It is rare these days that I get to do a new country, but having been lucky enough to attend a music festival in Prijedor, the famous city of murals, I was already in love with country 143 for me Bosnia.
We’d spent a few days of heavy partying in Prijedor but decided that it would be at least polite to do a little sightseeing in the capital of the Republika Srpska – the Serb part of the federation that is Bosnia & Herzegovina.
As someone who lives in China, most villages trump what Europeans call cities, and Banja Luka did not disappoint in that respect. It is a very small garden-like city, with “downtown” being a very quaint affair, with outside markets selling tourist crap (I got a Tito and Gavrilo Princip t-shirt), and just a relaxed vibe that helped continue our new love affair with Bosnia (or at least the Serbian part).
There was lots of tourist crap to be done, there are war memorials, there are government buildings, but it was also 36 degrees and we had bags, so via the outdoor food market we ended up heading to the Kastel Fortress of Banja Luka, not for historical jollies, but because it had a nice restaurant you understand.
Serbians are generous to a fault and our local host insisted on buying us a traditional Bosnian meal. Never turn down hospitality.
Let’s talk food (it is kinda what this blog is about).
I started with drinks (obviously), and got a bottle of “Cockta” a Slovenian made coke variant formed in the 1950s because Yugoslavia couldn’t get a coke. It is by far a superior product that I will be blogging about later! Of course, man cannot live on Cockta alone, so I also got a shot (actually I ended up having 4) of Gentleman Jack – at 3 Euro a pop, you really cannot go wrong. Food in Banja Luka is cheap!
Our host then ordered 3 AMAZING dishes!
All accompanied with photos and explanation.
The first one which my friend described as “baby cow under a bell” featured fatty bits of indeed baby cow and were fatty and succulent. The dish is known as teletina ispod sada.
The second dish looks like hamburger and chips, which it kind of was, but is actually known as Banjaluki cevapi, or cevapi from Banju Luka. A Balkan staple, with the main difference being the cevapi is not cut into shreds.
My favourite of all of them was teleci medaljoni, which were medallions of pork, on medallions of potato, covered to the brim with cheese. I ask thee! What is not to like about that?
And let’s see the Cockta and Gentleman Jack!
We only spent 4 hours in Banja Luka before boarding our private Uber type mini-bus which was going to cost us 50 Euro to get home. I’d have loved to have stayed longer, but I also know that Bosnia is the kind of country I will be returning to.
As for the journey back? It seems we were not the only ones traveling from Bosnia back to Serbia. We waited for two hours at the border.
Never have I seen a sadder site of two places that not all that long ago were part of the same country.
We miss you SFR Yugoslavia…….
Gareth Johnson is the founder of Young Pioneer Tours, a published writer, and all round entrepreneur. He enjoys street food, and encourage others to get paid to travel the world.