Miss Sarajevo

Sarajevo Travel Blog

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I was absolutely struggling with the concept of leaving Dubrovnik.
I needed to start heading North to get to Milan for my return flight.
Getting reluctantly to the bus station on my last evening I'd missed all the buses heading North except for one going into Bosnia-Hercegovina to the small town of Mostar, so my decision was easy.

And a great decision it was! I got there late and it was freezing and there was no hotels. I looked like a freak with my pack and shorts and thongs (sandles) on and everyone was staring at me like I was some crazy, lost, inappropriately dressed westerner. No one could understand why I would travel alone, in winter, through Bosnia. People were just fronting me in the streets saying all sorts of things in Bosnian and then walking off laughing. I eventually met a guy who spoke English and after following him through a series of alleys he introduced me to an old lady who had an empty basement I could stay in!! There were bombed and straffed buildings everywhere with imminent collapse signs on them. Having no idea (at the time) what the currency exchange was I got out 100Bosnian Marks ($80AU, $60US) from an ATM. I then bought a pizza and was horrified to find it only cost 1mark. Then a cappucino was the same. I was gonna be in struggletown to spend it all in 2 days!! The markets in the morning were a sight. People were selling worn shoes and oil out of old water bottles. Maimed people were crawling over the streets. And there was me with a months local salary to blow in under 2days...

I had to catch a bus now to Sarajevo. I had no info on the joint cos I hadnt planned to come here… The bus station was devoid of signs. No one spoke English and I was struggling just to find out how to get there, how much and what time..I didn’t even know where the ticket window was! I was also wandering what to do when I got to Sarajevo and how I'd find my way around. Suddenly a Kiwi girl walked up from behind me and seeing my pack said "Aussie huh?". She then proceeded to tell me not only what bus, when, and where to go for local homestay accomodation in Sarajevo but she even gave me her unused return ticket and map. Then she walked away. It was one of those moments that just happen before you can even stop to properly appreciate the incredibly fortuitous serendipity of it all. Sitting on the bus later I was incredulous as I realised that I had had every single query on my mind completely answered by a stranger who came and went from my life in less than 5 minutes. Except of course for the fact I'd been given a free ticket and still had 94Marks to get rid of!!

Life is beautiful.

Bosnia is a stark contrast of beauty and tragedy. The mountainous drive was a terrifically scenic one but it was sad to see almost every building covered in straffe marks or bomb holes. My stomach was lurching with pity. I knew how important it was to see this. I think everyone should. But I really just wanted to put a big blanket over it all and make it go away. The people were dour and depressed. It didn’t help that the predominantly Muslim population were also under the strict starvation rules of holy month Rammadan. Out of respect I tried it for one day and felt very giddy and had massive headaches, not to mention a killer thirst.

Sarajevo was a step back in time, or at least, to the middle east. Badly cobbled streets and a Mosque every where you looked. I was forced to drink Turkish coffee - in which the coffee grounds are left in the cup and you leave it to settle and try not to stir when you sip. In between Burek I also ate the national dish ĉevapĉiĉi (pronounced chevapchichi) which is just 10 sausages chucked on a pita bread. I didn’t see a single vegetable the whole time I was there. I finally spotted a Dalmation dog and realised I hadnt seen one the whole time I was in Dalmatia! None of the restaurants served alcohol. I looked around and everyone was drinking glasses of milk! I found a big crowded bar and most people were drinking soft drinks so I downed a couple pints and sat there grinning at them all while the acoustic  band played Crowded House to a crowded house.

I again had to stay in an old ladies house. She was a fiesty old bird who made me take my shoes off at the door, threw my bag off the bed when I put it down, didn’t give me a heater, spoke absolutely no English, had no hot water and after giving her 10Marks to do my clothes washing I realised there was no way to dry them. It was freezing temps outside so I had to scam a bar heater and spend the entire nite turning my clothes in front of it…

The next morning I met a delightful English couple who were waltzing through the markets. They were backpacking with their 6month old daughter Matilda and struggling so I helped them out and we caught the train together up off to Slovenia...
Musicolo says:
Hm your review and experience is pretty limited in my opinion. The city consists of old turkish part, the old town and very elegant austro-hungarian part with completely different architecture. Its not all so blend. Its an amazing mixture of East and West. Turkish coffe, as you call it, but Bosnians will disagree with you, since they call it Bosnian coffe and is slightly different from Turkish coffe is mostly served in the old town, to ratain the authenticity. If you can find something to drink in Sarajevo, its coffe. Amazing coffe culture. If you just walked ten minutes towards the Austro-Hungarian part of the center, you could have found italian coffe at every corner. And alcohol? Well, the city has its own brewery and I haven't seen any restrictions on alcohol drinking. Of course there are traditional old muslim restaurant popular with locals where they don't serve alcohol but Sarajevans in generally consume large quantities of it and you can drink it anywhere you like. 98% of caffes, restaurant and clubs serve it. Also, with regard to vegetarian food, next time, before you go let me know, Ill give you a tip on tons od places where you can eat all sorts of vegetarian dishes. It just seems like you havent experienced the city like you should have done, which is shame.
Posted on: Aug 11, 2009
AndiPerullo says:
Life IS beautiful! I love that you aren't afraid of adventures...
Posted on: Jun 19, 2007
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73 km (45 miles) traveled
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photo by: herman_munster