Monday, May 19, 2008

Back to Sarajevo

Emira and I arrived back in Sarajevo no worse for wear about an hour ago. Since the bus station is in the middle of the city, I got a better look at the main part of town on our way in, and it was interesting to compare to the one we'd just seen.

On the way down, Emira and I talked alot about the ravages that war placed on the town, and it's easy to see. There are many many buildings with large chunks (and small bullet holes) pock-marking the facade. There are even apartment complexes with perfect circles where grenade launchers hit them. I was surprised that these buildings were still standing - as I guess I'd always thought that buildings that had been hit with anything larger than a bullet would immediately collapse. Indeed, I stand corrected now, as most buildings are still in tact, they just look heavily acne-scarred. You can guess it does not make for such an awe inspiring landscape.

Dubrovnik, of course, sees more tourists and, as I understand it, was not heavily seiged by the Serbs. While our guidebook claimed six months, Emira hotly denies this, stating that it was only TWO weeks and that fourteen people lost their lives. It's hard to get an objective view on things (although I'm of course, predisposed to believe Emira) but a nice outline can be found here.

Because the Old Town in Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage Site , the damage was fixed rather quickly, unlike Sarajevo, which has seen only a slow rebuilding. Don't get me wrong, there IS construction going on - and there are certainly a whole lot more going for it than I expected (drinkable tap water, excellent bus system, a WHOLE lot of Volkswagons...) - but there is still a decidedly run-down feel to the place. And sometimes, the war legacy literally smacks you right in the face, like when you stumble on the sidewalk over "mortar shell roses" (divets left in the sidewalk) or, as I did, came face to face with a tank outside Tito's Bar. (Although, to be fair this tank was from WWII.)

Anyway, interesting stuff going on. And yes, if you didn't know, there was a war here - but there isn't anymore.

M is for Mortal Shell Roses;

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