You know those times when you have an idea that you think is half crazy but you start to play it out in your mind, and before you know it that idea is really happening? That’s how our day trip to Bosnia went.
On Wednesday night, we looked at the weather forecast in Dubrovnik and realized it was going to rain the whole next day. Now, Dubrovnik is a beautiful city, but the things to do are centered around being outside – the views, the history, the outside cafes. There didn’t seem to be a ton of indoor options for experiencing the city, other than Netflix on a balcony.
So I had this crazy idea… what if we went to Bosnia?
To be honest, I didn’t know much about Bosnia and Herzegovina, but Rick Steves wrote about it in Travel as a Political Act (he also wrote about Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen, which I would have known nothing about otherwise), and described about how the Yugoslav Wars in the early 1990s resulted in heavy bombing across the country, the evidence of which still remains in many places. The reconstruction and history of a recently war-torn country sounded like a good of a plan as any for our rainy day, so off we went!
Kevin did some research and booked us a private walking tour with i-House Mostar. Since it was off-season, many of the tour companies didn’t have much going on, but lucky for us – that meant we got a private tour!
Mostar is a city that makes you take a step back and wonder… is this real? As we walked through the streets, we saw bombed out and bullet-ridden buildings – reconstruction has been random, so a new building might be just next door to a broken shell a of home. During the war, many of the city’s parks were converted to cemeteries, some of which were filled with casualties of a single day’s unrest. The war was more than 20 years ago, but some of these scenes make it feel like it was just yesterday.
However, the culture is alive, and the younger generation doesn’t want to dwell on the destruction left by the war. The best example of the new generation’s defiant optimism is their peace memorial. After a vote, the people decided on a monument that would symbolize a new attitude, something that everyone could agree was awesome, something that looked foward into a bright future instead of dwelling on the recent war. Their pick? Bruce Lee.
Mostar was a gritty, real, and somewhat baffling detour after spending a week in the tourist-driven coastal towns in Croatia, but there’s no other way I would have wanted to spend my rainy day than wandering through those streets.