As we are supposidly hosting some game event in London, and nearly everyone in the UK has had somebody jogging through their town with a flaming stick, I thought this may be of interest…
Bosnia was not what I had expected, The war stories and fairly recent historic unrest (91-95) all change your impression of what you will find. As recent as 20 years ago there was brutal fighting over the recently independent country following the collapse of Yugoslavia. There is still alot of evidence of this, especially in Sarajevo where the city was under siege for years and still full of bullet holes in the buildings. They have left these as a living monument to those that lost their lives and a reminder of that went on here.
Before the fighting, bosnia was home to the 1985 winter olympics were held here (images from google)
It is still something that the Bosnians are very proud of as even almost 30 years on, it still features heavily on maps and signs, it made me think of the British Olympics and how our perception of the games is, moreover whether we will still be talking about it in 30 years time.
The areas that I planned to visit were the bobsleigh track, the ski jump and Olympic hotel.
I had some help beforehand with locations although they were all but marked on the signposts, the road to the bobsleigh track was very windy up into the mountains, decent enough but it pushed the poor old ford focus hire car.
The track itself emerged from the trees like a massive concrete snake. Graffiti almost covered the whole inner part of it and added some colour to an otherwise grey and dull looking construction, these things are meant to be seen coated in a thick skin of white ice.
It was the acoustics which were amazing, there were a few other people around and some of them went further up the track and I could hear their voices and footsteps clearly from what may have been a 30 meters away!
It was the bends which were scarey, huge curved banks which you can imagine hurtling towards at 200mph
it must have been something else to actually see! Walking down and around which winded down and around the mountain to the base where there were ruins of what would have probably been snack shops and facilities.
The ski jump would probably be the last sporting event that I would sign up for, throwing yourself down a sheer edge to a ramp below on a couple of bits of wood just isn’t my thing. Abandoned and in the summer months, the ski jump looked even more out of place – like some sort of military launch facility. It was bad enough being at the bottom of the ramp looking up ( it was too hot to hike to the top )
There were 2 jumps of different lengths, huge sweeps of concrete against the lush mountain. The drop below was almost sheer with a small amphitheatre below where the skiers would land.
Not sure whether the giant billboards were to stop people karting down there or some other purpose!!
This building was used as a UN base, the markings still visible, sealed though unfortunately.
In the area below where the skiers would land, the podium still stood strong, a concrete structure in the grey and orange of the Olympic colours, recently restored as it suffered quite badly during the war!
Some of the hotels which were used in the games had been abandoned as well.
The first was at the top of one of the olympic mountains,
flanked on all sides by newer hotels and construction projects. The hotel certainly had seen better days and hardly had any glass left in it. A moody looking cloud front had closed in and the temperature had dropped this made the hotel look like something out of a horror film, the overlook hotel from the shining once you knew what went on inside it. The hotel had its own lifts, ancient compared to the newer ones in the neighbouring hotels, consisting of rusting single seats in faded colours hanging swaying in the wind between yellow posts. The harsh elements hadn’t been kind to the hotel and it was completely trashed inside.
A large bar area still looked out onto the stunning mountains below, the wood faded and broken surrounded by a carpet of broken glass. The hotel was basically just a shell,
maybe on the demolishing list judging by the other construction work but there were a few interesting things such as an empty elevator shaft and long corridors. Striking red signs warned about unexploded land mines in the area leading up to this beautiful vista, it was one of the things that I had read about and was careful not to stray too far from roads and paths. Landlines must seem like such an ideal weapon at the time of war, extremely cheap and devastating, but as soon as its over and the realisation that they were spread randomly across the countryside – they become a deadly hazard for everyone.
There was another hotel on the way to the ski jump, there were workers here and demolition was underway but this hotel had some of the most interesting angles on it that I had ever seen. The hotel was used as a headquarters during the war and there wasn’t a foot of concrete without shell damage.