It is a story of a country trying to come back to normality, Mostar these days is a tourist centre with a recently opened 4 star hotel that you could easily find in London or Berlin. Sarajevo is a capital with dozens of B&Bs and restaurants full of people including tourists even in April, but then there is Pochitelj, a picture postcard town which is relaxed and empty. The staff of the main restaurant in Pochtelj doesn’t mind if we park our trailer in front of it for the night. It feels like camping in a fairy tale, surrounded by 16 century Ottoman architecture buildings.
The canyon of the river Neretva is one of the longest and most pristine in Europe and leads to the town of Konjic, another unique find for me on this trip. It has a mixture of Ottoman and modern architecture and is very welcoming.
Nearby is Borachko Lake, a place where you can relax from every day stress, hike and enjoy white water rafting. You can also see marked mine fields along the hiking trails. Even in nature there is a reminder of the recent war, but there are also people who are mountain biking and hiking and a new road is being built to speed up the connection between Mostar and Konjic.
I joined a group of journalists and artists who were visiting Tito’s bunker. Finished in 1974, it was supposed to provide shelter for the Yugoslav leader and the Elite in case of a nuclear attack. 300 people could live there for up to six months. It is an underground town built to sustain a nuclear attack 4 times the strength of the bomb thrown on Hiroshima.
The bunker almost got blown up on the orders of Ratko Mladic (currently on trial in The Hague for war crimes), but was saved by a Serb who took the order from Mladic but did not pass it on.
Today it is a space for international artists exhibiting work inspired by conflicts and fears of nuclear attacks typical for the cold war period of the 20th century.