A holiday trip through the Balkan countries of Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Croatia prompted me to reflect on how we manage our own society.
The ravages of war are still visible across the region and have affected towns and cities to a greater or lesser degree. The destruction of infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities sets a nation back decades and condemns its young people to a more difficult future. Belgrade, in particular, was significantly degraded by NATO bombing and the city still shows its scars.
Slovenia was largely spared conflict and its comparative prosperity is palpable. The magnificent ancient walled town of Dubrovnik was inexplicably shelled for several months and standing in awe at its now rebuilt centre prompts the visitor to reflect in horror that modern people could exhibit such barbarism.
The imminent commissioning of our sparkling new Metro trains stands in stark contrast to the 1972 built locomotive pulling our train which broke down just out of Belgrade leaving us stranded for four hours.
Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, has been accorded EU accolades for its green credentials and its public refuse collection points are a standard we should aspire too.
Charging stations for the growing number of electric vehicles are seen everywhere in the city and streets are clean and well maintained. Balkan towns and cities commonly have car free town centres with access for essential services sometimes gained by electric pop-up bollards.
An emphasis in getting people out of cars and either walking or cycling makes for a more enjoyable town centre experience and I didn’t see evidence of the obesity epidemic which is challenging our communities.
Graffiti though is as bad a blight on communities as it is here even in The Hills with Zagreb displaying graffiti and tagging on a scale I’d not previously seen. Graffiti diminishes the entire community if left unchecked.
Travel reaffirms that we all share common desires - to raise, feed, clothe and educate our children for a life better than that which we have enjoyed.
We are very fortunate to live in an area like The Hills and should never take what we have for granted. An orderly, safe, harmonious and prosperous society is a precious thing.