12 Questions About Bosnia-Herzegovina
I was recently approached by a travel journalist here in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), about what I thought about the country, seeing I was a Blogger interested in the country and the wider region.
The questions I was sent, and the answers I gave are below.
They are my honest thoughts.
The article was written in Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian.
If you know this region you'll understand why I put three languages.
You can read the published article HERE.
What is your full name, last name, how old are you and where do you live right now, in which city / place?
My name is David Bailey.
I'm a little over 65 years of age, and at the moment, I'm based in a village north of Banja Luka, but near the town of Laktaši.
I first came to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993 during the conflict with the United Nations Protection Force, but I suppose I should really say that I came back in 1998 with the NATO Stabilisation Force.
Since when did you have blog about BiH and the Balkans and why did you decide to do that?
I've been blogging about Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans since, I don't know, properly since 2015, so we can say about four years at the moment.
The focus of my blog articles are to show the country in a very, very positive light, the good things about Bosnia and Herzegovina.
What is in the focus of your blog articles - what are you writing about and what are you following?
So for example culture, traditions, everyday life, what local people think, and how life in this beautiful country and this beautiful region impacts me as foreigner whose life, up until I came to the Western Balkans, was completely, completely different from what I experience at the moment.
So I suppose the focus of my blog articles, my vlogs, and my podcasts are all positive.
I don't cover, at all, religion or politics, because it's not my place to do that, because that means giving an opinion, and I think Bosnia and Herzegovina has had too much opinion from foreigners, and to be totally honest, I do think most of it has been unhelpful.
Are you retired, or you still work in BiH?
I retired in 2011, when I started to try to write a blog, to try and create videos with no skills, so that time between 2011 and 2015, I suppose, was trial and error, seeing what might work, what didn't work, so that from 2015, I suppose you can say that I've been "full on".
How else do you spend time here?
Apart from blogging and created my digital content, I spent my time just relaxing and totally enjoying and absorbing being here, seeing the nature, meeting people, and every day is a new experience for me.
I learn something new every single day, and as an older person, I am quite blessed that I'm able to have an adventure after my working life.
What are you most fascinated by in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
There are many fascinating things about Bosnia and Herzegovina for me.
I find the countryside, the nature, if you will, totally mind blowing.
A country with eight micro-climates, a country with the last jungle in Europe, with wonderful rivers, with mountains, with valleys, with culture that is still not absorbed into the 21st century, and I mean that in a nice way.
To go outside Sarajevo in the mountains to Lukomir, that is a place that has hardly been touched by the change of time.
So it's these things that are really fascinating for me. 12 Questions About Me
Do you mind the most/ what bothers you?
So what bothers me about Bosnia and Herzegovina, well, to be totally honest, one, that people are really scared of failure.
So, I see a lot of young people that have amazing ideas to set up businesses, to set up projects, to do things for their future, but are very reluctant to do it through fear of failure, and I think, sometimes, in family culture, maybe it's a shame that somebody in the family fails at something.
I don't really know, but there seems still, it's getting less, but it's still there, that people have ideas, but they want other people to do it for them because they're scared of failing.
And the other thing that bothers me, but I'm getting used to it, is the jealousy that, sometimes, is between people.
I sometimes say to people that Bosnia and Herzegovina takes schadenfreude to a whole new level. There is a level of jealousy or envy that is more than what I've ever found from people and communities in other countries that I've visited.
Do do tourists ask you most often about BiH and the Balkans?
The most often asked question is, is there still a war on? Is it safe?
25 years plus after the end of the conflict here, I still cannot get it into my head how people still think that Bosnia and Herzegovina is still at war.
It's absolutely crazy, but that is the most asked question from foreigners and potential tourists that I've had.
Why should tourists visit BiH and what would you recommend them to visit / which are your favourite sites and locations?
Should tourists visit Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Absolutely. There are so many things to see and to do here.
From white water rafting, just south of Banja Luka, to white water rafting in the river Drina, to visiting castles on remote hilltops, to a whole range of museums, to ethno villages, to hiking, and for people that are into extreme sports, Bosnia and Herzegovina must be an extreme sports persons paradise, but I do recommend to potential tourists and to people that I meet, that they get the full package of Bosnia Herzegovina.
Too much focus is spent on Sarajevo and Mostar, and when you go those two places, at the moment, I think they have over-tourism. Everybody's going there, and there's so much more to see. In the north of the country, in the area around Banja Luka, that is an amazing part of the country to see. It's a city in the north that has more Austral Hungarian influence than maybe cities in the south of the country. So I think people should get the full package to see the whole country, so that's what I recommend that tourists do.
Don't look at the tourist guides for the two major famous places, Sarajevo, because of its siege, which was tragic, Mostar, because of the wonderful bridge that was destroyed in the conflict, also tragic, but also get a view of the whole country.
Unless you visit the whole country, you don't get a feel for the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
What is gastronomy in BiH like for you?
What is the food like?
For me, amazing. I like it.
I know that, not for everybody, non-Balkan person, the food is what they would expect, lots and lots of meat. I love ćevapi, I love going to different places in the country, and experiencing, what they say is their version of Ćevapi, and of course, everybody says theirs is the best.
I just love, love it all. Kajmak, ćevapi, the whole range of food is wonderful.
Can you tell a few anecdotes that are typical for BiH and the Balkans, and very rarely could happen in some Western state?
As far as anecdotes or concerns, it's very difficult to take one off the top of my head.
I'll talk about it in a different way.
I think that the warmth and the hospitality from individuals and from families is second to none in the world. It is amazing, and it's something that has had a massive impact on me, and it's something that I try and introduce. Tourists I bump into and friends and family members that come to see me, I try to introduce them to that by taking them off the beaten track to go and meet a family somewhere and for them to sit down and to experience a warmth and a welcome that I think is absolutely mind blowing.
What kind of slogan would you invite tourists to BiH with?
And what slogan would I invite tourists to Bosnia and Herzegovina with?
I think it's a slogan that I like to use, and others, I suppose, have used it too:
Bosnia and Herzegovina is the real undiscovered heart of Europe. From the hospitality, to the nature, to the culture, right down to the shape of the country, undiscovered heart of Europe.