I was in Goražde last weekend. It’s a cute provincial town in East Bosnia. Many would say a forgotten one. Forgotten by the state that doesn’t invest in it and forgotten by the Bosnians who rarely visit it. I remember mentioning to an acquaintance of mine who lives in Sarajevo that I’m going to Goražde, on one of the previous occasions, and she said: What on earth are you going there for? I thought there wasn’t anything in Goražde. Well, there is!
As it’s quite common in Bosnian towns, a river dominates in the landscape of Goražde. In this case Drina, considered as one of the most beautiful rivers in the Balkans, fast, clear and powerful. It divides the city’s centre in two halves, joined by two long bridges. During the winter months, with freezing winds blowing down the stream, these become real obstacles to those who have to cross them on foot on a daily basis. But in the warm summer afternoons, I find them great for relaxing walks interrupted only by moments of staring at the slow water flow beneath. I have a fond memory of my boyfriend and me running into each others arms on one of these bridges, from the days when he served the army nearby, couple of years ago. It pops into my mind every time I step onto the bridge, making me smile all the way across it.
The right Drina’s bank is where all the reputable caffees are located. All in one street of corse. The korzo. I like Cafe M with it’s cozy chairs and romantic lanterns the most. Rush serves the best pancakes. Warm patisserie can be found at the bakery right next to the Bridge of Alija Izetbegović. I haven’t tried many restaurants, but I liked the place called Soma, a bit hidden off the main road on the left Drina’s bank, close to the city’s Gallery. It’s a pension and restaurant with nice open summer garden, serving tasty Bosnian and Italian dishes. Very cheap, too. In fact everything in Goražde is, comparing to Sarajevo and some other big towns.
As you get further from the centre, along both sides of the river, a few small buildings and colorful little houses are replaced with walking paths. River sides are friendly and easy-rechable. These present a kind of fishermen’s paradise. A bunch of trees hide the grass from sun here and there, making wonderful picnic spots where locals like to gather around roštilj (grill) in the weekends. I believe many young couples in Goražde have their very own secret romantic place there to visit during the hot summer nights, too.
During the winter, Goražde is as sleepy as any other smaller town in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But in the summer, it’s full of people. Like the Dalmatian coast, as one woman I overheard passing-by described it. It’s when many Bosnian-born foreigners visit their relatives in town and The Festival Of Friendship fills every suitable corner of Goražde with freelance singers and performers from all over the world. People of Goražde have shown to be great hosts, welcoming and always willing to help.
A bit off the main roads, certainly off the main tourist maps (which is starting to change), Goražde is a society of it’s own, very close and at the same time very open to newcomers. Friendly and unspoilt, a true piece of Bosnian soul.