Jucer je Daily Telegraph objavio reportazu o Sarajevu i BiH koju je napisao Martin Bell, bivsi reporter i ratni izvjestac BBC-ja.
Welcome to Sarajevo
This week Bosnia returned to the tourist map. Martin Bell introduces the complex country that won his heart.
The timing was serendipitous. As the last of so many British battalions, the Welsh Guards, headed home from Bosnia, British Airways set out in the opposite direction with the first of its thrice-weekly services from Gatwick to Sarajevo. A journey that used to be a day-long ordeal involving hostile militiamen - or, more recently, spent in time-wasting transit through Vienna or Frankfurt - can now be done in two and a half hours on BA's magic carpet. The on-board announcement "Welcome to Sarajevo" was something that Bosnia-lovers like me had been longing to hear for years.
There are few undiscovered cities in Europe. Sarajevo is one of them. For all sorts of reasons, mainly war-related, travellers have been reluctant to go there unless, like soldiers and reporters, they had a professional reason to do so. Now the dangers are in the past and Bosnia is as safe for visitors as any country in Europe - safer than most, in my view. And for old hands like myself the most remarkable innovation is the freedom of movement granted by the blessed absence of roadblocks.
While Bosnia has not entirely recovered from its nightmare, the physical reconstruction has been remarkable, from new shops and offices to the Olympic stadium where Torvill and Dean won gold in the Winter Games of 1984.
Other scars remain, not only in the war damage, but in the lingering mistrust between the peoples of Bosnia. They will never live alongside each other in quite the same way again. But the institutions of a functioning state are more or less established. And visitors to the new Bosnia can be sure of the warmest of welcomes from its Muslims, Serbs and Croats, whatever their reservations about each other.
They will want to talk about the war. The best thing is to listen. You will hear many accounts, some of them conflicting. You can remind yourself that these people have lived through a three-and-a-half year ordeal that we in our more settled existences can hardly imagine. There is not a family in the land that has been left untouched by the war. And you see the scale of it in the acres of graves.
Former war zones are great places to visit. The prices are moderate, people are really pleased to see you, and so much new history has accumulated along with the old. The Holiday Inn still stands - the greatest war-zone hotel of them all - and it is fully functioning now, which is more than it used to be. It has been joined by new lodging places in an affordable price range. And travellers no longer have to pack their own bath plugs.
The food is outstanding. Everything is fresh and local. Nothing is flown in. My favourites include lamb slowly roasted on a river-powered spit, and stuffed cevapcici, a special blend of mince with cheese that is as far from a cheeseburger as caviar is from fish paste.
You can find a taxi-driver-cum-guide for a negotiable €25 an hour. He can take you to the now de-mined Jewish cemetery, scene of the fiercest fighting from 1992 to 1995; to the high road to Pale from which the Serbs once enforced their siege; or, if you wish to forget the war, to the source of the River Bosna in Ilidza, where it flows clear out of the side of a mountain into spacious and peaceful parkland. One thing you never need in Bosnia is bottled water. They should export it.
And as for the shopping… you've come to the right place. Bascarsija, the old Turkish quarter of Sarajevo, is one of the world's great bazaars. Bosnians are gifted gold, silver and coppersmiths. And the war has given them new materials to work with. They don't make swords into ploughshares yet, but they do offer finely engraved shell casings and bullets ingeniously turned into ball-point pens. The next time you need to write bullet points, why not with one of these?
Do not fail, either, to visit the Serbs. They are not only hospitable but live their history - for better or for worse - like no other people on earth. You can find some of it in the "Hearth", a shop run by Risto Gavrilovic, a wood sculptor and repository of folklore who calls it an "Orthodox ethnogallery". After the obligatory slivovic (plum brandy) I browsed among his icons, music, leatherwork and carvings and settled on a hip-flask embossed with the Serbian royal insignia. He offered to fill it with his special brew (which I prudently declined) before signing his guest book with a wish for peace and many, many visitors.
Whether you choose to bargain with the merchants is up to you. They may even expect and enjoy it. I tend not to, on the grounds that they are trying to earn a living in one of Europe's most fragile and barely functioning economies. Post-war Bosnia can offer its people peace, but not yet a thriving market for their diverse talents. Too many of the young see no future for themselves within its borders. Foreign investors, with a few exceptions, have yet to discover its potential.
But this could yet have advantages. Because of a blessed absence of mega-hotels, theme parks and jet-set playgrounds, the money that visitors spend here does tend to trickle down directly to the people. A well-managed and versatile tourism industry is one way for the country to play to its strengths - its beauty, its history and the resourcefulness of its people.
You might consider dividing your time between Sarajevo and Dubrovnik, since British Airways now conveniently flies to both. My advice is to acclimatise on the Adriatic - Dubrovnik is back on the tourist map in a big way - and then cross the border into Bosnia and travel up the Neretva Valley on one of the most spectacular roads in Europe. The highways date from Tito's time: the Yugoslavs were among the world's best civil engineers.
Herzegovina is wild and rugged, and a stronghold of the Bosnian Croats. The legend is that when God made the world he had some rocks left over and dumped them there. As you drive through Herzegovina you will also see reminders of the more recent past, the destruction caused by the side-war between Croats and Muslims - over but not forgotten.
The drive up the Neretva Valley takes in Mostar, where history both ancient and modern awaits you at every turn. This includes the famous stone bridge, built in 1566 and bombed to bits at the height of the war in 1993. It has been wonderfully restored with as much as of the original stonework as possible.
A similar bridge spans the fast-flowing Miljacka River on the old road from Sarajevo to Belgrade. It was in no-man's-land during the war, but unlike Mostar's landmark it remained intact. It is a favourite picnic spot for Sarajevans. And here as elsewhere Bosnia offers a special challenge for photographers: point your camera any way you wish, and you'll not find a single dull picture in the frame.
There are other places - the towns of Travnik and Jajce are two of my favourites - whose inhabitants have hardly seen a tourist since Tito's time. They would love to be visited, for they would take it as a sign that the peace is permanent; and you will find them the most hospitable people you ever met. My only warning comes from personal experience: go easy on that slivovic. There are places up these gorges and canyons where you wouldn't want to lose your footing.
Over the years I have come to love this country like no other on earth, except for my own and sometimes even including my own. And I have developed a theory which I hope to check out with some of those who take advantage of the British Airways flights to Sarajevo. It is that Bosnia touches its visitors with a special kind of alchemy. Its recent history offers lessons in human nature - at both extremes - which we can only benefit from learning.
It opens our eyes. It stops us in our tracks. It teaches us what not to take for granted. And it changes people, always for the better.
Video link: http://www.mediaplayer.telegraph.co....C-654E3095FF37