Down in the city below small groups of young tourists are wandering through the old town part of Sarajevo, its stone-lined Turkish streets named after the crafts that are still carried out there, copper and leather workers tapping with hammers.
And in the Cafe Rahatlook owner Snjezana Nezirovic serves home-made cakes and jams in bespoke clay teapots and cups and saucers. We get hot drinks of salep, a soup-thick spiced tea made with flour from the ground tubers of orchids. It smells like Christmas in a cup. Nezirovic is fiercely proud of her enterprise. Her take-home tins have a flower and berry graphic that would look at home in any Avoca. At one table, instead of a chair, a wooden swing hangs from the ceiling.
On a city tour we get some of the layers of stories that live in this small walkable city. Painters on scaffolding are finishing the restoration of the burnt-out national library, the symbol of Sarajevo’s 1990’s siege. But the building was once the city hall where Archduke Franz Ferdinand spoke before he was assassinated a short distance away, shot by the 19-year-old Serb Gavrilo Princip, when the archduke’s driver took a wrong turn.
Princip’s wide-eyed sepia portrait is on the spot of the assassination, which sparked the first World War. We hear how the city was a test place for the tram system before the trams were introduced in Vienna, so Sarajevo had the new-fangled contraptions two months before they arrived on to Viennese streets. At the Catholic cathedral in the city centre the priest tells us they christened the son of an Irish army major a week earlier.
As a tourist destination Bosnia has had some breaks recently. National Geographic named it one of the top 10 adventure destinations, based on a mountain-biking trail along the old caravan route or silk roads. Driving from Sarajevo to Mostar you see the storybook beauty of the countryside, with its thick deciduous and pine forests on steep mountain sides.
There are signs for rafting centres. Every house seems to have a vegetable garden and a neatly-stacked wood pile. And finally you reach the valleys of southern Bosnia where lush wide valleys lie between dramatic stoney mountains. It’s a bit like the Burren with vineyards.
The south around Mostar has a Mediterranean climate. A savagely hot summer has (of course) broken as soon as the journalists arrive to torrents of rain. On a visit to the Vukoje vineyard near Trebinje we stand in the winery with its cool brick-lined cellar filled with huge oak casks and dusty bottles. “This is where all of our wines are leading their quiet lives,” Julijana Vukasinovic tells us.