This weekend, those of us not participating in the two week Srebrenica program took a trip to the coast. We visited Neum, the only coastal town of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and took a day trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia (a city that has a rich history but was extremely exciting to us since it is the filming site of King’s Landing in Game of Thrones!) It was GORGEOUS.
In being there, we noticed many similarities and differences between the coast and Sarajevo. On our trip, we encountered the same remarkable hospitality that we have here in Sarajevo. The owner of the hostel where we stayed in Neum, Milan Babić, was one of the kindest and most generous people I have ever met. He was constantly giving us rides around town and even on an occasion when he couldn’t, he arranged for his guests to drive us to the bus station. He joked that, “when guests stay here more than 7 days, they become my employees.”
One stark contrast, however, was the fact that as our bus got further and further from Sarajevo, the war damage became significantly less noticeable. I wouldn’t say that I no longer notice its presence in Sarajevo, but I suppose it has become more engrained in what I consider to be the norm around the city. Another difference that I noticed, mainly in Dubrovnik, was the presence of tourists. English was everywhere. It was almost unnerving. I have gotten used to the white noise of Bosnian around me where only a few words stick out. Having several people speaking English around me was overwhelming- something I never considered.
It was a great weekend and provided insight into a different part of the country and the region. I even got a Croatian stamp in my passport! Albeit, the stamp was given to us when we re-entered Bosnia, but I have stopped trying to understand everything. It’s more enjoyable that way.