The thought hits you as you’re crossing the border: I’M IN BOSNIA. It’s a place that most people can’t say they’ve been. I am definitely no expert on the place, seeing as I have only been to one city, and for one day, but still. My only day in Bosnia was beautiful, stupendous, and unforgettable.
We decided to go to Bihać after visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. It was something that caught my eye as I was eagerly scanning the pages of the Rick Steves Croatia guidebook that my mom gifted to me months prior. It was only a short drive, about an hour, to get there from the park. With daylight to spare, we headed east to Bosnia & Herzegovina. The road wound through the Croatian countryside and we saw many small farms, roadside shops, and historical war town buildings (preserved to help keep the memory of the war alive) along the way. Once we got to the border, there was a large ominous covered building in which we drove through and got our passports stamped. Right when we got to the other side, there were stray dogs coming up to the car looking for scraps! We decided we might give them a bite on the way back (didn’t end up doing that), and went on our way. It took us about fifteen minutes from the boarder to reach Bihać.
The city was small and quiet in comparison to the hustle and bustle of the coastal Croatian cities we had been in. Locals were outside, chopping large piles of wood (presumably to heat their homes for the coming winter), walking with their families, and working at produce stands along the roadsides. It wasn’t hard to follow the signs toward downtown, and after making a loop around the block, parked the car and went to explore the city center. I don’t remember what day of the week it was (they all meld together), but there weren’t many people out, and many of the shops weren’t open. In the center of the square was a mosque, the Fethija mosque.
After walking around the square and taking the time to observe a nearby informational board, we headed toward some of the sights in Bihać. The first place we went to see was the Saint Anton’s Church. You can’t enter the church, but you can see the building and the mausoleum from the city square which makes it easy to find. SO beautiful and so old (13th century).
From there we headed toward the River Una, which we crossed to get into downtown. There were some beautiful sculptures and bronze pieces along the sidewalk. We walked the bridge across the river, and then returned to the side we started on to explore a nearby park. There were more people here; sitting in restaurants outside, walking their dogs, spending time with their kids. Umbrellas were strung up across the walkways, making it a very colorful and beautiful setting.
Now it was time for the real reason we came to Bosnia & Herzegovina; to eat. In our time walking around the city center, we found a restaurant, Sofra, that advertised local Bosnian cuisine, and took them up on the offer. The place was eloquent! They played traditional Bosnian music, had mannequins in the restaurant dressed in traditional garments, and the decor was very tastefully done, incorporating many live plants into the space. I ordered a lamb dish with a vegitable side and a glass of Bosnian Chardonnay. WHAT A MEAL.