Eastern Europe 2005 – a memorable travel journey!

Mostar

Mostar

In 2005, my good friend Karina Muller and I travelled  through Croatia, Montegro and Serbia.  It was one of my best travel experiences yet. I remember the bus ride to Kotor was amazing and the coastline was simply stunning.  I also remember that it was on this trip that I developed a real taste for seafood. I have been hooked on seafood (no pun intended) ever since.

Some of my best experiences on this trip was visiting Mostar. I remember there was still a lot of war torn damage to buildings but in the 10 years since the Bosnian War, it had certainly come a long way. We met a really nice guy called Kamel who was our guide. Kamel survived the war but I distinctly remember he was one of the most positive people I had ever met. I recall a conversation where he said that for nearly two years he lived in a basement and the only time he went outside was to get water. He showed us a scar that was caused by the explosion of a grenade and  he said that his father was sent to a concentration camp. But his attitude now is that life must go on and has had the opportunity to travel when the war ceased and taught himself English.

After Mostar we arrived by train to Sarajevo. The train ride was only three hours long but it was very scenic.  So many large buildings bear witness to the past.  There was red wax on the roads and footpaths which indicated where mortar shells had landed, taking the lives of innocent people. The Sarajevon’s had used the red wax to fill potholes as a symbol of the lives lost. It was not unusual to see men with just one leg hobbling around with a stick.

We drove down a dual carriageway road which has been nicknamed Sniper Alley because there was a multi-story block of flats from which the Serbs used to shoot anyone who came into their sights heading towards the main city area. The block of flats still stands as a silent sentinel to the past. It is completely gutted and nobody lives there now.

We then went to the Kolar family home which was the site of a tunnel built under the runway at the airport.  Sarajevo was under siege for four years and this tunnel was the only thing that ensured the survival of the people still living there. It was literally the life support for the population. The tunnel provided the means to provide water, electricity, food, etc as well as refreshing the troops and arms. The family which owns the home no longer lives there, however they have created a museum of the tunnel and they are there to explain the tunnel’s importance. Father and son both fought in the war.

After Sarajevo, Karina and I arrived in Belgrade. We only spent two days in Belgrade and then we got the overnight train to Budapest, Hungary. We had to catch a bus to Novi Sad which was an hour outside Belgrade to get the train. Getting around in Serbia was quite difficult at this stage because not many people spoke English and we did try and speak the Serb-Croat language but very badly. “Govorite li engleski” which means do you speak English. We got many laughs!

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~ by Shae on September 1, 2009.

One Response to “Eastern Europe 2005 – a memorable travel journey!”

  1. This is a excellent write up Shae, superbly dipicted! I am of Croatian background and despite growing up up in Australia I still got to embrace many cultral traditions here during my youth such as making wine, growing produce (living off the land) and having big feast gatherings for religious events. I was fortunate enough to go to Croatia 20 years ago with my grandmother hence reading this has brought back so many wonderful memories. I even have a picture that is very similar to the one you have taken. Unlike you I have always liked seafood but in Croatia it was the most succulent I have ever tasted perhaps that’s got something to do with the beautiful clear waters. I also went canoeing, swimming, boating and spent some time on farms whilst over there and can also recall the peaches being the size of rockmelons. Just having one in a room would make it smell so fragrant and the taste again was divine. My grandmother did talk of the war often but at the time I was a bit too young to understand not to mention her croatian was very fast especially when expressing with such great emotion as she did.

    Heres a few more words for you..

    Dovi jan ya which means good bye

    Kukosi which means how are you?

    Volim Vino… this one is a must to remember is means I love wine!

    Well done. Maree

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