Hercegovina is a remarkable region in its own right, in that it is a microcosm of the entire Balkans, and the Balkans are a microcosm of Europe. Serbians, Bosnians, and Croatians call the area home. Many people still associate Bosnia with a war that ended over 20 years ago, and as a result tourism has only recently started coming back to the area. There is a sense of inevitability with regards to the return of mass tourism, much as was the case with Croatia and Montenegro in recent years.
Winston Churchill said of the Balkans that it is an area that produces more history than it can consume, what this means for tourists such as myself is that one can delight in the ancient treasures that abound in this part of the world. Trebinje, for example, is home to Arslanagic bridge, A 500 year old Ottoman bridge commissioned by the Serbian born Grand Vizier Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic. It was designed by the same bridge builder who made the bridge in Mostar that is now recognized as a Unesco world heritage site, and dedicated it to his late son.
Hercegovina is overburdened with natural beauty as well. Only recently have the countries of the former Yugoslavia started working together to exploit these natural wonders. The non-profit Via Dinarica has developed several trails, most notably the ‘Blue Trail’, which offers hikers the opportunity to follow the ridgelines of dalmatian peaks, offering vistas of the expansive adriatic sea all the way to the Italian coast.
What I found most surprising about Trebinje was the nightlife and culture. One festival after the next take place all summer long. The Trebinje Film Festival is an appetizer to the Sarajevo Film Festival, The festival of Wine and Honey celebrates the products the region is most known for, and free music festivals attract tourists from near and far the whole summer long. The Film festival is a particularly curious affair because Trebinje has more Oscar winning actors than it does movie screens. It is a town where excellence abounds.
As for the nightlife, I came into town to check out a traditional orthodox procession which ended in a performance in the main church. The procession was all the more interesting because Hercegovinans are the tallest people on earth (average height is 1 meter 84). Imagine dozens of giants swinging ornate silver orbs in the dry evening heat of Southern Europe. After the procession the old town started bustling with music. On the upper floors of the ancient fort a dance party, in the main square some classic rock from a live band. Warm weather, big crowds, loud music, ice cream and an orthodox procession all parts of a typical night in beautiful Hercegovina.