Hello All! I am currently 2 months into my journey with one month left to go. I am In the incredible country of Bosnia currently. After Kotor, we went to Dubrovnik where we only stayed two nights. I can say that Dubrovnik was quite an incredible city with a massive old town but I cannot say it was the best experience. Dubrovnik is what I would consider a bit too touristy. Due to the heavy tourism, prices are incredibly expensive and walking around the old town is very difficult to the sheer amount of people walking around. I understand I am a tourist just like every other foreigner that comes to the city and other popular cities, but when tour group after group comes packing down the streets, when you are just trying to walk around and enjoy the city, it can really kill the experience.

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Nonetheless, the coast of Croatia is absolutely stunning and I did in fact have a good time there. I wouldn’t visit dubrovnik again during peak season as it is now but it would be cooler to see in the spring or fall.

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Me and Ella took a bus┬áto Mostar, Bosnia from Dubrovnik. This will be our last stop together as she will be meeting her dad in Croatia. I had no expectations of Bosnia, and I knew hardly anything about the place or the people or the war. If you didn’t know, there was a horrific war for control of Bosnia in 1992-1995. I say this because I knew hardly nothing about the war and highly consider researching it as it is very intriguing and so recent. When I say recent, I mean there are literally bullet holes peppered into the side of buildings that have not been replaced or fixed. You can see the war in this city, and you can see the impact to the people.

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While the next thing I talk about may come off possibly different to some people back home, I would just like to elaborate on some thoughts of mine and how my eyes have further been opened up here in Bosnia.

I went on a tour that is put on by my hostel yesterday. The man who runs the tour also owns the hostel and is a survivor from the war. His name is Miran and he is an amazing man.

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I’ve realized a good side to communism that I have never seen before. Growing up in America and learning about history, and the cold war, communism is taught to be the worst thing that could ever happen to a nation. I grew up with the mindset of communism being a terrible thing, and while I didn’t think much of it, that’s what I knew. Ive learned now that that is not the case. Yes, the Soviet Union was bad, yes communism has had very negative effects in such countries, but so has capitalism. That is what I am seeing today. I have traveled the Balkan countries in southeast Europe for 2 and a half weeks now and I can tell you one thing, ever since communism has collapsed in these countries its been hell. The economy is terrible, the people are bitter, no one has jobs (50% unemployment just in Bosnia), and there’s no signs of it getting better. This has been this way since 1992. Capitalism has not been nice and there is absolutely no room for growth. All most of the countries have is tourism to support the people. That is 3 months out of the year then the rest of the year they have nothing. Everything’s closed. When these countries had communism they thrived. People were happy, they lived normal lives, they got paid vacations and healthcare and support. Now they are poor and struggling. I can’t go in depth with the situation because there are many things even I do not know about the situation here. I just wanted to express my disappointment in myself for being so close minded regarding communism.

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The second thing I am very annoyed about is my views on muslims. I have always been one to try to accept anyone but until this trip I have never had a chance to encounter a muslim population or speak to people who are muslims. A sheltered person like me thought previously, oh muslim means taliban like in the middle east which means terrorist. While I never thought all muslims were bad they always had a bad taste in my mouth simply because I only ever heard one side of the situation and based my opinions on stereotypes. Bosnia is a large muslim country. Many of the muslims here are not very religious but nonetheless there are a lot of muslims. Nothing about the way these people live their lives or act is wrong. In fact most the people who run the hostel are muslims and I would have never been able to tell. They are such kind and amazing people. As its became clear to me, there are extremist muslims in the middle east which do horrible things. You however cannot relate those people to these. Because no where in their religion does it say to do those horrible things and even they don’t understand it. My eyes have been open up on religion throughout this trip and its sad I even had negative opinions of the people.

Id like to say these are realizations based on my previous thoughts, and in no way am I saying these things in a way that people reading did not already understand what I have realized. I am just glad I have now opened my eyes to two topics that I never really cared or knew much about. The experiences like this are what I came to Europe for and they are worth more than all of the time and money I could ever give to traveling.

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Oh and here is us in a cave behind a waterfall!

So Ella has gone off to Split, Croatia and tonight I go further into Bosnia to visit Sarajevo. I hope to make it to Italy soon, so after Sarajevo I will be working my way back to Croatia and find a way to get to Italy.

-ColeB

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