We're in Sarajevo now, another beatiful Bosnian city. It's full of pretty red-tile roof houses, more than 200 old mosques, ornate Austro-Hungarian imperial buildings, and skyscrapers. All of this is surrounded by lush green mountains, from which the Bosnian Serbs shelled the city to bits during the war. In Mostar, you could still see the war everywhere -- as you walk down the former front line, most of the buildings you pass are just stone skeletons slowly disappearing behind trees and ferns. Here, most of the damage has been repaired, except for a few shrapnel-pocked walls and a couple of fancy landmarks looking for a generous patron.
Yesterday, we signed up for a tour of the city, which was great. Our tour guide Delila was a 23-year-old econ student from the local university, clad in super-tight jeans, a tiny halter top, and faux Gucci shades. She was kind of like a Bosnian Maggie, except slightly more made up and scantily clad. She invited along a similarly trendy friend named Ellie who was studying to pass the tour guide exam, so we got two giggly guides for the price of one.
My favorite part was seeing the Latin Bridge (shown in the picture, along with our sassy tour guides), on which Archduke Ferdinand was assasinated. There used to be bronze footprints commemorating the spot where Gavrilo Princip ran up to a corner and pulled the trigger, but they got ripped out of the pavement during the seige of Sarajevo because Princip was a Bosnian Serb. I was looking forward to going to the bridge because I thought it'd be an interesting curiousity, but it was more intense than I expected. It's actually kinda spooky standing on the spot where WWI started.
It was also really interesting listening to Delila and Ellie talk about Tito. We saw Tito keychains in Mostar, and several Tito portraits in Sarajevo. We took them to be kitschy relics until we met our tourguides, who were BIG Tito fans. Tito kept Yugoslavia's ethnic and religious groups from fighting, they pointed out (although they didn't mention that his tactics for keepting the peace were pretty nasty). They both said that Bosnia was living proof that socialism works, because the average standard of living was apparently way better in the former Yugoslavia. If econ students who dress in trendy ripoffs of luxury brands thought that, I'm guessing nostalgia for communism runs pretty deep in the Balkans.