03 June 2012

Friday evening in Banja Luka

This is a very complicated part of the world, with a great deal of history and a very raw recent past.    I'll confine my comments to the present.    And in that respect, I can say without fear of contradiction that the long European tradition of promenading in the streets in the evening is definitely alive and well in Banja Luka - with a very modern edge!

After checking in, we went looking for the river.  Not unexpectedly, I led us off in the wrong direction, but we were soon put right when we enquired.  What's more, the generous lady then gave us a lift!   She also mentioned that the stage being set up in the main square was for Zdravko Colic to give a live concert that evening!

River Vrbas running at capacity

At the river we enjoyed a pleasant snack and drink.  There has been a lot of rain here in recent weeks, and the river was swollen and running very fast.   While we were on the deck, looking across at the castle, yet more rain came down.

We then returned to the hotel to freshen up and then when we ventured out at dusk, it was all happening!    The rain had cleared up, there were brides emerging from the town hall (presumably having been married!), gypsy bands were serenading them and seemingly the whole town out and about on the square and in the streets, taking it all in, enjoying life in the numerous cafes on the footpaths and in the arcades and alleyways, talking, mingling, having a good time and all in a good natured, friendly spirit.  We had a lovely meal (once we found a restaurant that was serving food), then spent some time listening with the crowd to the concert.    The thousands of people in the crowd knew the words of Zdravko Colic's songs and were joining in!    Sue stayed in the crowd for longer than me, but it was after midnight when things ended with a bang - literally, as there was a fireworks display!

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