Thursday, 26 May 2016

Visit Mostar the Street Art Capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina

Sometimes you meet super nice people when travelling. I love to listen and learn from others, a great insight how the rest of the world ticks. Very often people tell me about their bucket list, and one place I hear repeatedly, is the bridge in Mostar. The other day I meet this absolutely lovely couple, and at one point the guy tells me “The Bridge in Mostar is impressive, the rest is, how to best put it, there is nothing to see really, it is all very run down and neglected.”  

Street Art at Staklena Banka aka Sniper Tower aka Glass Bank by several artists

The war ended only in 1995. People make a living somehow, they probably, most certainly love their home country. They didn’t just rebuild that bridge in 2004 to make tourists come and visit. Mostar is a place where real people live, they are not actors employed to entertain day visitors. The victims of the war still work their way through the consequences of it, and there are many bombed out buildings still.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Travel Bosnia-Herzegovina. Mostar. Bridge the Gap

There was a war in this part of the world in Southeastern Europe, it ended fairly recently in 1995, the war is over and the situation is best described as complex. Bosnia-Herzegovina today is surrounded by Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro, there is also a coastline of 20 kilometres. Imagine that the country is sort of a few in one, a Bosniak-Croat Federation and the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska. The mountain river Neretva is 225 km long, and 203 kilometres are in Bosnia and Herzegovina and 22 kilometres are in Croatia. The river runs right through Mostar and divides it in half.

Nationalism is wrong; add religion to it and the disaster is complete. Mostar is an excellent place to understand that once more. "Don't forget" is what someone sprayed on a rather small-ish stone exactly opposite a popular lookout point. Everybody is so engaged in taking photos and selfies in front of that infamous bridge. Do they remember? The Stari Most, in English Old Bridge, sits in the most incredible setting, 21 metres above the fast flowing and blue-green river Neretva. It connects two totally different parts of town. On one side there are mosques and minarets, and the high pitched but soothing sound of the calls for prayer are driven over by the wind to the other side with its churches and crosses.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Travel Croatia. Things you see while you wander through 1700 years of history in Split’s Old Town

What happened in Split is easily described in one sentence. The Roman Emperor Diocletian built a palace as a retirement home, and over the last 1700 years his palace turned into the lively town of Split. Nevertheless, it would be a shame really if you would stop reading at this point.

Split is UNESCO heritage listed for a reason. There are shops, restaurants, bars, museums in the protected old part of town, but its integrity remains fully intact. Locals go on with their day to day lives, and hang out with friends and family together with countless tourists who are there to buy souvenirs, eat and be merry and take photos. There even is street art, and that is a sure sign for a truly alive city. The amount of street art is not as exceptionally massive as in Berlin, London, and Rotterdam or as in the secret street art capital of the world Athens, but it is there.

In Split you walk through roman architecture, gothic parts of town, will see renaissance buildings, and even come across baroque facades all in close proximity to properties in modern brutalist style in the other parts of town. And all that is nicely surrounded by the Adriatic Sea and by Mosor and Kozjak, the two mountains that create the most picturesque backdrop.

Don’t forget this is not about visiting places and ticking them off your list of must-sees. Talk to the locals you meet along the way, try to get a feeling for the place. Imagine how it feels to live in a world heritage site. If you eat in Split, ask yourself how come there are so many Italian and Austrian influences in its cuisine. Read about the Yugoslav Wars, the Croatian War of Independence, the Croat-Bosniak War. The ethnic conflicts ended not so long ago, in 2001. Check your dates, facts and figures and combine them with your own experiences, and create a wonderful story.