Pronounced "YIY-tse", for you hard-j pronouncing motherfuckers dans le monde Anglais.
Conversations with Serbs regarding Jajce, prior to visit:
Steve - I srsly need to go there, d00d
Serby - I dunno anything, cept there's a WATERFALL.
My first Bosnian experience! Hurrah! Mike stayed in Zagreb all sniffles and "I'll meet you in Sarajevo". So I flew off alone, and arrived in Jajce in the dark.
Jajce means "little egg" in Serbo-Croat-Bosniak-Montenegrinwhatever the fuck, because it's apparently built on an egg shaped rock. It's also where "Tito's Yugoslavia" was born, as he was hiding from fascist shelling in these catacombs in Jajce.
Where Yugoslavia was born:
Where Yugoslavia died:
Yep, bulletholes. I wish I could pull the "totally hard to spot" card here, but untrue! I saw that last photograph while walking into town during the dark, and I stopped there and "whoaed" for a sec, at which point I hear loudspeakers from the top of a minaret start blaring the call for 6:00 prayers throughout the fucking town, followed by some chanting. I turned around, and saw this:
Welcome to Bosnia! Remember though, it was night still. I found a guesthouse (heat-free for your pleasure!), and traipsed through the cafes in town, meeting blonde-hair-blue-eyed dudes named "Umair" and "Samir" and going to bars with a 20 to 1 male to female ratio. Some guy punched my back when I told him I was an American, and then he hugged me and bought me a drink. Bosnia is a funny place. Some night pics:
Remember that last picture.
So after some more Samiring and Umairing and coffee drinking Jajce, I went to bed. Now, when arriving at places at night, waking up the next day and walking out your guesthouse door for the first time is special - it's all in the light now, and things weren't as you initially imagined while trudging up dark alleyways trying to find a place to sleep. It's all visible in the morning, and it can be arresting. This happened to us this morning, when we walked out the door in Kotor, Montenegro and were frozen when we realized we were enveloped by mountains. In Jajce, sadly enough, I was stopped by this:
Picture immediately below was once a mosque.
That picture from the night, now in the day. Look at the building on the left.
Oh yeah, there was a war here.
No, it is not a ghost town, but in the city center, most of the buildings are either clearly renovated or new, or riddled with bulletholes and/or decimated. As I later found out, this is not unusual for most of Bosnia, which is far from totally fixed up and probably won't be in my lifetime. I didn't take pictures of the worst of it - there were lots people around, and I wasn't about to be a dick. "OOH KEWL UR TOWN IS SCARRED". And as I also later found out, DO NOT WALK INTO DECIMATED BUILDINGS, which I didn't exactly abide to. Landmines, which I thought were only in the countryside and not in abandoned buildings. "But Jajce is the countryside," I heard later in Sarajevo. But it's a tourist town? "So?" Maybe people were being paranoid, but I sure could have used that knowledge in Jajce, but as it stands now, I still have my legs, and I'm out of the Bosnia, so, umm, who's up for some non-wheelchair basketball?
I just wanted to get past that, now onto the good stuff. And there's plenty.
That ubiquitous waterfall:
Big water dude flows straight from the city. There's a reason Germans are coming here. And there's a reason you should come here too. There was a lovely frost in the morning.
From the fortress on top of the "little egg"
And here's a picture I'm proud of - I wish I had more time in Jajce. The town itself is tiny, but there are lovely lakes and antique watermills about five kilometers away, along with amazing (landmine cleared) hiking trails. Plus the Bosnians are a funny bunch - friendly in that aggressive Eastern-European way, and always ready to party (provided you're not a female, I didn't know where they were in Jajce. Oh that's right - they were at home, cooking). Oh yeah, here's that photo.
Srsly. Jajce. Rebuilding the mosques:
Old Turkish armor storage:
Pigeons in the Old City.
So yeah, I'll let the fucking pictures talk for themselves for once. And to think, I was tempted not to blog about this.
Jajce isn't exactly on the radar outside of the Balkans. If westerners know Bosnia, they know Sarajevo (for Olympics, genocide) and Mostar (bridge, Bruce Lee statue) and maybe that it has some pretty mountains or something. BUT SUCH IS NOT THE CASE, it's mountains with sheer rock cliffs, layers of karst, lush rock plants, and rivers colored turqoise. Just "pretty" ain't the term.
And when in Jajce, I had this idea - this town should be kept as it is, definitely repaired a little more, but far from being overrun with tourists and real estate speculators even though tourists flock to places 1000 times less worthy and impressive and shit-stopping as Jajce. It should stay a secret. I was thinking when I blogged about it, I wouldn't divulge the location and refer to the place pictured as "Schaumberg, Illinois."
But that's wrong, for once. I'll let this cat out of the bag, and for many reasons. But mostly because I talked to one shopkeeper for a while, and she shook my hand when she found out I came from America, and she started blabbering in half-English about which places in Bosnia I needed to see, and how this landscape was "the best gift in my life," and how Bosnian food (which we regrettably didn't get to have in a home) is "so good it kills", and how this shopkeeper offered to lock her store up and walk me around but I said no because there were people in line behind me, even though she was reaching for her keys, and as I left she said "tell your friends, return with your children after years pass." Yep.
So yeah, there you go. This is "Jajce."