A Fresh Start

Sarajevo Travel Blog

 › entry 12 of 23 › view all entries
Sebjil

After yesterdays trials and tribulations it was time to get on with it and search out what Sarajevo had to offer. After the breakfast crew were done we headed out and straight for the tourist information office, which is in one of the streets running parallel to the Ferhadija towards the river. Had planned before I left to try and do the Siege Tunnel and we got the information on it. There were a 2 hour and a 3 hour version, and knowing that you CAN have to much of a good thing we went for the 2 hour option. Were told to be at the other sice of the brige down from the Latin Bridge just before 2pm.

It was only just after 10am now, so decided to go and see the things that were highlighted on the map and headed down to the river and along to the left to see the Old City Hall and National And University Library.

Tram On Obala Kukina Bana
It was all covered in tarpaulins and scaffolding, which was disappointing, but the significance was lost on us still, that would come later. Across the road from it was the Cuprija Seherija and on the other side of it was the Inat Kuca ( The Spite House) which had the story printed on one of the information maps. Originaly built close to the City Hall, the owner refused to allow it to be demolished when they were having to alter the course of the the River Miljacka. So they took the house down brick by brick, altered the river and rebuilt the house on the other side.

On a wall across the river there was grafiti painted on the wall with UN=Nazis showing there were still feelings running high over the war and it's aftermath. Decided we might as well follow the river and headed along towards the newer part of the city, with some nice buildings along either side.

Inat Kuca ( The Spite House)
Rather bizarrely the Academy Of Fine Arts housed the Apple Store :O I like my phone, but have never considered it a work of art.   

Further down the river we came across three guys who were in the river and looked like they were salvaging bits of scrap metal out of the river. Turned up and went past the Ali-Pasha Mosque and on up to the Olympic Centre. There were two big cemetries up here beside it, and round the corner is the football stadium. Looking at the map we were close to the bus station, and decided to head along and try and sort out buses to Split for Friday. Found the road and ended up having to walk through a big tunnel with a narrow pavement to get there, passing the railway station on the way, since it is in fact just round the corner.

Academy Of Fine Arts
Found the appropriate ticket office and asked the times of the buses. There was one at 7am and one at 10am. i had been under the impression the trip would take about 5 hours, but on the off chance I asked and was told it would take 8 1/2 hours :-O. Didn't really leave us much choice as the 10am wouldn't allow for any delays. Cost about £100 for the 4 tickets, but at least it was sorted now, and we wouldn't need to be along here again until we were leaving. Went back to the train station to get a tram back down into town, making sure we bought tickets at the kiosk. Were waiting ages and walked back down to the main road and got one from there.

Found the place we were to meet up with the tour, and around then I got a text from vagabond75 to say he was on his way to Sarajevo.

Olympic Tower
Seemed more folk arriving than there was room for on the minibus, but they just phone around and rustle up a few more guides. There was a party of 25 Italians, and they wanted the big bus so they could all stick together. This turned out to be a result, as we got a Land Rover with just 7  of us in it, and a fantastic guide. He drove us around the Old Town and pointed out all the things of interest, which would we would now go back to and make up most of our itinerary for the following day.

He had been 15 1/2  when the siege had started and had signed up for the Bosnian Army when he was 16, after getting written permission from his parents. The language he used was as much in the present as the past and the Serbs and Montenegrans were always referred to as the aggressors.

Hillside Graveyard
He pointed out the positions on the hills and the areas of the city that the Serbs controlled and all the danger points around the town. We were heading to the Siege Tunnel and  he explained how it had come into existance and how it was controlled.

The tunnel ran underneath the airport which was controlled by the UN, the rest of the city was surrounded by militant Serbs. Aid coming into the city was split 60/40 with the Serb Forces for them to allow it into Sarajevo, and although the population had shrunk from the pre war 600,000 there were still over 300,000 remaining and the food just wasn't enough. The only way in and out was across the airfield, which Un troops would turn folk back if they found them, on the rather benusing reasoning that they didn't want to be part of the ethnic cleansing of the city by allowing an exodus :-O.

Entering The Tunnel of Life
People using this route were also at risk from snipers and so it was decided to dig a tunnel under the airport.

This was known locally as the Tunnel Of Life, and ran from a house on the other side of the airfield to buildings 800m away in the city. Reckoned the Serbs knew of a tunnel, but could never find it. Earth dug out from the tunnel was dispersed on the free side in the defensive trenches that had been dug, and on the city side it was put into two buildings that had been shelled but still had the walls . Once out at the tunnel there was a short video presentation, on the building of the tunnel,which was completed in mid 1993,and showed pictures of troops and people moving in and out of it. On it's completion the first priority was for weapons to be brought through to defend the city, then food and then medicine .

Siege Tunnel
the film showed folk laughing and joking as they came out of the tunnel and then followed them as they darted across taking cover behind buildings.   

There was a section showing film footage from the time of the bombardment of Sarajevo, which even now is still quite distressing to watch . As an aside at this point I'd like to take the opportunity to recommend a book. As part of the preperations for Sarajevo wife got a book out of the library, and I'm about to finish it, by Bill Carter called Fools Rush In. He is the guy who filmed a lot of the stuff to bring the situation in Sarajevo to the attention of the world, including the Miss Sarajevo pagent. He was also responsible for getting Bono and U2 involved, and while it was to dangerous for them to go to Sarajevo at the time, he organised it so that messages from Sarajevo were beemed out to U2 concerts while they were doing the Zoo Tour.

