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Costa Dubrovnik

#BalkanBants - Dubrovnik

sunny 32 °C
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Arriving in Dubrovnik in the evening was a bit of a culture shock. After travelling through standard cities we had suddenly arrived in a tourist hotspot. As we got on the bus into the old city, the first people we saw were drunken, sunburnt Brits.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

After a busy few days through Bosnia it was quite a relief to be spending two whole days in Dubrovnik giving us chance to get settled, have a lie in, and do a bit of washing, and luckily for us we were staying the Old City itself, meaning we were super close to all the attractions, and were able to pop back during the day to recover from the heat - and despite being crazily busier on the main street, the side streets were quiet enough for us not to be disturbed, and achieve a good old rest.

On the Stradun

On the Stradun

On the first day we explored the Old City, walking along the Stradun, and around the Harbour, before having our beach afternoon taking a dip in the sea overlooking the Old City. Unfortunately so hot was the weather that after just a little bit of time I was absolutely exhausted and needed to go back for an afternoon nap.

Dubrovnik Beach

Dubrovnik Beach


Old City from Mt. Srđ

Old City from Mt. Srđ

After recovering we ventured down to the aquarium before eating and then going up Mt. Srđ for sunset, to witness the great views of the city in both day and night.

Old City by night

Old City by night

Coming back down and taking a walk around the city lit up at night, we headed back to the apartment for the night, and the following morning we took a walk around the city walls.

Rector's Palace

Rector's Palace

After an ice cream to cool off, we went for a walk around the Lovrijenac fortress before coming back to the harbour to take a boat tour around Lokrum island.

Lovrijenac from the boat

Lovrijenac from the boat

After an evening enjoying the sunset with a few drinks on the rocks outside the city walls, our short busy-yet-restful stop was over and the next morning we were headed just down the coast to Kotor in Montenegro for more stunning views.

Dubrovnik was very pretty however it was a bit tainted by the huge masses of tourists that meant the views were not as enjoyable as they could be. This was as near as I had come to a holiday resort in a long time and hopefully it will be the last for a while too.....

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Croatia Tagged beach history mountain city tourists balkanbants Comments (0)

"The whole of the Bosnian coast in one picture"

#BalkanBants - Mostar

sunny 37 °C
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Bosnia was the only country in which we visited two cities, travelling via the beautiful city of Mostar on our way from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik in Croatia.

Arriving in mid morning after travelling through the stunningly beautiful Bosnian countryside, Johan and I spent just a few hours in Herzegovina's largest city, where we made our way down towards the icon of the city - the Stari Most, or Old Bridge.

Stari Most

Stari Most

As we travelled south from the bus station in the 40˚C heat with backpacks in tow, we first reached the beautiful Kujundžiluk, or Old Bazaar, where, between the tourists, we first gained our view of the Old Bridge, that had famously been rebuilt just ten years previously after destruction during the Bosnian War in 1993.

Old Bazaar

Old Bazaar

Carrying on a little bit further and we crossed over the bridge itself with picture postcard views of the valley of the local area. We then hit the other side of the bridge and walked down to the riverbank below the bridge for a rest with beautiful views and a photo session.

View over the city from the bridge

View over the city from the bridge

Cooling off we then walked back towards the bus station via the Crooked Bridge and rest of the Old Bazaar, and then carried on our Balkan Tour towards Dubrovnik.

The whole of the Bosnian coast in one picture

The whole of the Bosnian coast in one picture

Being held up at the first border over a pack of leaflets, the thought of travelling back into Bosnia and then Croatia again as we crossed through Neum didn't exactly fill me with pleasure but luckily after stopping off for a photo of the whole of the Bosnian coastline we made it through relatively quickly and found ourselves in the tourist hotspot of Dubrovnik.

Mostar was incredibly beautiful and despite being small is definitely worth the trip, especially as it is doable as a day trip from both Dubrovnik and Split.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Tagged history border war balkanbants Comments (0)

"Hvala - from everyone"

#BalkanBants - Sarajevo

sunny 36 °C
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After our mosque hunting drive through the Bosnian countryside, we headed to bed before our full day of sightseeing in the historic capital of Sarajevo began the next day.

Starting off with the practicalities by buying our onward travel tickets, the following morning we headed down Sniper Alley towards the Historical Museum of Bosnia & Herzegovina, where we began our day viewing images of the Bosnian War, and the aftermath and in particular Srebrenica, of which the twentieth anniversary had occurred just a few days before. With the historical mode firmly on, we headed past the parliament building with one of the many Blood Roses outside, symbolising the blood shed caused by the shelling during the siege of the city in the mid-90s.

Latin Bridge

Latin Bridge

Before long we had already reached another historical site, the Latin Bridge, a beautiful bridge over the river, and on which the northern end is the site of the shooting of Archduke Franz Ferdinand - the trigger point for the start of WWI.

