Bosnia has never had it easy. Contested by Byzantine powers after the fall of the Roman Empire, mobbed by Slavs in the 7th century and suppressed by Hungarian rule 400 hundred years later, it finally regained independence only to be conquered by Ottoman Turks in 1463, when it largely converted from Christianity to Islam. When it would have seemed the turmoil was all over, Bosnia was annexed by Austria-Hungary at the crack of the 20th century, and what followed was an immensely horrid list of atrocities that came to a halt as late as in December, 1995, leaving Bosnians and Herzegovinians to bind each other's wounds. Now the country is looking boldly into the future with the potential of becoming a well-rounded destination tailored to a wide variety of expectations and is doing a good job melting down the negative stereotypes and prejudice that have long turned people off.
Indeed, B&H has it all. The picturesque picnic scenery of Kravica Waterfalls is rivaled by delightful, medieval Jajce and the Pliva Lake region, where water sports are part of mundane routine. Featured with soaring minarets and a pulsating bazaar, Sarajevo's Old Town, Bascarsija, draws as many a soul as tiny Medjugorie, once a sleepy village that turned into one of the most important places of Catholic cult. Sun blessed Neum, beautifully squeezed on a strip of the Adriatic coast, runs a battle for tourist supremacy with the hiker's paradise, Sutjeska National Park, and the reconstructed Old Bridge spanning over the Neretva River in Mostar (necessarily to be seen after dark!) is the finest symbol of how much the people have gone through, what they believe in, and where they come from. Don't be surprised to see tears welling in their eyes as they recall their beloved Stari Most collapsing from tank shelling and lying buried in the river bed.
As they say, every cloud has a silver lining, and although we wish this luster had come without bloodshed and suffering, the fact remains that each individual force ever coming into play here left a remarkable architectural imprint, sparkle of beliefs, and enigmatic foundation block for the mentality of the modern citizen. Old habits die hard in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Folk music echoes from the valleys, traditional attire adds color to the impossibly monotonous greenery, and people, much as they are toughened up, laugh profusely to scare the nightmares away. Far from devout but Muslim at heart, they will readily invite you to share a lavish meal with them, and for your information, there's nothing like the multi-flavored, slow-cooked Bosanski lonac served with crispy pita bread. Try and let us know what you think.