Do you know which one is one of the best part of living in Timisoara? Yes, of course the city is cool, full of tourists, attractions, students and so on. However, try to see Timisoara on the map. Do you note something? Yes, Timisoara is exactly in the middle of East Europe. What does it means? It means that you can travel more or less everywhere! Therefore, we can say that Timisoara is strategically perfect for the travelers.
Going on the west, northwest and southeast, you can discover all Romania. The best cities of the Country, Cluj Napoca, Sibiu, Bucarest, Baia Mare, all the Transilvania, the Carpathian and very far there is Costanza, which means Black Sea! Yes the sea… if there is some bad points of living in Timisoara, the worst one is for sure the distance from the sea. Think about me: I am Italian born and grown up on the coast, with the perfume of the sea inside and on my clothes, used to breathe the smell of the beaches every day. To arrive at the Black sea, I have to travel 805 km, 10 hours by train. The missing of the sea, after 4 months and a half is starting to be a problem here. Yes, because I am southern Italian guy, and I need the sea!
This is because, just few weeks ago, with other volunteers form Europe, located in different cities in Romania, we did our first hitchhiking trip. Direction? Vama Veche, Black Sea! Problem fixed!
Ok, now let’s come back to Timisoara, and let’s see what is waiting for us on the other side of the map. From my point of view the best part: the Balkan Countries. In just few hours by train, you can arrive in the old Capital of Yugoslavia, Belgrade. I have already been there 3 times in my life, and the best part of the city is Kalemegdan Park, located in Belgrade Fortress on the hill. I really love this place because from this hill you can see one of the best things that nature can give us. The Sava is a European East river, that runs through four countries, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia. After 945 km it meets the Danube, the most important European river, in a natural and simple way so that you do not realize that in front of you there are two different rivers, and mostly you don’t realize which one is the Sava a
nd which one is the Danube. Here in Serbia they call this meeting, the “kiss of Danube”. It almost seems that there is a silent and mutual respect for each other. If only humans were able to cross over and be integrated, especially after traveling hundreds of kilometers fleeing war and misery, in the same respectful manner in which nature crosses herself, surely we would live in a more beautiful world.
Crossing the next border, there is Bosnia and Herzegovina and it’s awesome capital, Sarajevo. Sarajevo is objectively one of the most beautiful cities I have seen in my life, maybe because it has an Ottoman past, maybe because here coexist Muslim, Orthodox, Jews and Catholics but the city lives in an atmosphere that I have rarely felt in other places. I think it is one of the few cities in Europe where within a few meters you can find synagogues, mosques, Catholic and Orthodox churches. Here you feel the scent of multiculturalism and it is no coincidence that one of his mottos is “Sarajevo meeting of cultures”. It is no accident that in the ol
d town are no large multinationals; it is no coincidence that the first McDonald is located well off the tourist center.
Then I decide to turn away a bit from the historical center of the city, and I start to realize that some buildings are covered with strange holes on the walls. I keep walking and I realize that you can f
ind them in almost all buildings and the walls surrounding the old town alleys and realize that those holes are nothing more than the remains of four years of bullets fired daily and nonstop.
I keep walking, I reach a hill overlooking the city from above, and the first thing I notice from the breathtaking panorama, are 3 large white patches. Those white patches are three memory cemeteries. There are nearly 12,000 white tombstones. For nearly four years Sarajevo suffered the greatest military siege in modern history, an illogical and bastard war, starting by patriotic and nationalist sentiments who destroyed a wonderful countries, the Balkans, full of mountains, rivers, lakes and history. A European war happened during the building of European Union; a war unknown to most because it was ignored by the major Western countries and by the European and international economic interests.
Sarajevo and the Bosnian today get up with determination and go forward due to the respect for differences and the meeting of cultures; but the destroyed national library, the remains of bullets on buildings, the 3 large white spots that surround the city and the countless plaques dedicated to the victims scattered throughout the neighborhoods, remain. Those remain to serve as a reminder of their past suffering and courage shown in the following years. However they still firmly believe in integration, acceptance and multiculturalism; and serve as a warning to Europe to remind her that nationalist ideologies produce only hatred, intolerance, isolation and massacres.
Which one is the next step of the trip? Wait me for the next article, in the meantime I will try to discover other places, other stories… if they will be located at the sea, they will be perfect!