Bang in the Middle of Europe

A journey to (re)discover Bosnia i Herzegovina by Sladja Kisić

One of the misconceptions many of us have about Bosnia is that it’s very far away, but actually, it’s *bang* in the middle of Europe! It even felt like that to me, until last summer.

Geographically, Bosnia is embraced in the arms of Croatia, that Pearl of the Adriatic which has mesmerized travellers these last twenty years. Just over the hill from Croatia is Bosnia and Herzegovina, sidelined for years like the youngest kid at a family party. In the Yugoslav war, my family was one of the many that "relocated" when important men re-drew their charts, and like that little sister, a faint sense of rejection always lingered in me, right alongside the urge to go back and check it out. For years, I threatened to take my British husband and our kids (now young teenagers) to see the place where I was born and grew up, playing football in the street with the other local kids, scrumping whatever fruit was in season from the neighbours’ orchards, splashing into the green river in which I learned to swim (or pretended to, depending on who you ask).

As Covid travel bans relaxed, the time was right to deliver my promised Bosnian adventure when I was invited to a high-school reunion in my little hometown, with old friends flying in from around the world. We arrived there from London one sunny July afternoon in our right-hand drive campervan, causing no end of double-takes from the locals. Before our grand reunion dinner, we drove out of town a little way to where the ruin of my childhood home still stands. Arriving in the late afternoon, the place basked in the golden summer sunshine that blesses the whole Mediterranean region, and while it was heartbreaking to see the remains of the broken houses, it was a delight to see what nature does when left to its own devices – re-wilding in its truest sense! Whatever remained of the next-door neighbour’s was hidden now, in a tall green forest that once was a well-kept waist-high hedge. My mum’s flowerbeds were in full bloom; the same kaleidoscopic variety of flowers I remember so vividly, yet with no-one there to tend and water them. The field behind our little house was carpeted in wildflowers of every colour, the air sweet with their perfume. Birds twittered and bees hummed busily, and wherever we looked, green hills rolled away into the distance. Seeing it all through my wide-open grown-up eyes, I knew our Bosnia adventure was going to be great! Green and clean and just a little wild, it surely delivered!

(this is an excerpt). Photography by Sladja Kisić and Carlo Irek. For more details about this travelogue, or to publish images and a story in your publication contact us!
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Places visited on this roadtrip include Una National Park, Banja Luka, Jajce, Počitelj, Stolac, Mostar, Sarajevo, Kravica

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