Our first day in Bosnia… wow this day was hard. Our first stop coming via bus straight from Belgrade, Serbia was an Eastern Bosnian town called Srebrenica. Here, a horrible genocide took place killing thousands of Bosnian Muslims. The genocide here was atrocious and still makes me sick to my stomach to think about. I am happy I got to learn about it though, in hopes of being a part of change and acceptance in this world.
On this day, we went to the Srebrenica memorial cemetery where we truly saw just how many men and boys were unnecessarily murdered during this short period of time. Following, we toured another important memorial site: the Dutch UN base. This is where hundreds of Bosnian Muslims tried to find refuge from the Serbians. Eventually, the occupants of the Dutch UN made them leave the safety of the base, which practically walked hundreds to their death-right into the Serbian’s arms. Today, a very raw and moving memorial/museum is inside the garage of the base that honors the ones that we lost. Although the Bosnians are so humble and try to make everything uplifting, the entire experience was very very heartbreaking. The worst thing for me to recognize was that this all occurred while I was alive and that many people my age (and younger) died mercilessly because of their race and religion.
This day really made me think about how I view the contemporary issues of today.
After the museum, we went into the main “town” portion of Srebrenica. The town is still tattered-strewn with dozens of bullet holes. It is devastating to see how bad of shape some parts of Bosnia is in even all these years later (approx 10 years since the war). But the people we met there were so incredibly nice and are rebuilding their lives piece by piece as they try to come to terms with their losses.
Families come back to repair their houses in these war torn towns, but do not move back because their lives there are gone forever.
Moral of my experience… learn as much as you can so you can change the world. Listen. Take action. Reflect. Mourn. and then rebuild.
A day that was completely opposite in feel….filled with Turkish delights (addicted) and the traditional Bosnian dish called Burek. Unfortunately because of my food poisoning on the way to Croatia I don’t think I could ever stomach eating Burek again, but at the time it was fun to try the traditional dish!
After enjoying downtown Sarajevo, we adventured to the site where the 1984 Winter Olympic Games were. Something cool about Sarajevo is that it is literally a canyon. There is the river and then two steep hills surrounding it and it is absolutely gorgeous. This day, we experienced the great mountains around the heart of the city. We walked the entire Bobsled track that is now covered in graffiti and is left unused. It was very cool to be there as I have never seen anything Olympic related in my life but it was sad to see how such joy was held in Bosnia only a few years before the war began.
After our adventure in the mountains some dedicated tourists and I enjoyed a walking tour with Armenia whom was a very sweet Bosnian woman. She survived the war by spending time in France with her family. But afterward she did humanitarian work for Catholic services (as a Muslim). She told us about all her favorite places to get sweets in the old town of Sarajevo and we had a lovely time hearing her stories.
She also told us about some of the sad parts of modern life in Sarajevo. The youth are being influenced by the stresses of their parents, who can’t find jobs in a hard economy, so they pick-pocket and are violent toward each other. We were walking down the street and saw one young teen boy roundhouse kick another in the face. A fight broke out and then disbanded. It was really crazy.
After this, my friends and I did A LOT of shopping. I bought 5 scarves, a couple pounds of turkish delights, and other ~necessities~.
That night, we all went out to dinner at Dzenita. It was very much meat based, so I didn’t eat too much. But the conversation with friends new & old was for the books.
After dinner, the SLAs and the group went to a traditional Bosnian Hookah bar. I am not a smoker, but I think that doing something like this is part of the cultural masterpiece. The Hookah was a little disappointing and not too notable. We tried the flavors apple mint, peach, and cherry.
The cool part was that we learned to blow rings but we all felt like death afterward.
Woke up, got ready and ate some more Pita and then grabbed some Bosnian coffee-which is THE BEST. It is different because you get rich black coffee (with grounds) and then you add your favorite form of sugar and drink it black. It’s phenomenal and so flavorful. My favorite part of this particular shop is that it comes with a side of rose flavored turkish delight, which I genuinely cannot get enough of.
After coffee, we left early at 8:30am for our greater tour of Bosnia!!!
We enjoyed snapchats new face swap feature to entertain ourselves before our car narcolepsy set in and we all passed out.
This was a BIG day & it was spectacular. I saw so many cool places I could only dream of.
WHICH you can read about in my next post….
Baci Baci e Grazie Mille!