Siege Map
A great read in it's own right, but all the more poigniant when you can visualise the areas he is talking about.

That digression over :D , after the film finished we headed on down into the tunnel. Had to stoop as it's only 1.5m high and there is only a 35m section left, as they collapsed the rest after the war since it did run under and operational runway. Coming out at the other end you can enter into a small museum with some exhibits from the tunnel and pictures. There is a whole wall of commendations, from the UN,US UK and all sorts of organisations , to the Kolar family who owned the house and kept it hidden and running for 2 years. 

Back to the Land Rover and we headed up to where the front lines had been. Think I had always imagined the troops being sited on the hills above the city, but they were right down in the town, and in places just 30m apart.

Bosnian Army Banner
At one point our guide showed one defensive position that was that close and then behind it loads of houses where folk had lived in the cellars, but that this was why this place was defended so resolutely. As I said the guide was just brilliant, and where we went and a lot of the info I use in tomorrows entry came from him. 

Back where we started from we walked back up through the town to the hotel. Had arranged to meet vagabond75(Kevin) at 8-30 at the Sebjil Fountain . We headed out to get something to eat and found a great wee restaurant up one of the side streets off Ferhadija, and while the others finished their meals i headed round to the Bascarsija. How would we recognise each other ? No subtle pink carnations or rolled up copies of The Times for me, I had my NY Rangers ice hockey top with me and think I stuck out enough for passing aircraft to notice, but it was enough for Kevin anyway :D.

Picture Of Trams In Skenderija

Went back round to the restaurant and enjoyed a pleasnt evening talking away,about places we had been and plans of places to go. Recommendations for our next stops, as we were going in opposite directions, so we picked out a couple of places in Mostar and Kevin gave us the heads up on Split. We were only going to have a few hours there, and thanks to him we knew exactly what we were looking for and think we managed to make the most of it. Not surprisingly we also highlighted the Tunnel tour as a must do in Sarajevo. Kevin was easy company on the night and fascinating when he went onto his real passion of archaeology. All this and we managed to keep an eye on the football at the same time.

Front Line Over The City
Cheers Kevin :)

As the night drew on and our 11pm curfew looming, we bid farewell to Kevin and headed back to the hotel. A good day all round, certainly better than yesterday :D 

sylviandavid says:
fun read... thanks..... you always do a great job
Posted on: Aug 07, 2010
huibdos says:
Good blog, brings mixed feelings.
Posted on: Jul 19, 2010
nathanphil says:
Brings back a lot of memories...
Posted on: Jul 19, 2010
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Sebjil
Sebjil
Tram On Obala Kukina Bana
Tram On Obala Kukina Bana
Inat Kuca ( The Spite House)
Inat Kuca ( The Spite House)
Academy Of Fine Arts
Academy Of Fine Arts
Olympic Tower
Olympic Tower
Hillside Graveyard
Hillside Graveyard
Entering The Tunnel of Life
Entering The Tunnel of Life
Siege Tunnel
Siege Tunnel
Siege Map
Siege Map
Bosnian Army Banner
Bosnian Army Banner
Picture Of Trams In Skenderija
Picture Of Trams In Skenderija
Front Line Over The City
Front Line Over The City
Catrhedral In Sarajevo
Catrhedral In Sarajevo
Damaged Old City Hall And Library
Damaged Old City Hall And Library
Cuprija Seherija
Cuprija Seherija
Main Post Office
Main Post Office
University
University
Guys Salving Stuff From the River
Guys Salving Stuff From the River
Random Statue In Sarajevo
Random Statue In Sarajevo
Ali-Pasha Mosque
Ali-Pasha Mosque
Graveyard Beside The Stadium
Graveyard Beside The Stadium
Olimpijski Stadion Kosevo
Olimpijski Stadion Kosevo
Walking Through The Road Tunnel
Walking Through The Road Tunnel
Platforms At The Station :O
Platforms At The Station :O
Railway Station
Railway Station
Tour Land Rover
Tour Land Rover
kids In The Land Rover
kids In The Land Rover
House With The Hidden Tunnel
House With The Hidden Tunnel
Siege Presentation
Siege Presentation
Direction Of Tunnel Above Ground
Direction Of Tunnel Above Ground
Picture Of Medics In The Tunnel
Picture Of Medics In The Tunnel
Some Letters To The Kolar Family
Some Letters To The Kolar Family
SFOR Certificate Of Appreciation
SFOR Certificate Of Appreciation
Thank You letter From British Amba…
Thank You letter From British Amb…
Soldier In The Tunnel
Soldier In The Tunnel
Picture Of Damage To Holiday Inn A…
Picture Of Damage To Holiday Inn …
View From Where The Front Line Was
View From Where The Front Line Was
Old Railway Station
Old Railway Station
Evening Sun On Hills Above Sarajevo
Evening Sun On Hills Above Sarajevo
Sarajevo Sights & Attractions review
Siege Tunnel Tour
An absolute must for when you are in Sarajevo. Can be booked through the Tourist Information Office, and also througgh some hotels and hostels, tho… read entire review
Sarajevo Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Zembilj Restaurant & Cafee
Found here just because there were a few restaurants and cafes up this street and we liked the look of it. Had low tables outside so we chose to si… read entire review
Sarajevo
photo by: herman_munster