If some would have told me one year ago, that my best friend in Germany will be Bosnia , that I will drink Bosnian coffee and will go to Bosnia and Herzegovina – I would have replied: «You must be kidding me!». Well, one year ago later, I am sitting in the bus, the direction -Berlin to Sarajevo, on my way to discover this amazing country where one of my best friends came from.
Before my arrival to Germany and ESK, I did not know much about Bosnia and Herzegovina.I just heard once or twice about it from the Eurovision Song-Contest, honestly speaking. How big was my surprise when I arrived to Germany, and my first flatmate was a volunteer from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Soon afterwards I met the other Bosnian girl from Sarajevo, who started doing her ESK in my office the same time as I did. Later she became my best friend here in Germany and we have been living this ESK together. I was born and raised up in the two cultures and mentalities – Kazakh and Russian. And I find some similarities in Bosnian culture with mine – Kazakh and Russian. Bosnians are Muslims as Kazakhs and the Bosnian language is a little bit similar to Russian, but has a lot of Turkish derived words which we use in the Kazakh language too. Bosnians are also family-driven and hospitable as Kazakhs. The more Bosnian people I met, the more I heard, read and watched about this country, the more I realized I started somehow being attracted to these people and their culture, planning one day to go and visit their country. And so, here was I, sitting on the bus to Sarajevo and looking forward to my adventure. It was as well my first time to the Western Balkans Region, so you can imagine how excited I was. After 26 hours, several passports controls and borders crossings, I finally entered the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. And I felt in love! The first is nature - I could not describe how this country is blessed by it – mountains, rivers, waterfalls! One of the most beautiful nature landscapes I’ve ever seen.
The Bosnian people for me are one of the most open, friendly and easy-going people. They will help you always if you will ask, make you smile and invite for a coffee. If you are invited for a coffee – that would mean not a quick sip, but a long talk, where you are discussing everything what is important. And if you will finish your coffee fast – people can be offended, because having a coffee for Bosnians is not just drinking, it is a ritual. If you are invited for a Bosnian family dinner – please be ready to eat a lot of delicious Bosnian food – cevapi, burek, pita, dolma, Bosnian bean soup, suho meso and of course, sweets - rahat lakoum. And drink coffee. And smoke. Smoking cigarettes is another part of daily Bosnian life-style. Everybody smokes, in the morning, while having a coffee at home, sitting in a café with friends, while waiting for a tram and while walking along the streets. My trip started in Sarajevo and I felt in love with this city in moment. The city with a rich history, the strong city, with diverse mixture of religious and cultures, amazing architecture - this city has the special vibes and atmosphere. Since 1995, every August the city holds the Sarajevo Film Festival, which is the largest film festival in Southeast Europe and one of the largest film festivals in Europe. I was so lucky to come to Sarajevo during the Festival and visit the premiere – the movie of Quentin Tarantino “Once upon the time in Hollywood”. During the Film Festival the city blooms, many are coming to Sarajevo and it’s completely different atmosphere. During one of the days we visited Lukomir – the highest in altitude and the most remote village in the entire country. For me it was one of the best travelling experiences, because I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the nature and the hospitality of the local people.
After Sarajevo and Lukomir we travelled to Herzegovina, one of the most beautiful parts for me in this country. We visited Mostar and walked through the Old Bridge or Stari Most, one of the oldest and famous bridges in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The other great places I had a chance to visit were the amazing Počitelj historic village and an open-air museum, the beautiful Kravica Waterfalls and Konjic - the mountainous city in a green wooded area, 268 m above sea level. It is never too enough to explore Bosnia and Herzegovina, because this country has much more to offer.
Some people were asking if I came to Bosnia and Herzegovina to see how the country recovered from the war, because many tourists are coming to experience this. But not in my case. I know about the war because I read about it, I know it from my Bosnians, and it is the history of our world, our society. But I came to Bosnia and Herzegovina to pay a tribute to my Bosnians friends because I love them and I wanted to see where they came from, learn more about their country, people and culture. Moreover, I found similarities in our cultures which unite us and I felt in love with this country, so I became feeling myself a little bit Bosnian as well. As for my trip, I had the amazing time in Bosnia and Herzegovina, met great people, learnt more about the culture and even picked up some Bosnian language. I felt myself so warm-welcomed and this country made me feeling that I have to come back again.