Wonderful time in Sarajevo

Sarajevo Travel Blog

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The Balkans are amazing! Leaving Croatia for Sarajevo, the capitol of Bosnia was like fresh air. One gets the feeling that after every tourist season, the Croatia lies dormant waiting, BUT Sarajevo is in constant movement. “Forgive but never Forget” runs deep. You cannot walk down a street without being reminded the war is less than 20 years ago. Bullet holes mark every building that is older than 1995. It is hard to imagine that Bosnia, in the center of old Yugoslavia and with such diversity could have been the killing fields for Yugoslavian people. Literally within 100m of a mosque- the unofficial religion, is a greek orthodox and a catholic church and a synagogue. In fact there are 3 presidents presiding over the country. The neighborhoods aren’t separated by race, or ethnicity.

 The city is a true melting pot, there is a newer area where people have posh apartments, but generally Sarajevo lies in a small valley with a stream running thru it and the hills are dotted with homes.  The extended family lives together under one roof. So perhaps you can think of 6 or so people of Serbian decent, next to 6 people of Croatian decent next to Bosian (of Turkish decent) and so on and so. There were marriages and when war broke out, things were such that cousins were killing cousins, the same cousins that perhaps picnicked together before the war.  The war will never be forgotten, constant exhibits remind us of the genocide in Srebrenica thru photos.
I like traveling alone, because I get bored of sitting by myself so the necessity to make conversation sometimes opens doors. I was so blessed to be able to attend a conference of university students from all over the world who gathered to express their sympathies for old Yugoslavia. Of course many were of Slavic decent living abroad, their families hightailing it out as the war reached genocide. The conference last day the film Belvedere, a drama about Serbian genocide of Bosnian villages didn’t sit well with many young Serbs and all but 3-4 left on early buses. The movie portrays the “blame game” and this whitewashes too much one sided without recognizing past aggressions and has absolutely no healing value.  The movie did nothing for the purpose of the conference, it was alittle petty to show it.
I think more could be accomplished by focusing on what derides human diversity  to a magnitude of hate. If people insist on a social moral conscious to guide governments then war would be avoided.  All said, it could not have been a better opportunity to see and hear so many interesting views. This is why I came to Eastern Europe, the Balkans in particular to see and hear.   Also went to a dance festival, 7 countries were present, saw these people in folk costume beating drums in the street so I followed them and wholla they invited me to the fest and I got to watch the rehearsals too.  Some of the Greek dancers and I became friends. I will see them in Greece perhaps. Next week is the Sarajevo Film Festival which is suppose to be fantastic but I am running behind so I had to leave. Shared a train car on my way to Serbia with a new friend from the Bosnian Serbian border. He studies in America, visiting his parents.  Such lovely country side, the colors and freshness of each farm. The people are so remarkably friendly. It seems the only reminder of horror are bullet holes that have been blasted into the houses sporadically in each town we pass thru.

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photo by: herman_munster