Monday, 9 November 2009


I've been in a bit of a bleh recently. Call it the arrival of winter with cold and mud and the need to be inside a lot more. Call it having a lot of work to do and not the energy or impetus to get started. Call it the arrival of the annual winter shoe dilemma - summer sandals so easy, winter shoes, well, I never find any that I like and actually want to wear. Anyhow, I decided that I needed a new look. A make-over. Something to lift me out of the blahs and into the yays! As I can't fit into any of the clothes that they sell here (being just ever so slightly larger than the microscopic size 8 (US 4) that all Bosnian women appear to be), a new look for my blog is the closest that I get to a new image. So, here we are, unveiling it now. Do you like it?

I've also been busy hosting people who are new to Bosnia over the last week. They were surprised by the country, it wasn't anything like they thought it would be. I suspect they were expecting something from TV in the early 1990s; refugees, mud and bad early 1990s haircuts (conveniently forgetting their own bad early 1990s haircuts) and big men in uniforms. But the war finished nearly 14 years ago and Bosnians have gone back to their proper lives. The country is far removed from its war time image. I feel that perhaps it is not just me needing an image overhaul. So, to celebrate the new Brits In Bosnia look is my attempt to reset a (very) few people's perception of the country I present 5 things about Bosnia that may surprise you with apologies to readers in Bosnia who already know all of this (and please do add comments should you feel that I have missed anything out).

1. The Bosnians are glamorous. Not just a little bit glamorous but really, really glamorous. They have style (a tad Russian Oligarch girlfriend for my liking if I am being brutally honest) and they are not afraid to dress up. The women are slim, tall with legs that go on for months. They are made up, coiffured (it is not for nothing that there are more hairdressers near us than, well, anything else). They walk with elegance and they are out to be seen. The men are also pretty groomed. No one goes out without looking their best. This makes it interesting for me at picking the boys up from nursery. The other Mummys are yummy. Very yummy. I'm usually wondering what happened to my hair brush, have just about found a pair of matching shoes and have some of yesterdays dinner smeared onto my clothes somewhere. I so let the side down. Luckily I get away with it for being British and perpetuating the idea that we are a nation of bad food and slightly bizarre characters.

2. There may well be areas of the country which are predominantly Muslim, but this is not a state dominated by Islam. I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen a fully covered woman in Bosnia. There are a fair few who wear a headscarf and who also have the most amazingly beautiful clothes and always look amazing (see point 1 above). Most people seem to be Muslim in the same way that I am Christian, in other words it informs my culture but not very active on the actually going to worship front. Alcohol is widely available and consumed freely and with enthusiasm by pretty much everyone, Muslim or not. The Bosnians don't go in for the enormous mosques prevalent in the Middle East, their mosques are small, intimate, very much for local communities and terribly pretty.

3. It is a beautiful country. There are rivers, forests and mountains and huge areas of natural space that have been virtually untouched. It has the last remaining primeval forest in Europe. It really is a place to go if you want get out, into the wilderness. All I can say is that you should go and look at the website for Green Visions who organise eco-tours of BiH (and lobby the Bosnian politicians to encourage them to protect their natural environment). There is Olympic standard skiing here, on 2 different mountains; Jahorina and Bjelasnica both only 20 minutes from Sarajevo. The natural parks are spectacular, the rivers wild, the country green.

4. Sarajevo is a great city. It has a world famous film festival every August. It has jazz festivals, winter festivals and music festivals. It is so great that it has actually been names as one of the Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2010 Top 10 Cities. Whilst we are talking top 10 lists, eating lamb off the spit over looking the emerald green Neretva river just outside of Jablanica has also been claimed to be one of the top 10 dining experiences you will ever have. I can't find that list now, but I promise you, the lamb is awesome. Tuzla, you know I love you, but I can't quite put you as one of the top 10 list of anything, but your new Square which some people have claimed will be one of the most visited squares in Europe is pretty good. I have to say you have some competition with that particular claim, but no doubt about it, trg Sloboda* is a fine place to watch the Tuzlans go by, strutting their stuff and looking most fine.

5. Bosnia is European. It was obviously strongly influenced by the Ottoman Empire and as such there are a number of times when the country looks almost Turkish, but the buildings are Austro Hungarian. The country looks and feels like Europe. Eastern Europe certainly, especially when you find yourself in an area with a particularly communist feel to it, but it is most definitely and unmistakenly Europe.

*I think this is a web cam for trg Sloboda. If you click on it and happen to see 2 small boys on scooters and a particularly harassed bag lady pursuing them, that is probably us. We'll try to wave.


London City Mum said...

I like, I like very muchly!

And great new square - I see what you mean now by somewhere for Tuzlans to go and 'strut their stuff'. Loads of space!


gaelikaa said...

I like your new look; it's lovely. I'm going through a transition phase over on mine right now. I found a look I thought I liked but many of my readers can't see my text so it's back to basics...(groan!).

