Here are a few personal observations about Bosnia. Breaking my usual trend, I’m posting these prior to my departure because most of them were noted in or on the way to Mostar…
- It’s remarkably Muslim. Towering minarets define the skyline of virtually every city I passed, several times a day broadcasting those beautiful prayers that I haven’t heard since Cairo. Mostar’s main tourist district sells almost exclusively Turkish paraphernalia, from hookahs to fezzes, and even the nightclubs blast music with a distinctly Arabic feel. The vast majority of middle-aged and elderly woman wear traditional Muslim clothing. There’s no doubt that it’s quite a different culture than Croatia, just a few kilometers away.
- This seems to apply more to the Balkan region in general, but I didn’t get around to noting it until the ride to Sarajevo: I found it very odd that all of the long-distance buses in the region are actually staffed by two different people: the driver, plus another guy who simply checks tickets – something like a train conductor. The reason I thought this was so strange is because after the first ten minutes or so, he seemed to just sit there for the remaining hours of the ride. Wouldn’t it be easier and more cost-effective to just have the driver check tickets as people get on, like every other bus I’ve ever ridden?
- Bosnian guys are noticeably more muscular and well-dressed than anywhere I’ve seen thus far on the trip. Even in mid-afternoon they seem to be wearing designer jeans and accessories, as if they were on their way to a nightclub or party. Could it be just because of graduation weekend? I dunno, but I did find it to be quite a noticeable difference.
- Likewise, it seems like everywhere I go on this trip, the attractiveness of the females remains on an ever-upward trend. I almost feel like I should stop mentioning it. But take my word for it when I say that it too is quite noticeable – and something that’s been pointed out to me by a good portion of the male travelers I’ve encountered along the way. Example: Do a quick search on Google Images for “Odesa, Ukraine.” See the first result for a glimpse at their most well-known reputation 😛
- One thing that felt very heartwarming about Bosnia in general is that despite the sad events of their (relatively) recent history, the vibe remains remarkably positive. Kids splash around in park fountains, church bells and Muslim chants fill the air countless times per day, little streams trickle throughout, and everybody seems to smile. I can’t claim to have any idea what kind of lasting emotional scars such a war might leave on a people, but whatever it is, they certainly seem to’ve done an amazing job of moving on from the past and looking towards the future.