Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Bosanska Krajina

We arrived into Bosnia and Herzegovina, into the area/province called Bosanska Krajina, after a day exploring the Plitvice Lakes National Park of Croatia which is just beside the border.  After passing through Bihac, which is the biggest city in this area, we drove through part of the Una National Park (without realising until later). We were hoping to stop somewhere, however the road here did not allow any pulling over at all and all stops were on the opposing side of the road, which would have been impossible to get to at short notice with someone right behind, so sadly we do not have any pictures of this lovely  area. The part we drove through was an amazing gorge (found out afterwards that there are very famous waterfalls nearby), which with the sun setting on it brought out a variety of interesting colours. The river Una, is fantastic, similar blue and greens to that of the Plitvice lakes, however in a river. The river was also very clean and would have been excellent for rafting (which is possible in the summer).

We stayed the night in the small town of Otoka. Here we had an incredible night sleep in such peace. Even though we knew that most of Bosnia was Muslim (part of their Ottoman heritage) we were still surprised to see 4 mosques in this village (we stayed literally across the road from one), mostly because of the size of the town. As we arrived the valley was echoing with the different mosques calling people to prayer, which was very interesting.

The history of this town was very remarkable (and scary), everywhere there were bullet holes in the houses, and some even had larger gaps from what I imagine was mini bombs (some were bombed). In the past the village was attacked by the Serbians during the Yugoslavian wars, and the only thing that kept the village from being captured was the river Una being such a large obstacle. Such a very different lifestyle and way to grow up, it is just impossible to try and imagine it, even when faced with the evidence.

On the way out of the country we passed through some cute little villages and really enjoyed the scenery. We highly recommend people consider Bosnia and Herzegovina as a tourist destination. As yet it is not over run with people, even in the summer, which means obviously a much nicer experience. And it truly has a lot of history, culture and nature to offer. Bosnians (at least in our experience) are incredibly hospitable. We had a amazing stay here and had never felt so welcome and apparently this welcome, is a cultural trait. It was very sad to leave this country and head on.

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