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Haunting reminders of war

The Yugoslav Wars (1991-2001), Europe’s most brutal conflict since WWII, decimated large parts of the Balkans in a series of ethnic conflicts and independence struggles.

In Bosnia & Herzegovina, the scars of battle between Serb, Croat and Muslim communities are still very much evident across the land - the country is littered with abandoned buildings damaged by bombs, bullets and fire. It’s hard to imagine the terror of this war that so brutally pitted neighbour against neighbour.

In the capital, Sarajevo, there are haunting monuments such as the abandoned Jewish graveyard, Olympic Hotel, and bobsled tracks (built for the winter Olympics 1984) that were used as artillery positions to attack the city.

I wonder if the people have been able to forgive and move on. It must be difficult when reminders of the conflict literally litter the landscape in both town and country?

Some of the posters and graffiti in Sarajevo reflect the people's anger at the UN's lack of action in protecting the people of the country.

It's a beautiful, peaceful country, now almost entirely cleared of landmines and it's sad to associate Bosnia & Herzegovina with war, but alas, war tourism is rife here. Beside the usual travel knick-knacks like fridge magnets, postcards and trinkets, here one can buy bullets that have been emptied of gunpowder & crafted into almost anything.

But come here for the forests. Come for the waterfalls and come for Mostar. If you come only for war tourism, don't be surprised if the walking tour guides look down their noses at you. Most of all, be sensitive; if they are older than 25 years old, they will almost certainly have been heavily affected by the Yugoslav Wars.

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I enjoy writing and love to travel. So I’ve convinced my lovely girlfriend to put our ‘sensible’ lives on hold while we enjoy one more year of what my dad may describe as slightly reckless abandon. I.e. no work and definitely no pension contribution. Sorry Dad: I’ll try again next year. 

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