or 4 homes in a row with a shared driveway and parking area
Crossing the border into Bosnia was an interesting experience. The officer from Serbia came onto the bus and collected passports, brought them in to be stamped and then handed them back to Filip. We drove a bit further to Bosnia and Filip brought the passports into the office, then came back for vaccine certificates. This is the first place that actually asked for them!
Finally on our way I noticed a definite change in scenery. The road become very windy and mountainous. No more flat farmland but gardens and crops planted where ever room could be found. We drove up and down, around and through tunnels and watched some amazing scenery speed by
At one point a police officer waved a “stop police” sign (not that I could read it) The driver pulled over and got out. The officer walked all around the bus. There was much discussion. The driver got into the police car and whatever infraction he supposedly committed was paid for
That in addition to the long border stop made us about 2 hours later than we’d expected.
After settling in to the Hotel Hecco, we walked into town where Filip purchased some burek for us to try before meeting our walking tour guide, Mohammed. So we took a group picture whilst stuffing our faces with tasty burek.
Mohammed took us all over the old city and taught us a lot of the history. From the occupation by the Ottoman Empire, the Austro Hungarians, Assassination of Ferdinand and Sophie that sparked WW1, to Sarajevo’s hosting the 1984 Olympics to the siege of 1992-96. Sarajevo has endured a turbulent past!
At 9 am we met our guide and got in a bus to the airport area where we visited a portion of the tunnel dug by hand by members of the armed forces during the siege by Serbia. Sarajevo citizens were basically trapped for 4 years and the tunnel kept them alive by allowing for transport of goods and forces. NATO sent some support but it wasn’t nearly enough for the 300,000+ people trapped by Serbian snipers in the hills all around the city and a few inside it.
Next he took us up the mountain the bobsled track was on. It was pretty much destroyed during the siege and is now covered in graffiti. While we were there we AGAIN me the mayor! She invited us to the town hall after our tour for coffee.
Our next stop was the fortress where the view of the city is spectacular. Then a Jewish graveyard. Even that was seriously damaged by sniper fire and bombs.
The bus dropped us off at the town hall for our coffee date. The mayor’s assistant met us and invited us in. Then he introduced us to a tour guide. Uh oh. Yep. We ended up with a tour of the town hall and NO COFFEE. It’s a beautiful building with a very sad history. Thousands of books and irreplaceable documents were destroyed. They’re obviously very proud of how they’ve managed to replace it just as it was. BUT. We were hoping for coffee with the mayor.
For dinner Sue and I enjoyed an assortment of burek, a local pastry filled with meat, cheese, spinach, pumpkin or potato. All were pretty good but we decided we liked the spinach best.
On the way to Mostar we participated in a tour of the bunkers called D.O ARK built for president Tito to protect him and 350 of his staff and family during the Cold War in case of nuclear attack. It was pretty fascinating to see this state of the art facility that now mostly an art gallery and never used (thankfully!) for its intended purpose.
We spent the rest of the day exploring Mostar, a beautiful town also devastated by the war in the 90’s. Dinner was a regional dish of sogan dolma which turned out to be onions stuffed with a hamburger mixture and mashed potatoes. Tasty!
The next morning we were up bright and early for our journey to Montenegro
That post can be found here: Montenegro, a tiny country in the Balkans. It’s beautiful! Kotor