the balkans in 7 days: bosnia and herzegovina

short hiatus on this recap thread- but i’m back!

bosnia and herzegovina was one of the more historically rich areas that we visited in our week around the balkans. we spent time in the cities of mostar and sarajevo getting to see countless sights, taking tours, wandering around downtown, trying way too many types of cakes (pictured, of course), and indulging the moment.

the first night we arrived in mostar really late. we slept at the hotel then made the bus ride to our first meeting of the day. afterwards we got to see the Old Bridge. the view from the bridge is incredible. of course, i have pictures. 🙂

we next made our way to sarajevo where we spent more time. the night of our arrival we were given a tour by easily the BEST tour guide i’ve ever had on any occassion. his name is enes, and he laid out the history of the city for us in such an incredible way and in a way that is different from most tour guides you would come across. he showed us countless areas of historical importance (i.e. the place where archduke franz ferdinand and his wife sophia were fatally shot, the eternal flame, etc.) and gave us an incredibly deep context to associate with these places. he pointed out things as well that i would not have picked up on otherwise. we saw the bullet holes in the side of buildings, evidence of the siege of sarajevo that only happened in the last 30 years. this raw visual of a city that had undergone such hardships of war was incredibly moving and eye-opening. to think people had lived, and continue to live today, in an area where the history is very much still plastered on the walls is a really indescribable feeling. enes offered us such a unique view of the city and opened our minds up in such a way to its history – i would absolutely recommend him if you ever find yourself in sarajevo and wanting a tour! i even included a picture of him. 🙂

we spent the rest of that night getting dinner, getting more gelato (of course), and exploring the old town. after meetings the next day, we did much of the same. we had the awesome opportunity to meet with he office of the high representative and at the OSCE offices!

the next day, we visited the memorial site for the victims of the 1995 srebrenica-potocari genocide. this was an event that i had no been previously aware of, but was one that deeply moved me as we walked through the memorial, learning the history of this awful event in history. if you’re not familiar with this event either, i would encourage you to do a bit of research and familiarize yourself with the genocide. while it is distressing to read about, knowledge is power and it is better to familiarize ourselves with these events in order to prevent them from happening again. another added wonder was that our tour guide at this memorial site was a survivor of the genocide. as i mentioned, it only happened in 1995, and what really struck me as our guide was talking was that he was not much older than my parents, and not even as old as my grandparents. to think such an atrocity had happened within their lifetimes was such a gut-wrenching thought.

bosnia and herzegovina was a state rich in historical context. this area sticks with me more for the atrocities we observed there, but still the beautiful way the city has been rebuilt. though a beautiful city stands still in sarajevo to this day, the hardships it has faced are very plain to observe if you look. even as much as the eternal flame, which serves as a memorial to the military and civilian victims of the second world war, serves as a constant reminder of a dark past, but a bright future for the region.

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