Thursday, October 16, 2014

Adriatic Tour–Is it Safe?

adr14Before I begin describing my recent trip, maybe I should address the “elephant in the room” or the question everyone seems to ask about this part of Eastern Europe, “Are you sure it is safe to travel there?”  Almost immediately after I announced I would be traveling on the Rick Steve’s Adriatic Tour of Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, I received a lot of messages concerned about the safety of the area.  Although the war occurring after the breakup of Yugoslavia was over 20 years ago, everyone still hears about the atrocities. 

I can tell you that the journey was safe.  In fact, the cities and surrounding areas of Slovenia and Croatia are now safer than most of the United States.   A few pickpockets may appear now and then (we did not encounter any) and fans of the local soccer team may get a little out of hand in Split, but there was/is no violent crime.  You can walk about at 3 a.m. in Ljubljana (city of approximately 200,000) without any fear.  Certainly cannot claim that about Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle—any time of day.

Although we were not in any danger, the tension of the previous war still exists in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  To say the country is struggling politically is a huge understatement.  The schools are segregated between ethnic groups (how can the people get past this if the kids are taught to hate).  Slovenia and Croatia are fairly homogeneous (majority of  Slovenes in Slovenia and Croats in Croatia), but Bosnia and Herzegovina (one country—two names) are divided between Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks. 

I am obviously not a historian or an expert on the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina—all I can go on are the stories told by local people.  And they often brought me to tears.  One young man who had to bury his father on a hillside at night to avoid snipers.  A woman slightly younger than me who had to survive hunger and avoid the bombing in Mostar that went on for years.  It is safe for tourists to visit the ancient city of Mostar and most of this country, but it is a sad place.  The tour only included one night in Bosnia and Herzegovina which emotionally was enough.

Overall, I say you must visit.  It is safe.  It will not stay untarnished long.  The locations are like going back in time.  Looking forward to describing each place and our experiences.  And I believe the elephant is now officially out of room.

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