I liked your articles on Bosnia. People have so many preconceived notions that India is full of poor and full of slums (thanks Hollywood!) and it really is up to expat bloggers like us to give the real picture.

A very worthwhile post! It should be widely read!

Maria xxx :)

Very Bored Housewife said...

Liking it a lot, looks great.

Kathryn said...

The new look is GREAT!!!

TheMadHouse said...

Love the new look. It is me sadly that needs a makeover let alone the blog!!

Teacher Mommy said...

It's fabulous! And now I want to visit Bosnia. I think you might also be a major attraction over there.

nappy valley girl said...

Great new look, congratulations!

And very interesting stuff about Bosnia. Somehow I never imagined the women would be glamorous - I imagine Eastern Europe to be full of blue eyeshadow and stonewashed jeans. Sarajevo sounds fabulous, too.

Dino said...

Hi Emily!

I absolutely love the makeover-it looks a lot better then it did before!

I also like the 5 points you made about Bosnia-I think they are all pretty much spot on.

On the note of the last primeval forest, have you visited Sutjeska National Park yet? (where the forest is located).

If you havn't I highly reccomend visiting. If your Serbocroatian is good, you can either ring or email one of the hotels there (we booked ourselevs into Hotel Mladost in Tjentište) and request a guide to take you through Perućica (the name of the primeval forest) and take you to see Maglić (the tallest mountain in B & H). The hotel will then provide a guide and they will tell you when your guide will meet you at the hotel reception. (You can't go through Perućica unless you have a guide with you).

If your Serbocroatian isn't good, then you are probably better off booking through Green Visision, BUT when we were at the hotel all the staff seemed to speak good English so you might still be ok with ringing them up directly.

Here are some pictures from when we went there this August. It's a facebook link but I've made the album public so you can still look at all the pictures. Enjoy!

Iota said...

I like the new look. Nice soft colour and I like the header. Did you design it yourself?

And I like the 5 tips too.

Liz (LivingwithKids) said...

I really like the makeover - and thank you for the insights into Bosnia. As you know I used to know quite a few people from Yugoslavia... I should really visit Bosnia some day.

Mwa said...

Lovely new look. Good luck with the bleh. Take care of yourself!

Alice said...

love the new look ... and Bosnia is on my wish list ... my oh my it's getting long!!!

Toni in Ithaca said...

Hi, Em. I always feel like I'm late commenting because of the time difference. The trg is so much better than seven years ago! Now we don't have to pick our way tippy-toe over the crumbling infrastructure. We will be thinking of you in the depth of winter navigating the icy UN-shoveled walkways of Tuzla. Keep your head down! (In 2000 when we were told that we didn't know if it was because of marauding former soldiers or the sidewalk trippers).

Catharine Withenay said...

I want to visit!
(For one brief moment in that post I thought you were offering a prize for a family of four to visit ... shame, eh!)
Great look for the blog as well.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

LCM - the new square is great. Have a look one summers evening and you shall see people out looking their best.

Gaelikka - it is amazing how different preconceived notions and reality can be. I've never been to India, but would love to come - and looking forward to seeing your new look too. I still have someway to go with mine, bit of tinkering here and there, but if I waited until I finished we'd be back frmo Bosnia.

VBH - thanks. Nowhere near as lovely as yours though, which I do like very much.

Kathryn - next step word press? Yours looks good so I'm feeling inspired.

MH - tell me about it. Went out on Sat night and felt ever so dowdy and bleh. We should campaign for a mummy blogger make over session, Trinny and Susanna style. I feel I need it!

TM - Come and visit! Not sure the bag lady shouting at her children in the corner is much of an attraction though.

NVG - that is exactly what I thought before we came. But no. They are very very glamorous. And the average Bosnian is way better dressed and takes far more care of their appearence than the average Brit.

Dino - thanks and thanks for the link! Always good to see some photos.

Iota - No - way out of my technical capacities. Tara from Sticky Fingers has a friend Paul who will do them for you, and he is GREAT! I'm still playing with it, but if I waited until it was done we'd be back from Bosnia before I got it up.

Mwa - the old bleh are so boring. Hope you have banned them with your trip!

Alice - Come to Bosnia, you European traveller. How did you miss it the first time round?

Toni - the UN don't do the shovelling now. Very much the Bosnians. Sometimes they are quick on the draw, sometimes they, well, we slip around for a bit! I think the trg is going to be very icy come the winter!

CW - come and visit anyway! If I had the money I'd offer the prize. Wonder if I could convince the Bosnian tourist office to stump up some cash to raise awareness of Bosnia as a tourism spot by offering a prize? Liking the idea...

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

You look very glamorous in your new blog-togs.

Sarah said...

"Luckily I get away with it for being British and perpetuating the idea that we are a nation of bad food and slightly bizarre characters."

Playng for the same team here in Italy LOL.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Paradise. Thanks!

Sarah - glad it just isn't me. I haven't the energy to do the glamour thing every day (er... any day?) life is too short! It must be the same in Italy. Thank god for being British, no one expects much from us!