03 June 2012

A day in Banja Luka

Playing chess in the heart of Banja Luka
We took things quietly for our Saturday in Banja Luka.    The main part of the town is quite modern.  There's a wide main street with the main civic buildings as well several squares and small parks adjoining it.   Many of the shops are quite modern, but we were reminded when we passed by the Saturday morning market that life isn't easy for everyone.    Some of the vendors were selling very small items, such as little items of hardware and batteries, from just a small stand.

There are lots of cafes where you can pass the time having a drink, a coffee and a smoke (not necessarily in that order!), but restaurants seem few and far between.   In the mid-range, there are a couple of pizza places, but otherwise, as far as we have been able to tell, your best mid-range option is to have a small course at a full service restaurant.    And Banja Luka must be the first city I've ever been in where there is not one Chinese restaurant (nor any Thai, Indian or other such).  If they're here, they're not readily apparent.  Nor have I seen a single exchange booth (all pervasive in Belgrade), although there are lots of banks and ATMs.
Main street Banja Luka

Castle wall
We walked around the old castle.  It's not in very good condition, and  inside the walls, at one end,  is a children's playground.  At the other end, a stage was being set up - it seems that another concert is planned for the near future (but there was a fence around it, so presumably payment is required).

After lunch at one of the restaurants by the river, we visited the  Museum of the Republika Srpska.

  This contains a comprehensive display of the history of the area, from the cave man era through to the recent conflicts.   There were numerous items of clothing from various eras.  Some of the comments on WW2 very hard-hitting, and the displays on the more recent conflicts were pretty frank, too.   Only some of the descriptions were in English, but for me there wasn't any doubt as to the perspective that the historians involved were coming from!
Lunch venue

Now (Sunday) we're off to Sarajevo.
Museum display
Museum display

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