Monday, June 26, 2017

EUROTRIP 2016 - Part 3: Kozarac, Prijedor and Banja Luka


"The name of Kozarac comes from a strong wind blowing from the Kozara canyon. This warm breeze tinkles your face and your lips turn into a serene smile."


This little place called Kozarac is such a good place to be. It is this cute town that belongs to a bigger city of Prijedor (where I was born). Even though we were once evicted from our roots (during the time of Yugoslavia, Kozarac had near 20,000 citizens), it will always be our home. Kozarac was first mentioned 1334 and it is also famous for its remains of the Kozara fortress (Kula) and the National Park Kozara. Most of all, I love to be able to call this place my birth place.

It is a home, where you can let the mind calm down while listening to the grasshoppers chirping around you, watch how fireflies fly above you against the starry night sky and let your feet rest before a short hike to the Kozara mountain the next day. It is where you can lay down in your underwear on the warm terrace floor and sip hot chocolate after a nice evening out with your friends. Once when I was still a child, I noticed that from our terrace you could see more stars than ever in Finland - and the moon, it was bigger and brighter than anywhere else.

The thousand little lights keep on twinkling on the mountains from all the houses that more or less serve nowadays as summer houses and music - it echoes from somewhere in the distance. Nowadays, there are also 15 cows chilling next to our yard. This was also the place where one magical event took place at. We were able to assist in a cow birth. It was definitely one of the most beautiful moments during last summer.

After enjoying the sunsets surrounded by all that beauty, it is usually time to go to bed and prepare for the next day. Sometimes we just hang out around the yard, visit our friends and family, cejf in the center by sipping some hot bosnian coffee and reading a book or refresh by the pool or then, just drive to surrounding cities to enjoy them as well. Once in a while, we pack up our hiking gear and some food for a day and head to the NP Kozara and its mountains by foot. I love to wake up, eat a proper breakfast - local fresh eggs, bosnian pita tikvenica,bundevaca or misiracnica depending on where you are from made with fresh squash, pancakes or bosnian version ustipci or priganice (again depending on where you are from) cooked on a griddle in the yard and some freshly squeezed lemonade. With that, it is easy to put your shoes on, take your backpack and start climbing. Usually it all takes for about 5 to 6 hours from our house without big breaks but the journey is the one that matters along with the company and the lovely views that wait for you on the top.

One of our trips to surrounding cities was a weekend trip to Banja Luka. The second biggest city in BiH. It was a wonderful day spent at Kastel Fortress, on a restaurant boat next to the beautiful Vrbas river and visiting one the most famous mosques in BiH, once demolished in 1993 and now newly reconstructed Ferhadija,which is one of the greatest achievements of  16th century Ottoman architecture in Europe. We chose not to go to the city center this time at all, but instead chose to enjoy our food and drinks on the river and the fortress. The fortress is medieval but is situated on the site of previous fortifications going all the way back to Roman and even pre-Roman times. As a history and nature junkie, I absolutely love to dig deep into the all possible corners of every place...

- Herminica

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