When I was a teenager, one of my boyfriends gave me a small watercolour that he had painted himself from a picture in a magazine. It was the Old Bridge (Stari Most) in Mostar, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which has soared over the River Neretva since 1566, connecting the east and west of the city. Ever since then I have wanted to visit and see it for real - and then twenty years ago, you will remember, it was destroyed during the Balkan wars. I thought then that I had missed my chance. It has, however, been faithfully rebuilt, together with the ancient streets around it, and now stands as a symbol of peace. I can't tell you how moved I was to actually stand on it.
The city of Mostar itself is a ruggedly beautiful place, still bearing the scars of conflict. You can even now see some burnt-out and shrapnel-scarred buildings, some left deliberately perhaps, as a reminder of the pain and futility of war. There are also exhibitions and videos on display that stand as a sharp reminder of all that the city has suffered, under siege for eighteen months. (I saw some memorable photos by Wade Goddard who lived with a family in the city during the seige - see here. The one of the little girl riding her bike through the rubble will stay with me forever.)
To take this photo, I dared myself to climb to the top of the minaret of the Koski Mehmed Pasa Mosque. The top platform was inches deep in rainwater so it's a miracle this picture turned out sharp. I was shaking with the exertion of the climb up the rough spiral staircase, and with my fear of heights! And standing on tip-toe to avoid the water. It was worth it for the view though.