Editors note: This blog is continued from Serbia 2: New Years 2008/9 (part 1)
15th January 2009
New Years 2009: Serbia 2 and Bosnia
Current Mood: Excited
Category: Travel And Places
Arriving in a place where most of the buildings are peppered with bullet holes and are about to fall down, one would be forgiven for thinking they were back in Hackney, North London.
As most of you are aware recently there was a war between the Serbians, the Bosnians and the Muslims which left the city of Sarajevo looking like something a ghetto within a ghetto. What most of you aren’t aware of though is how this war originally started… which is understandable cos if you ask the locals how this war started they couldn’t tell you either. Yet all that’s in the past now and Sanja and I were free to walk the city without being shot at, again something of a privilege compared to some areas of London. As it was the danger of collecting a few bullet holes as souvenirs, which would have been pretty impressive to show my mates at home I admit, was replaced by skidding arse over tit from the frozen ground. You see Bosnians so pre-occupied with war have yet to discover that salt melts ice and as a result Sarajevo had become one giant ice rink. With so many people falling over you couldn’t help thinking that there was still a lone Serbian sniper shooting people with his rifle from the mountains who’s yet to be informed the war ended several years ago.
As the city is still being regenerated I can’t say there’s really much to see or do – I guess most sights were blown up along with their tour guides during the war and what sights are left are a result of the war. For example there’s Snipers Alley – a mile long stretch of road where snipers up in the hills would shoot at people making away along the road. Even cars weren’t safe and they would tear along the road at high speeds, thus eventually leading to the creation of a motorsport called drag racing. And we visited a tunnel which for Bosnians connected the city to the mountains that enabled food, aid and ammunition to be brought into the city during the war. And it had a rail road installed in it for when somebody really important came along, they could be pushed the 30 metres along the tunnel as they sat in a wheelchair. As far as rollercoasters go I thought it was pretty lame, even if you did have your photo take half way down the tunnel.
But anyway back in the city there’s loads of mosques and churches too that love to make a racket across the city. Not content with ringing the bells once a day it appears the Bosnian Quasimodo version of Notre Dam has drafted in his hunchback cousins from across the globe to ring the bells of every church every 5 minutes. This of course is in response to the mosques who, not content with preaching their prayers within the walls of their mosques, have fixed those megaphone speakers to the top of their spires for all to hear their best singing notes. It’s like an MC battle of the religions. There’s a great museum here too which explains quite a bit about the war in Sarajevo. Unfortunately I spent an hour trying to appear fascinated by stupid fossil rocks whilst trying to find the war section before realising I was in the wrong museum, which was located another 50 metres up the road.
Mythological yeti looses camera shyness by making a new dance instructional DVD
When it comes to the pub and club scene both Serbia and Bosnia have put their middle finger up towards the smoking ban the rest of Europe have adopted.
So bad it was that for the last two years my lungs have benefited from a secondary smoke free environment was wasted within 30 seconds of walking into my first Bosnian pub. The smoke was so bloody thick that if I wanted to say something to Sanja I’d simply write something in the air using my finger. And after a few days in Sarajevo Sanja wrote, ‘Let’s go to Bijeljina’
Waiting to collect a bus transfer after being kicked off the bus at a remote area of Bosnia whilst on our way to Bijeljina I was having a chinwag with Sanja. It would be rude to ignore my travel buddy after all.
Anyroad, my conversation piece was gradually being drowned out a alien high pitched screeching sound to which I said something to the effect of, ‘Fuck me, it sounds like someone’s killing a pig’ Then I saw it in the front yard about 100 metres down the road – a dead pig minus one head and a man with chainsaw in his hand walking away. ‘Fuck me!’ I shouted, ‘It feels like a have a 13 inch cock in my pants’ but a quick look after revealed only disappointment. Back to the pig though – turns out this is what all Bosnians do the day before their Christmas, which is on the 8th of January by the way, they lob off the head of a pig and, if they’re anything like me, use a mobile phone to record the headless pig running around the yard for half a minute to post on Utube later. Pig is the national dish in Bosnia for Christmas day, which explains why each year 2000 British turkeys apply for Bosnian citizenship.
We reached our accommodation which looked like a 19th Century version of Bosnian Disneyland.
Immediately I dropped my bags and ran off to find Mickey Mouse and give him a kick in the shin. He hid well enough for me not to find him but I did manage to stamp on Pluto’s paw. At one point we attempted to hitch a ride into the city centre. It took forever for a car to come scraping along the road as we stood there with out thumbs hanging in the air and our best ‘We’re not going to rob and kill you’ look on our faces. The driver looks at us, pulls a puzzled face and then raises his thumb up at us as if to say, ‘Hi to you too’. And the thing is he was being absolutely serious. I can tell when someone is taking the mickey out of us, but this guy genuinely thought Sanja and I were standing by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere saying ‘Hi’ to anybody who happened to pass by. This was our first and last attempt to ever hitch a ride in Bosnia. The city centre itself was more like a small town with many foreign people, mostly Bosnians with the exception of a Serb and Englishman, and looked very dated. But I liked it, you could definitely tell you were in another country. At night there was some big religious thing happening that caused enough fuss to have TV crews come down to record it.
Not happy with tearing a tree from the ground, the people in the name of religion had taken this tree into the town centre to be set on fire and burned before my very eyes. I’m guessing the tree protested at a dog peeing up against it and was now being punished for it. Anyroad, after the tree was well any truly dead the High Priest, who everybody appeared to have lots of people around him to protect him, began throwing dried fruit and sweets at us. Now there’s throwing where you gently lob sweets into the crowd using the ‘underarm’ technique and then there’s watching baseball highlights on CNN News the night before and thinking ‘I bet I can throw harder then that baseball pitcher guy’ before fucking all the dried fruit and sweets into the crowd at 100mph. And even that doesn’t bother me, in fact I’d find it funny watching people wince as it him them, but when one piece of died fruit – a plumb I think it was – came and twat me right between the eyes I became a little peed off. This is when I instantly discovered why there was a load of big men around the priest to protect him, cos if I got my hands on him the TV crews would have ended up recording a tied up priest on fire where the tree was standing only 5 minutes earlier. At least the tree would have been rooting for me – what a pun in words , hey?? Anyroad, my attention was swayed from the Priest when a load of young people in the village came out dressed in traditional clothing and carrying trays of mulled wine for us to get stuck into just the sort of thing we needed before our trip back to Belgrade.
With his ass frozen solid to the block, Del spent several months waiting for a bus
Editors Note: Continue reading this blog at Serbia 2: New Years 2008/9 (part 1)