Anyone listening to the radio or watching television in Bosnia at the beginning of August might have thought they were back in the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1970s: All news broadcasts began with the family name „Schmidt“. This time, however, the first name was not Helmut, but Christian.
The former Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture has recently taken over the not easy office of High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina. This change of office is associated with a number of hopes there.
We are therefore taking the opportunity to present the country, which we recently visited again for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, in a few articles. We do not want to give a historical or political introduction, but rather, with short impressions and many pictures, to whet your appetite for a European country that for many is terra incognita with negative connotations. The focus is on two cities that are historically very important for the country, namely Jaice and Travnik.
Because of Corona: No carefree travel
There is something unreal about traveling abroad in Corona times. Perhaps this is how someone who has been released from prison feels? Finally free again, but at the same time still insecure. And then there is also the feeling of doing something that may not be allowed.
Considering the situation, an astonishing number of people, easily recognisable as tourists, are on their way to the Croatian coast. The queues at the borders are correspondingly long. To which some respond with an impatient concert of horns.
But when it’s your turn, it goes very quickly. The question of whether you have a test or proof that you are vaccinated has obviously replaced the question of whether you have anything to declare.
In Slovenia, heavy rain slows down progress. In Croatia, things move surprisingly quickly.
The only guest in Banja Luka
Near Banja Luka I stayed in a guesthouse with an adjoining restaurant directly on the river Vrbas. I know it from previous trips and it was always very busy. Today I am the only guest. The boss sits down with me for dinner and tells me that this has been going on for months. She had to send her staff home. Now she hopes for the wedding season in autumn.
The next day, I enjoy a hearty breakfast and the view over the Vrbas.
Again, I am the only guest.
I am in no hurry, as the usual continuation of my stay in Bosnia with a straight holiday on the Croatian coast is cancelled this year.
Through the gorge of the Vrbas
A relaxed attitude is also a good thing, as the route through the gorge of the Vrbas demands quite a bit of concentration. To the right are rock walls, to the left the descent is so steep that an airbag would probably be of little help. And then there are the tunnels.
We are in Bosnia, but we also see Croatian flags. Earlier in Banja Luka they were Serbian.
During my previous stays, I had already got used to this fact. Now I notice it again. Obviously, the long Corona break has made me sensitive to details again.
Idyll in Krupa on the Vrbas
Krupa on the Vrbas. How often have I driven through it. Now I take my time and drive down to the small waterfall.
Only a few hundred metres from a busy main road, a Bosnian rural idyll opens up.
The water rushes, the mill clatters
and the custom of love locks on the bridges has also found followers here.