Re-Discovering Bosnia and Herzegovina
Our On-Line friend Chris, comes back to visit Bosnia after 17 years.
Hello and welcome to this edition of our Blog, from Čardačani, in the north of Bosnia and Herzegovina, written by an immigrant (me), as I am neither a tourist or a citizen here.
This past week has seen Tamara and I hosting our guests, Chris and his daughter Hannah, who live in the area around Bad Neustadt in Germany.
We have been hosting small numbers of visitors over the past years in our apartment upstairs, in our house in the village. In this post we wanted to give you a feel for what Chris and Hannah got up to.
A Little Backgrounder to our Guests.
Chris and Hannah are both nurses and live in the north of Bavaria. Chris though, is an American.
Chris first came to this country in 1995 as part of the United States military contingent to the NATO Implementation Force (IFOR). IFOR was an integral part of the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the hostilities of the 1990’s conflict.
During that time he lived in tented accommodation located inside a coal mine!
He came back in 2006, to see the places he hade served when he was based in Tuzla.
Since following our YouTube channel back in 2016, and watching our videos, Chris has been planning to see what had become of the country he had served in, and in his own small way, tried to help.
On arrival in the village we found out that he had no fixed plan on where to go or what to see, (although he had tons of research), but really just wanted to get a feel for what the REAL Bosnia and Herzegovina is like today.
Chris by the way, is a seasoned traveller, and enjoys exploring a country through its culture.
After some 9-10 hours driving through Bavaria, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia, our guests arrived mid afternoon.
After getting to know each other, and catching up on some rest Chris and Hannah wanted to experience local food. Just a little under 2km away we have a small local restaurant, and that’s where they enjoyed their evening meal of traditional Banjalučki Ćevap. Chris was surprised at the “very affordable cost”. Hannah fell in love with ćevap.
🏴 An Englishman in the Balkans 🇧🇦 is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free paid subscriber.
A relaxed walking tour around some of Banja Luka, the nearest city to us, and the second city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although I am not a tour guide I was able to give some local stories behind some of the city’s history. We explored the Fruit and Vegetable Market, main Orthodox Church, the Ferhadija Mosque, Kastel (Fortress) and the side streets, where so much history and many stories hide.
Banja Luka is a super place to explore. We often recommend our friend Danilo, who is a tour guide for Good Host BL. They are reasonably priced, have a super selection of tours, and of course speak English. Please do check them out!
We had lunch “Al Fresco” by the River Vrbas, and looked across at the city’s Kastel (Fortress).
We drove back to the village across the Krčmarice hills, via the Spa area at Slatina to stop off and see a typical wood cabin church.
With the weather turning cold and decidely wet, our guests opted for a shopping day. Chris was amazed, as was Hannah, that Banja Luka had a German equivalent size shopping mall. Hannah actually commented that while some brands were at comparable prices to Germany, there were outlets that were so so much cheaper and of high quality.
On the final Day of their trip, we decided to see as much of the countryside and culture as we could. Regardless of weather
So setting off early, we drove southwards through the old outskirts of Banja luka , and onto the impressive Vrbas Kanjon with its deep ravine and fast water and where both World and European White Water Rafting competitions are held.
Continuing onwards to Krupa na Vrbasu to see the quaint watermills, some of which are still operational. The weather (and the water) didn’t disappoint.
After our break exploring the watermills at Krupa it was on to Jajce (the original capital of Bosnia) via the route alongside the River Vrbas.
We arrived at Jajce in time for Lunch.
I introduced them to Kod Assim, the best traditional restaurant in Jajce.
Chris had done some online research for some things to do and places to see, like here in Jajce, where they got a great view of Bosnia’s ancient capital from the castle ramparts ⬇️.
From Jajce we made our way back home via the Manjača mountians, briefly stopping off on the way to see some more small watermills.
It was a long day, but we got to see some of the diverse countryside this country has to offer, and Chris is keen to come back again. One thing that struck me was Chris’ attitude to slow tourism. He’s a great supporter. He also got introduced to the concept of Čef.
Čef" is a Bosnian word that refers to a feeling of satisfaction or contentment that comes from spending time with loved ones, enjoying good food and drink, and engaging in pleasant conversation and activities. It is a cultural concept that reflects the importance of social connections and community in Bosnian life.
The End of the Trip.
The following morning Chris and Hannah departed Bosnia for Germany. It was really great to get to know them and of course to show them some of my adopted home.
The following morning this arrived on my WhatsApp from Chris.
Just wanted to say thanks again for a great visit.
Just expected to have a place to stay, and got so much more. An amazing experience. Thanks for everything!!!
If you would like to experience a little Čef, and also explore this wonderful country, then why not get in contact with us. We can accommodate up to 5 people and can assure you of a wonderful time.
Our WhatsApp number (text only) is 00387 66 657916.
Don’t forget that you can read back editions of the newsletter, listen to previous podcasts (we have quite an archive now), or catch other content, all this is available on the web interface, just like a regular blog.
Oh, and please share the newsletter with friends, relatives and colleagues using the button below.
Tamara and I appreciate your faithful readership, your comments, and your generosity!
Until our next post.
THANKS SO MUCH ❤️