A jewel for tourists

Maj. Pellumb Elezi
First published in
SFOR Informer#147, September 12, 2002

The somewhat small country of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is of great interest to a variety of tourists. Beautiful and interesting is BiH to the painter and historian, to the linguist and ethnologist, to the musicologist and mountaineer; in short, to anyone who desires to make the acquaintance of the people living in the Balkan region.

Camp Butmir - On Sept. 1, 2002 approximately 48 German soldiers travelled from Sarajevo to Mostar by railway. The group started their journey at 5:30 a.m. when they left Camp Butmir by bus. Thirty minutes later they arrived at the Sarajevo railway (Željeznicka stanica). It was a nice morning as the train pulled away from the station ten minutes later. On both sides of the railway the passengers saw a lot of destroyed houses while at the same time viewing a number of newly constructed buildings.
Beautiful panorama
After a succession of bridges and tunnels the train arrived in Konjic, a small town on the Neretva River. From Tarcin to Konjic the majority of participants spent their time gazing at the marvellous panorama offered through the windows of the train, their cameras fixed at the miraculous views. Then the railway line ran between the river and the road. Abrupt rocks rose up on both sides of the river and were reflected in the water. The view was wonderful. The passenger's cameras were furiously clicking away, capturing the pristine beauty.
“The breakfast in the train while travelling through this beautiful area was fascinating. It is a total other view to the river from the train. You may look in the valleys and see the whole and wide areas,” said Maj. Jurgen Asche, commander, German National Support Element (GE NSE).
Mostar 2002
The last whistle of the train was heard as it stopped in Mostar station. Here, a bus and a guide were waiting for the group to go sightseeing in the town. The guide, a skillful boy, showed the group many destroyed buildings leftover from the war. Almost all of them were the main buildings of the town. Among the ruined monuments was the old bridge (Stari Most), the symbol of Mostar. Everywhere you turned one saw the consequences of a cruel war. On almost all of the building's walls were bullet holes. Remnants left over from the battle.
But there were also a lot of modern shops, bars and restaurants with many people buying, drinking or eating.
“Our life is normal now. Don't you see this bar? It is full of people,” said Nexhat Muslim, a waiter in caffe-bar Bella Vista located near the bank where the famous bridge stood. After visiting the Mosque Mehmet Pasha, built in1618, damaged in 1994 and rebuilt in August 2001, the group went to the old, characteristic Turkish house Kajtazi. Here, two participants of the group tried on traditional Turkish costumes. All the Germans burst out laughing.
The Buna River
At noon the group went for lunch in Blagoj, a picturesque area located on the Buna River. Here, water springs from a rock and creates a wonderful view. After lunch, the group members had the chance to spend time exploring the town. As the visitors made their way back to the railway station it started raining. At 8 p.m. they began their journey back to Sarajevoj.
The trip proved successful thanks to the careful planning of the members of the GE NSE.
“The organisation of such a travel for a small NSE is a large enterprise. It's only with the help of others I was able to do it, and I had it,” said Sgt. Maj. Karsten Desens, GE NSE.
“This day was also very long for all. For some of us it began at 4:30 a.m. and ended at about midnight. I hope this travel was a success. My assignment here in Butmir ends Oct. 20. I am not sure I'm able to organise another travel. The preparations for Oktoberfest (traditional German beer-feast) begin on Sept. 28. But I hope my successor will take up again this idea and organise further travels,” he said.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Germany

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Photos: Sgt. Diego Ropero Pastor

The German soldiers travelled from Sarajevo to Mostar by taking this train.

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In Mostar, a view of the glorious Mehmet Pasha mosque.

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An example of the wonderful landscape between Sarajevo and Mostar.

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The old bridge (Stari Most), the symbol of Mostar, was located in this place.