This might be the two glasses of affordable wine and jet lag talking but I really like Bosnia so far. I slept almost a complete night last night so I hope I am well rested for today: a day tour of areas north of Sarajevo.
We start the tour by visiting the Pliva lakes. One of the advantages of visiting off season is that we have the lakes almost completely to ourselves. One disadvantage is that it is chilly and overcast. During the summer people swim and do water sports here. We only have a short stop but it is beautiful for the time we visit.
The highlight of the area is the mill houses on the lake. They were once used for local housing but now they are mostly a tourist attraction.
I also learn about the fun but political Bosnian music group Dubioza Kolektiv. I am really enjoying their tunes while we go from location to location
We then walk the old town of Jajce to the Jajce fortress (Yie-sz to pronounce, I only include this because I had no idea). It is the best preserved fortress from the former Bosnian Kingdom. The Bosnian kingdom lasted about 100 years around 1300’s to 1400’s. We enjoy nice views of the city of Jajce.
We then visit the old Bear Tower, named so because the walls were strong as a bear.
We walk down stairs to the catacombs that were never actually used for their intended purpose – to bury Hrvoje Vukcic Hrvatinic and his family. It was used as a church. Notable is the cross symbol on the lower level accompanied by the moon and the sun. These two symbols often appear in Bosnian history as they tried to mix the former pagan symbols with Christianity symbols.
We walk into the newer part of town and see two memorials to people fallen in the war of Yugoslavia. We have lunch at a local restaurant where I finally try Cevapi. The bread is the most amazing thing I’ve had in a while. I added the cream cheese on the side and it takes like a combination of sour cream and butter. Very rich.
We walk over to the Jajce waterfall. My guides insist this place is even more beautiful in the summer (it is Spring). I don’t see how it can get much better than this.
Our next stop is at Travnik where we visit another fortress, this town is very important in the origins of the Bosnian Kingdom. It is in the museum we learn about all the different eras of Bosnia from prehistoric, to the Ottoman, Austo-Hungarian, Yugoslavia, to present day. One display is traditional dress from the three distinct ethic groups: Bosnians, Serbs and Croats. We learn about an annual scrambled egg festival.
We stop for Bosnian coffee, not unlike Turkish coffee if you are familar. This place near the water has a special where the cofffee comes with a cigarette – smoking can be considered a national pastime here, it is still wildly popular.
We then visit an old restored mosque. It is very nice inside. I forgot my scarf today but luckily they had some to borrow.
After our last stop it is the long ride back to Sarajevo to complete the tour. As always I wish I had more time at all of the stops but the tour is a great introduction to a beautiful country.
For dinner I choose a small but cute restaurant. I didn’t try the Travnik cheese earlier so I want to try that and other local cheeses but knowing I cannot handle all that cheese at once I settle on only the one. It is a feta like cheese. Very salty but good. For my main course I order a squid ink seafood risotto. I am also very happy with my affordable glasses of local wine. It is raining and I am jet lagged so I head to bed after dinner.
It is a nice full long day in Bosnia & Herzegovina .