Travel Journal

About old and new times

(Tuesday 31 December 2013) by Mariken
View over Split
View over Split
We finally left Rovinj and started travelling again! Rovinj was utterly relaxed, so relaxed that we almost forgot what we were doing, namely travelling. On the other hand, we experienced first hand the true pace of Croatian life and we can call ourselves Croatian now, according to our hostess in Split. After our hermit Christmas (while the rain attacked Rovinj, we were tucked away in our nice and warm studio, with freshly baked Christmas cookies, cinnamon scones and tons of other delicacies we were offered by our hosts) we left Rovinj to continue our journey to Split. Quite some kilometres in one go (on secondary roads), which we covered in two days, with an overnight stay in Knin (which really sounds like 'rabbit' in Mestreechs). Split houses the former residential palace of Diocletian, Roman Emperor at the end of the third century and the beginning of the fourth century AD. The palace is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and worth the visit, although it was totally different than I had imagined it to be. Instead of a palace, it was/is more like a walled city, with some residential buildings inside. Nowadays it is largely a ruin and during the course of the centuries many things have been altered, knocked down and rebuilt, so there is hardly something left of the original structure. Ironically enough the mausoleum of Diocletian, famous for his prosecution of Christians, now houses a Catholic church. Funny how things turn out to be. Split is the second largest city in Croatia, with almost 200,000 inhabitants, but it has nevertheless managed to incorporate some 'green' in the city, with the Marjan peninsula, north of the city centre. This peninsula consists of a large hill, covered in trees and surrounded by rocks. Yes, yes, a perfect climbing spot. We did not test it, unfortunately, as we did not want to stay too long in Split, but we did watch the climbers for a while and explored the rocks a bit, so who knows... in the future?

View over Mostar
View over Mostar
After Split we decided to change countries again and headed to Mostar, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is where we are now. Mostar is a confrontation with the recent past, but also proof of what can be achieved when differences are (finally) put aside. The former front line (which was right in the centre of town) is still clearly visible, with ruins and houses full of bullet holes everywhere. Many ruins are fenced off, since there are still mines and booby traps inside. The people here do not seem to notice it anymore, but we certainly do. The famous bridge, which was originally built in 1566 and destroyed by Croat shelling on 9 November 1993 (they have their own 9/11 here), was rebuilt between 1999 and 2004 and officially opened again in 2004. In 2005 it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. And this is the positive side of Mostar; next to the ruined houses you see signs that say 'never forget 1993'. People nowadays freely cross the bridge (and the other bridges) from one side to the other again. We visited the oldest mosque in Mostar (and climbed the minaret, which was the first time for both of us that we did that! We got a discount by the way, as the Netherlands had been good to the Bosnians during the war. I did not tell him that I was just out of diapers at the time, so to speak) and we were told that we should also visit the old Catholic church as it was equally beautiful. Something that strucks me as odd though, is the fact that so much war memorabilia (think of bayonets and army hats, but also pens and small planes made of rifle cartridges and even an odd mine) is sold to tourists. I do not mind that they nowadays turn the war into something profitable - whatever is necessary to survive - I just do not understand that anyone would want to buy something like that as a souvenir. Surely there are nicer ways to remember your visit to Mostar? Sure, the war is part of the history of Mostar, but who wants bullets in his house to remember Mostar, when you can also buy a nice coffee set or some beautiful earrings? Surely Mostar is more than just the war?

So, New Years' eve 2013/2014, in an old city with a tragic recent past, that is clearly looking forward to the future. From this symbolic place we wish you all the best for 2014, good health, prosperity, love, happiness and peace to the world. Happy New Year! :-*

  • oorbellen by Jac


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