It was a curious thing exploring Sarajevo, being Bosnia’s capital, there is a certain charm, plus, it’s definite mix of cultures makes the place very distinct. You could be walking the wide avenues of a European city, then be squished in by the old Turkish bazaar with its overflowing stalls, plentiful Turkish coffee and many a hearty beard.
The other aspect of this is, it’s quite obvious the place has been through hard times, which puts it lightly. Bullet holes still riddle the facades of buildings, some more scarred that others. I went there excited by the prospect of seeing where Gavrello Princep changed the world with two bullets. I left with a profoundly saddened understanding of one it’s outcomes.
The siege of Sarajevo was something I can remember brief news reports about, being 9 when it all kicked off. I remained ignorant of its impact. It was quite humbling to see, in the many museums looking to records its events, the reality of the suffering of that war. It’s disappointing to know with a certainty, that though we have these monuments to a horrific past, they will not serve to stop the next. Concentration camps were used by both sides in this war, and are still used today in others. The one thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.
So yes, I pushed on to my Workaway with the rafting place. To my disappointment, it was not as I hoped for. Rather it was a place where they had made a managerial decision to utilise volunteers as the brunt of their workforce. They expected volunteers to “come to terms with” the fact that 45-50+ hours of work in a week would be the reality. The normal being 25. Suffice to say I did not take long to come to different terms and pack up my gear and head to another beautiful yet equally troubled Bosnian city, Mostar.
I managed to score myself an entire house in the Muslim side of the river, maybe 200m away from the famous ‘not so old bridge’. That was a nice change. See I’m not really one for staying in hostels. A couple bad experiences will do that to you. The accomodation at the rafting place was also 11 of us volunteers packed in like sardines into a turret type building. With the added luxury of one bathroom between us all. Still the ‘us’ at that place was truly great. A really great eclectic bunch of people, sharing the same misery, and becoming fast friends in the process. That was the only hard decision I had to make when deciding to leave. I would also be leaving a bloody good bunch of volunteers. Ouch well, let’s hope I can replicate that again soon.
So Mostar was darn pretty. The river that divided the city is a thing of beauty. Clear deep waters flowing quickly under a lot of bridges, with cliffs, rapids, parks and the beautiful ‘not so old bridge’ to cap it off.
Once again though, it’s recent horrible past was clearly visible in the many bullet holes, bigger tank round holes, and empty shells of once marvellous buildings. Also the ‘not so old bridge’, got its name in that conflict, for some persistent concentrated tank rounds finally brought it down as a means of moving the frontline back over the river. The conflict that took place in Mostar was fought on both sides of the river. The Croatians on one side and the Bosnians on the other. Again the sad realities of fighting a war over ones ethnicity and thus ones religion by apparent default, was clearly visible.
Both places I stayed in had bullet holes riddling their walls.
Still though, Mostar is a really beautiful place. It has smaller rivers with smaller bridges but are not less pretty. I found my favourite craft beer place so far, which overlooked one of these bridges. I’ve realised my routine of visiting cities is to have a quick explore on the first day, then a mixture of further exploration taking in museums, coffee and beer, not necessarily in that order and often on numerous occasions throughout the day.
I’m currently in Split, Croatia. It’s a nice place that goes back to the Roman Emperor Diocletian of the 3rd century. He built a massive walled villa for his retirement, where he apparently had a marvellous time growing cabbages. Anyways, the walled off part of town was built up and torn down, added to, as the typical procedure for a city on the banks of the Mediterranean. So now, the central old town is a rabbit warren of lane ways, squares, markets, museums and galleries; cafes, restaurants and every other shop you may need. The great thing is I’m here for 4 nights. I’ve still got one more full day ahead of me. Yesterday consisted of, coffee, museum, long walk to a nice beach, then beer and dinner. Today, has consisted of coffee, museum, another coffee and soon a rugby 7’s tournament.
Yeah, rugby, in Croatia.
I was equally as surprised. I saw the posts and thought “noooo, that’s not a rugby field is it!” But yes, it was. And there was even a team training. So naturally I went in and checked it out. Found the entrance next to a bar called the “rugby bar”, and I found out after chatting to a couple of their coaches that they have a 7’s tournament today. So yeah. I’m about to go enjoy that.
Ahead of me, I managed to arrange another work away place 40min south of Prague Czech Republic. I told them I’d start on the 30th of May, which means I have about 9 days to get there.
I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty darn excited by this. My plan so far is, a night in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital. Then I’ll push on to Budapest in Hungary for 4 nights, then 3 nights in Bratislava, Slovakia, which happens to be a mere hour bus ride from Vienna, Austria, so a day trip there to see some galleries will be in order.
The only concern I have with this is making sure I stick to my budget, other wise I’ll have to stay longer at the Workaway to make up for it. What I’ve found is the life as a tourist haemorrhages money, life doing Workaway, costs very little. I spent maybe 50cents in the 10 days I was in the Serbian Workaway. That was gold.
Anyways, I best make a move to go and see how the sevens rugby in Croatia is played. From what I saw of their training, pretty good.
We shall see.