it's not a tourist highlight and you won't find it crowded by tourist
(anyway no places in Bosnia are really touristy (luckily)), but
I met so many helpful people that could be one good reason to visit
the town ;-)
It's the main town (politically you cannot define it "the capital")
of the Serpsk Republik in Bosnia, hence you won't find any mosquee
or any muslim walking in the streets, as opposed to Sarajevo. Just
orthodox churches and grave yards (at least at the time of travelling:
12/2002) but also a quite modern and nice downtown with many green
areas. In the town there're no evident signs of the war unless the
frequent black tombstones.
Banja Luka is characterised by a communist style with its
cold massive grey buildings and with his "ukrainian style"
market, as appeared to me , being there in some cold foggy
charming winter days.
I think it's really worth visiting Banja Luka once you are travelling
to/from Sarajevo, so that, comparing these two realities
you could perceive the complexity of the Bosnian-Serbian situation:
they are two different world in just one country.
Banja Luka is very expensive cancerning the accomodation
for a traveller, the cheapest I found was 40 euro/night (12/2002)
(shit!! my budget fucked up in one day ;-), but, at least, the hotel
the time of travelling (12/2002) just one train connected Banja
Luka to Zagaber and to Sarajevo, hence plan carefully your travel!
If you had
the chance to visit just one place in Bosnia it should be
Sarajevo. When I got there by train I knew a kind bosnian guy, Goram,
who, taking me to visit the town and hanging out in the night, told
me about war events and how they changed his life: I got impressed.
He turned out to be a nice and interesting company during my stay
in Sarajevo; thanks Goram!
I was charmed by the culture mixing in the town, called also the
"european Jerusalem", in fact you can find an orthodox church near
a mosque, a catholic church and a jewish synagogue. Moreover
Sarajevo is settled in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains.
At the time of travelling (12/2002) the town still showed evident
signs of the war: shell holes on the ground
on the building facades,
and huge burnt buildings as the parliament. But
many people were employed in the reconstruction and in few ye
While I was travelling through
Bosnia I met an irish traveler who advised me to go to Kosovo, in
particular to Prizren, because of his beauty. I went. He was right.
(read how I cross the border)
Prizren lies at the bottom of a mountain; the oldest part of the
mountain is built on the slope, while the other one, separated by
a river, spread out
on the flat. At the time of the travel (12/2002) all Kosovo was
controlled by KFOR (Kosovo FORce),
it means in Prizren there was a continuos flow of amphibian tanks,
jeeps, soldiers and many places in the old town were fenced by barbed
wire. Moreover the upper part of the old town was damaged by the
recent war, despite all this, I fell in love with Prizren!
It was a rainy cold winter day while I was there and everything
was surrounded by a light fog. I found it really charming. Mainly
I found out so nice and helpful people;
I've not had any kind of problem wandering through the town taking
pictures and speaking with locals...it has been simply great!
-at the time of travelling
(12/2002) if you come from Italy (schengen country) you don't need
visa; you just pay 6 euro, but you have to stand the ground to persuade
the border guards about it!!
-Due to the fact that thousands
of soldiers live there, Kosovo has got expensive: the cheapest accommodation
in Prizren were 20 euros.
-Try to communicate with
people learning some words in albanian, but don't use serbian-bosnian
words, they won't be welcomed!
-Do not carry with you at
Prishtina airport the old bullet cases you may have found in the
way or bought as souvenir, you'll have problems as happened to me,
and I had to drop them there
-Avoid visiting Prishtina:
there's nothing special and taxi drivers who take to the airport
swindle people asking 15 euros saying it's a 20 Km trip, but it's
just 9 Km long! Unfortunately there are no other means of transport
to get to the airport.
-At the time of travelling
(12/2002) railway was closed, but I heard they were going to reopen
-At the time of travelling
(12/2002) all the serbian border was closed: you could entry Kosovo
just from the south (Macedonia) or from Montenegro, as I did.
time of travelling Mostar was divided in two parts: the east part
was the muslim one with
lot of mosques and the respective minarets rising up from the
town. The west part was the catholic one from where a high concrete
steeple (the highest, I've never seen) dominated the town. Read
my story about the atmosphere I found in Mostar in the christmas
day (read the story).
Unfortunately the east part, the oldest, was bombed during the
bosnian-serbian war, and the bridge, symbol of the town (mostar;
most=bridge) blew out. Now they are rebuilding it, but it'll take
long time. Have a look to the old postcard and you'll realise
the tragedy of such loss.
I recommend to see the view from the top of the hill where the
huge steel christian cross towers. I got there hitch hiking (read
the story), but be careful follows the street because of the
mines. From Mostar
it'll take two hours on foot, but it's worth.
Once again in Mostar I found helpful and kind people.