Impressions of Banja Luka.
I think that my views on both living here in the Western Balkans, and the greater Banja Luka area in particular, are quite well known.
I am a fan.
I have decided to ask relatives, friends, and other visitors I invite, to give their thoughts and impressions of their time here.
In a way, a form of “guest post”, both here on the “Banja Luka Blog” and “An Englishman in the Balkans“.
These posts will be pretty irregular and random.
We start with Rob and Aly.
Two “Brits” who are based in Kitzbühel, Austria. They are enthusiastic mountain bikers and seasoned hikers.
“My partner and I spent a very enjoyable week at the beginning of October exploring Banja Luka and the surrounding area.
We were lucky to have our friend David Bailey on hand to give a fascinating insight into the history and life in Banja Luka.
First impressions were of a bustling, accessible, well-kept city. The renovated church and mosque seem symbolic of the cultural diversity of the city, and the fact that they have both been so beautifully restored a testament to the importance of respecting every aspect of the community.
The carefully manicured park injects a welcome burst of colour into the city’s appearance.
We were very pleasantly surprised by the choice and quality of restaurants available, particularly enjoying a couple of meals at Mala Stanica, that could have graced the tables of top restaurants in London or Paris but at a fraction of the price.
Should we have wanted to indulge in bit of retail therapy there were plenty of recognizable names – we preferred to indulge in the Mouthwatering ice creams and cakes at a patisserie that was just too tempting to walk past!
Our journeys into the surrounding areas were like stepping back in time to the still functioning water mills of the Krupski Slapovi and to the countryside between Banja Luka and Laktaši, which proved to be amazing mountain biking country.
We also visited Kozara national park which had amazing views over the surrounding country – unfortunately the mountain bike trails were a little too challenging for our capabilities.
It was worth taking a hike up to the fortress above Jajce and looking down over the former capital with its impressive waterfalls.
All in all, our expectations as we crossed over the bleak border crossing into Bosnia were more than excelled”.