Travels through History: Journeys in the former Yugoslavia – Kosovo

This excerpt from the book about my travels in The Balkans

“My friends and I think that someone pays them to wear that clothing,” said the taxi driver, pointing at a woman wearing a burqa, “and it has only started in the last 18 months, 2 years. It is the same with the men growing the long beards, they are being paid to make the long beard. It is not traditional. That is what the Muslim women wear here,” he continued jabbing a nicotine-stained finger at another woman with a long, orangey-yellow scarf wrapped around her hair. She was also wearing a long-sleeved blouse and a baggy skirt, both in understated pastel shades. “Those long-bearded men are being paid to be radicals.” “Who would do that, which country would do that, which organisation would pay people to wear burqas and grow beards?” I asked sceptically. “It is Serbia, they are paying people a hundred Euros a month or more to make these statements, so they can cause unrest amongst the people and cause the people to doubt each other. But it won’t work, because they don’t know the Muslims, they don’t know we won’t fall out with each other, because there’s no jihad against fellow Muslims. It is not just to fight your brother, but it is just to fight against a different religion if the circumstances are right.”

Travels through History: Journeys in the former Yugoslavia – Bosnia-Herzegovina

This excerpt from the book about my travels in The Balkans

If the visitor just sees the area around the Turkish bridge, they would find it difficult to believe there was ever a war in Mostar. To find this evidence the visitor should walk past the Karadozbeg Mosque and the Roznamendi Effendi Mosque to the Musala Bridge and look at the ruins of the Neretva Hotel. 80% of Mostar was destroyed during the Balkans War and the ruined buildings in the area of the hotel bear witness to this devastation. The Bosnian Muslim elements within Mostar and the Croats were allies against the Serbs and when the latter were defeated there was peace in the city for roughly a year, before fighting between Bosnians and Croats began with the front line being the street called Kralja Zvonimira.

 

Travels through History: Journeys in the former Yugoslavia – Macedonia

This excerpt from the book about my travels in The Balkans

Five hundred yards further on things started to get interesting. I saw a large equestrian statue on top of an enormous plinth. Even though the official name of this statue is “Warrior on a Horse”, when it was raised the Greeks were upset because they believed the Macedonians were making an unfair claim on Macedonia being the birthplace of Alexander. A strongly worded note from Athens to Skopje outlined the reasons for the Greek displeasure. Underneath rider and horse, a co-ordinated display of leaping water caught my attention. The word fountain doesn’t come close to describing the choreography of the jets as they played in tune with the classical music emanating from loudspeakers attached to nearby lamp standards. The music was Johann Strauss waltzes and extracts from Wagnerian operas such as “Ride of the Valkyries”.

The best spots on the Dalmatian Coast

If you’re thinking of heading to Croatia this summer, here are some ideas of where you can stay:

http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/jul/03/top-10-budget-beach-hotels-campsites-croatia