gmhTODAY 10 gmhToday Sept Oct 2016 - Page 94

A walk around the top of the wall gave us magnificent views of the harbor, the islands off the mainland, the tiled rooftops and quaint gardens within, and the tram to the top of the nearby mountain. From this mountaintop, the Croats held the Serbian forces at bay in the early 1990’s and kept the city from falling into Serbian hands. Fresh well-prepared seafood is plentiful at the local restaurants, and there are plenty of shops in which to pick up souvenirs, jewelry, artwork or just browse at our leisure. The next day, we were able to go by bus to Montenegro just a few hours south along a well maintained and popular road- way which took us through one border crossing checkpoint. Montenegro’s scenic coastline is dotted with historic cities but our destinations, the Bay of Kotor, the ancient village of Perast and the medieval walled town of Kotor, were by far the most stunningly beautiful. Near Perast, we visited the Lady of the Rock shrine. The shrine, which sits on a man-made island, is of great local religious significance, and 94 is filled with artifacts, paintings and local memorabilia. From there, we went by boat across the Bay of Kotor to the popular tourist destination of Kotor’s Stari Grad or Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with ancient churches, former aristo- cratic mansions, charming restaurants and quaint shops lining its cobbled streets. Our local guide was living proof that Montenegro is home to some of the tallest men in the world,and his good looks won the admiration of all the women in the group. He provided us with a very good history of the town, its historic buildings, and tales about the local celebrities. After a delicious lunch highlighting exquisite local seafood, a few of us took the trail up to the top of the mountain and enjoyed stupendous views overlooking the Bay. The next destination, Bosnia and Herzegovina, was the most historically impactful because of the struggles and atrocities suffered in the recent Serbian War (1991-1995) (Google uses the term Yugoslav Wars and the dates (1991-1999). We traveled by bus up the coastline, through the border crossing checkpoint, GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 along the very brief section of Adriatic shoreline within Bosnia, and then inland towards our ultimate destination of Sarajevo. We made two stops, one in Blagaj to see the impressive spring that comes out of the mountain to create the Buna River, and the other in Mostar to see the Old Town and the 16th Century Bridge that was destroyed in 1993 during the breakup of Yugoslavia. The bridge is a scenic won- der and has been beautifully restored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sarajevo flourished for centuries as a multicultural haven where Muslims, Serbs, Croats, Turks, Jews and others co-existed. It is well known as the host city for the 1984 Olympics, but also for the chaos it experienced in the three-and-a-half years it was surrounded and under siege by Serbian army troops in the Yugoslav Wars of the early 1990’s. The signs of war are still prevalent in the bullet-riddled build- ings, and the mortar-marred sidewalks, buildings and pavement. In the historic area of Sarajevo, some of the mortar shell- ing sites where people were killed are marked with red paint to remind tourists gmhtoday.com