Martha Steszl traveled for “tip” to Bosnia-Herzegovina at the end of September on a trip that was sponsored by the tourism reservation portal ExploringBH. With rather low expectations she set off and came back enthusiastic.
Honestly, before my trip to Bosnia & Herzegovina, I only had a vague idea of the young Republic of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Sarajevo, the capital, has indeed made headlines from time to time: as a former host of the Olympic Winter Games in 1984, less glorious from the scene of the attack on "our" Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand in 1914 and more present in mind for many years as a besieged city during the cruel Balkan war from 1992 to 1995. With low expectations I landed after an hour flight from Vienna to Sarajevo - and was subsequently pleasantly surprised.
A bit like Vienna
In Sarajevo, one feels immediately at home: the facades of houses from the Austro-Hungarian times in the old town have been lovingly restored, the Hotel Europe is now as back then the first building on the square, nostalgic cafe tradition can be found in the "Café Vienna" and "Café of Habsburg . The fact that Austria is today's closest economic partner in the country is indicated by the number of logos on the banks and companies, such as Raiffeisen, Grawe, etc.
The homelike street sign connects the familiar red and white tram to the "bimbim" - a gift from the city of Vienna. Sarajevo has always been considered as a bridge between East and West and a stroll along the pedestrian zone makes this abundantly clear as it is lined with trendy outdoor cafes and boutiques, well-frequented by mostly young people. Walk 15 minutes further and you will find yourself in a bustle of oriental bazaar streets and spicy scented grill bars. Close to the mosque the muezzin calls to prayer, accompanied by the bells of the Orthodox Cathedral further down the road - an experience for all senses.
An unexpected diversity of the small country opens up for day trips in the surrounding area. Only 25km from Sarajevo there are mountains above 2000 meters. Here are the Olympic Winter Games were held in 1984 and today the area for winter sports has been well developed. Beyond these mountains the fierce originality of the Balkans is revealed with virtually untouched nature. Mountains invite for hiking and deep gorges for canoeing.
Lukomir village is a place where you will be transferred back centuries. Lukomir is located in the midst of this magnificent mountain scenery, so remote that not even the war took place here. Water is one of the main natural resources of Bosnia and Herzegovina as numerous rivers not only deliver crystal clear drinking water, but also attract water sports enthusiasts: Una, Tara, Vrbas, and especially the emerald Neretva river offer challenging routes for rafters.
World Heritage & World Religion
Traveling southwest one leaves the mountains behind and enters Herzegovina, where once again a completely different landscape can be seen. Wide fertile plains stretch out to the nearby coast, where the climate is Mediterranean, where not only grain but also citrus fruits, pomegranates and palm trees grow.
The best known and most beautiful city in Herzegovina is Mostar. Because of the historic old town and the famous bridge over the Neretva River, the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. While in other parts of the country tourism is still in its infancy, Mostar has recorded a very good frequency of international visitors. This is in part thanks to the village of Medjugorje, which is located near Mostar and is a magnet for hundreds of thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world.
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