It is said that even if you are feeling like a stranger in your hometown and while travelling around the world, that somehow here you will find a warm, welcoming place to laugh, to cry, to express your non-understandable way of living, the beauty of all that has happened, find friends, soulmates. This city has an incredibly contagious energy, and upon being there, you will feel so light, at ease, at home, no matter where you are coming from. The generous people will welcome you with such a warm hearted attitude that you will wonder why you haven't been here yet. Allow me to present you this precious gem called Banja Luka.
I recall Banja Luka, which I have visited decades ago, as a picturesque city of Republika Srpska. The city lies on the River Vrbas and is well known in the countries of the former Yugoslavia for being full of tree-lined avenues, boulevards, gardens and parks as well as the most delicious specialty in the region - cevapi. The most authentic Banjalucki Cevap can be found only in this city.
Banja Luka has rather moderate climat, with mild winters and very warm, sunny summers so basically any time of the year is a great choice to visit this city and the region. Another thing that makes this destination so amazing is that it is easily reachable by bus from big capitals such as Sarajevo, Belgrade, Zagreb but also there is a Banja Luka International Airport, only 20 km away from the city center.
Due to the incredibly rich history and origin, about which of course you can learn about in detail prior to your arrival, there is a vast number of monuments that are simply a must see like for instance Cathedral of Saint Bonaventure, built from the 19th centur; Christ the Saviour Cathedral, an Orthodox Christian church; Banski Dvor (Governor’s Palace), a concert hall and gallery in the center of the city; and many more. If you feel like taking a coffee break, check out Veselin Maslesa street, the main street with shops and cafes, which you should definitely visit during the weekend.
It is a sin to talk about Banja Luka and not to mention the decadent gastronomy. If you like meat, you'll love Banja Luka as meat is a standard for any meal. A few of the most delicious traditonal meals are cevapi, small meat sausages from beef, usually served with fresh onions and a bun called lepinja. Banjalucki cevap usually consists of quadrangular pieces of meat. So when you are there, it is a crime not to try it along with musaka, punjene paprike, burek, sarma, mladi sir i kajmak, about which I will most certainly write in the articles to come. Trust me, it is a love at first bite.
After all, I believe this almost foggy memory of mine is enough of a reason to embark on a journey and visit this lovely, homey and warm Balkan city. I am pretty sure you will fall in love with the region and decide to come back again and again, whether it is because of the people, atmosphere, climat, music, food or simply the feeling you will have when there. I know I will come back for sure. I promise I will keep you updated on many more travelling inspirations to come.
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