Plaque marking the shooting in 1914

Plaque marking the shooting in 1914


The gun that triggered WWI

The gun that triggered WWI

After taking a look inside the small museum dedicated to the Austro-Hungarian rule of Bosnia, including the actual gun used in the assassination, we headed back out and over to the City Hall, where the Archduke and his wife were photographed just moments before their untimely death, before making our way to the old city.

The Baščaršija

The Baščaršija

The old city has a very distinct Ottoman feel, with the Turkish markets and food, cosy shops and towering minarets. And yet, just down the street is the westernised High Street with a completely different feel, with the cathedrals on side streets. We then headed for a view of the city and valley by walking up to the Yellow Bastion for a cool down drink.

One of the many Muslim graveyards in the city

One of the many Muslim graveyards in the city

Looking down over the city with its different cultures all intertwined, as well as the surrounding mountains that were used to shell down over the city and the hundreds of Muslim graves on every remaining green patches not already built on gave a fascinatingly beautiful yet deeply upsetting image of the city that will live with me forever.

One of the many Blood Roses in the city

One of the many Blood Roses in the city

The fact that just twenty years ago, and therefore in my own lifetime, this city was under siege by former residents in a truly intolerant circumstance is truly upsetting. However being able to view how this city has recovered and now, which to me at least seemed to have resolved itself to live side by side in harmony gives me hope for a better future for the world as a whole.

Visual image of how the siege occurred

Visual image of how the siege occurred

Heading back down the hill we made our way to join the Siege Tour that I had booked for us. This would give us an even more informed image of how the city was during the Bosnian War, being able to visit the Siege Tunnel used in the war to provide relief to the residents without the fear of being shot as they crossed the runway to the rest of the free Bosnian territory.

Reconstructed Minefield

Reconstructed Minefield


Inside the Siege Tunnel

Inside the Siege Tunnel

After viewing this area, we then headed up to the mountains to see just how easy it was for the residents to be shot by snipers from the mountains in Snipers Alley, before making our way to walk on the, now abandoned, bobsleigh track from the 1984 Olympics.

On the Bobsleigh Track

On the Bobsleigh Track

As we got back in the bus to take us down to the city, it was noticeable just how hilly parts of the city are. It was now rush hour and trying to meander the small hilly city roads with passing traffic was particularly difficult. Although things were made easier by help from a local - to whom the Australian on the bus exclaimed "Hvala - from everyone!"

As we arrived back in the city from a very informative and enjoyable tour, we made our way to the city to grab a bite to eat - luckily taking this just as the thunderstorm occurred, meaning we didn't end up caught in it, and then headed back towards our hotel via the Olympic arenas and a crazy Bosnian throwing herself on traffic and subsequently being arrested by the local cops.

Despite only having a day in the city, Sarajevo was crammed full of exciting things for us to see and I would highly recommend it as a place to visit, along with Bosnia as a whole.

Onwards to Mostar!

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Tagged culture history war olympic macabre balkanbants Comments (0)

"By walking, we can afford to eat"

#BalkanBants - Belgrade

sunny 35 °C
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And so it begins.

Having been many months in the planning, I arrived on the Saturday night in Belgrade, capital of Serbia, to meet up with my good friend Johan, who I hadn't seen in over three years.

My time in Belgrade was short - lasting less than 20 hours, but it was enough to get a feel for the city.

View over the Sava and Great War Island

View over the Sava and Great War Island

We began our day by leaving the hotel and walking over to the Kalemegdan - the fortress over the city with views of the confluence of the Sava and the Danube. It was only 9:30am, but with our bags and the hot weather things were already getting sweaty - and this was just the beginning.
As we headed back off into the city we followed the main street - Kneza Mihailova down towards Republic Square, before we headed down to the bus station to get our tickets for the afternoon bus to Sarajevo. Successfully buying these, we then headed off to the landmark of the city, the St. Sava's Cathedral.

St. Sava's Cathedral

St. Sava's Cathedral

Chilling out around the cathedral we then made the long hilly walk towards the Museum of Yugoslav History, which contains the tomb of the leader of Yugoslavia - Tito.

Tito's Tomb

Tito's Tomb

Having seen everything we wanted, we then headed back towards the bus station to take our late afternoon bus, before stopping off for food.

By this stage we were feeling very tired due to the heat and heavy bags we were carrying, but as we still had enough energy, as well as plenty of time we decided to walk, which as the dinars were running out was probably a good thing - I then positively announced that by walking, instead of taking a bus, we had enough money left to eat! After walking past many of the blown up buildings and having a bite to eat, we then made our way to the bus station to take our bus to the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo.

Standard Belgrade

Standard Belgrade

In review I'd say that Belgrade was interesting, however it was very big, quite shabby and could really do with a metro. Unfortunately there just wasn't that much to see, and what was there was all spread out, meaning less than one day was plenty!

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Serbia Tagged cathedral yugoslavia balkanbants Comments (0)

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