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Our man Bills on his way to Bosnia

Created on 15/04/2012 @ 08:23
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Today we start a series of articles as a Welshpool man sets off on an adventure to Bosnia.

John Bills is on his way to work in a hostel in a country attempting to rebuild after a horrible war and attract tourists to a beautiful and undiscovered part of the world.

You'll be able to follow John's incredible journey in his regular column for MyWelshpool.

They say that everything starts with an introduction, so this will be no different. My name is John Bills, I'm 26 years old and I spent the first 21 years of my life living and learning in Welshpool.
I went to Gungrog Nursery School, Maes y Dre Primary School and then Welshpool High School. I played football for Waterloo Rovers and cricket for Welshpool town.
I mean, I spent the majority of my life living across the road from the Grapes and just three doors down from Elwyn Davies! It's fair to say that I am a Welshpool man, I always will be a Welshpool man, and that will never change.
Regardless of how many silly one way systems are brought into the town, I can still walk from Salop Road to the train station with my eyes closed. Literally. (I genuinely did that once).
My parents moved to the town 28 years ago, and a new generation of Bills kids in Welshpool has continued with my sister's daughter. Whenever have met people whilst travelling I have never hesitated to say that I'm from Welshpool, as opposed to going with the bigger picture of 'Wales', and this is because I am proud to be where I am from.

Still, you can't stay in one place forever, and where I am now is not Welshpool. It's not Wales. It's not even Great Britain. I'm currently on a train in Rijeka, Croatia, waiting to depart towards Ljubljana in Slovenia.
For those who aren't great with geography, I'm in the Balkans, which is jammed in between Italy, Russia and Greece in the south eastern part of Europe. For want of a better term, older readers will recognise that I am in the former Yugoslavia. I'm travelling towards Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where I will work in a hostel as I have done in the past, in a country that is still rebuilding itself after a horrible war. A country that is still relatively undiscovered to the average tourist, and is even considered off-limits to some.
The aim of this series of pieces is to try and give a different, truer to life picture of Bosnia, as opposed to the most frequent one which is a picture of blood, violence and hatred. That was the Bosnia I saw when I was 8 years old. It was the Bosnia I assumed when I was 21. It is not the Bosnia I know today.
The Bosnia I know today is a country of absolutely unbelievable beauty, passion, kindness, vitality and excitement. It is a country full of the friendliest people, the most gorgeous countryside and the very best coffee I have ever drank in my entire four years of drinking the stuff.
The rivers are blue, the mountains are snow tipped, the valleys are green and the people are alive. By alive I don't mean living, I mean ALIVE in the most intense version of the word.
These are people who have experienced what for you and me is practically unimaginable, and they have come out of the other side more in love with life than can surely be possible.
But this is very much getting ahead of myself. Before I arrive in Mostar I have six weeks in a hostel in Belgrade, Serbia. Serbia is another place that suffers from the same assumption that Bosnia-Herzegovina does, it suffers from the same reputation as a messed up place full of violently angry people.
Again, that isn't the Serbia that I know and love, and over the next few weeks I'll show you the real Serbia, the Serbia that goes out of it's way to make sure everything is absolutely superb for you.
I suppose that means that the title of this shouldn't yet be 'Bills in Bosnia', but more 'Bills in the Balkans'. Either way, the train is moving, and I've got some sleeping to catch up on. Until next time, vidimos se!
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