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Published: August 31st 2012
Our trip to Bosnia almost turned into a non trip at the border when an official expressed his disimay at our lack of 'official' looking vehicle ownership documents and didn't understand how we managed to gt all the way from the UK to Bosnia without these. We tried explaining that we had only bought the van recently and the complete V5 hadn't arrived in time before we left but we had the back section. He seemed to think that a slip of green paper was a joke despite it having matching car details on. After several trips to his superior he said we would have to buy a Green card to enter, (we'd expected to have to anyway as our vehichle insurance didn't cover Bosnia). After being directed to a random office somewhere we found a man who could help us, the problem was we didn't have any Bosnian money as we were still at the border. Luckily he offered to run us into town to get some after very helpfully filling out our 3 day temporary insurance which enabled us to get our passports back from the border officiers and move BFG. Not sure how good a piece of paper
with no contact numbers in case of an emergency would have been if we'd had an accident, luckily we didn't though!
Once accross the border we were astounded by the beauty of the Bosnian mountains, ravines, limestone cliffs and clear rushing rivers. We had an enjoyable, but very windy drive to Sarajevo with me leaning out of the window taking pictures as we went along. We arrived at Sarajevo in the early evening and couldn't find anywhere that didn't look quite a bit dodgy to pull up for the night. No signs to a campsite, no detailed maps and a satnav that didn't recognise Bosnia, we settled for a pub carpark. At least it wasn't next to lots of tower blocks and felt reasonably safe and was better than our previous idea of climbing a very narrow winding road up one side of the city and nearly getting stuck!
The next day we found some parking near the old city and cycled in to arrange a tour to the Tunnel museum, a lifeline during the siege of Sarajevo during the 90s. We wondered around the old market streets and saw lots of local copper handicrafters and silk painters.
It was very picturesque and not surprisingly touristy. We found the place where Frnaz Ferdinand was assignated which led to the start of WWI and a eternal peace flame memorial for those killed in WWII. It is also hard to not to notice anywhere in Sarajevo the number of bullet holes covered the buildings and lots of abandoned shells of buildings on the outskirts, a constant remainder of the awful war.
The tunnel tour near the airport was fascinating. We were able to walk through the 25 m of tunnel still standing. The airport was controlled by UN peacekeepers during the conflict so was relatively safe from bombings, which enabled brave people to trek to the outskirts to get supplies sent in through the tunnel from outside of the city. The history of the conflict within the former Yugoslavia is very complicated and confusing, more divided along ethnic lines than religious it seemed and caused by Milosevic's reign of Yugoslavia, where he as a Serb attempted to make them the lead race above Croats and Bosnians leading to ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia and then civil war in many places. There is still a lot of bad
feeling between the countries, demonstrated by no one wanting to change our Serbian money once we left. It was upsetting that our Bosnian tour guide predicted there would be another war in the next 10 years and that life in Sarajevo was boring without war as it was in their blood. So sad that the younger generation is still passing down this message instead of one of peace and unity between the ethnicities like in the past.
Mostar, despite being an incredibly beautiful place, famous for it's bridge, also shared a sad story of conflict.
"In 1993, as Bosnia and Herzegovina
was torn by civil war after declaring independence from Yugoslavia, Croats and Muslims began a nine-month-long struggle for control of Mostar. Bosnian Croats relentlessly bombarded the eastern, Muslim section of the city, reducing most of it to ruins. Since a cease-fire in 1994, attempts to restore civic unity to Mostar have proceeded fitfully."
We liked it here, beautiful winding cobbled streets, the famous divers off the bridge, the cafes and relaxed atmosphere but were sad to see the town is still divided into a muslim side and a christain side.
Sorry for the history lesson, over and
Lorze and Andy xxx
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