After arriving at the bus station about 15 minutes out of the city, we shared a taxi with two Italian girls to our accommodation for the next five days. I will be honest and say that most people’s first impression driving into Sarajevo might not be that positive. It’s only once you explore the “old town” and delve into the history of this city that you can appreciate what an awesome place it really is!
Here are some pics of us walking around the old town.
And of course one of me getting water 🙂
A very multicultural city, where you can find a mosque 100m down the road from a catholic church. As some of you may be aware, Bosnia and Herzegovina went through hell only 20 years ago from 1992 – 1995 when it was under constant attack from Serbia. We went to a gallery exhibition by a local photographer that painted an absolutely harrowing picture of what went on during this time. The exhibition really focused on evoking emotion for the atrocities that were committed, and there was a firm bias against the United Nations – where most Bosnian’s believe that the UN turned a blind eye and that a majority of deaths (of which there were over 20,000) could easily have been prevented with appropriate intervention!!
It was only when we did a guided tour that we understood the reasoning behind the pointless killing. Essentially it comes down to a Serbian general and his cronie’s warped views on religion – enforcing “ethnic cleansing” upon the muslim civilians of Bosnia. The war was undertaken partly in Sarajevo, though the most significant act of genocide was committed in the town Srebenitsa, ironically declared a safe zone by the UN. Things have improved dramatically from then, and Sarajevo is now a hustling upmarket city with excellent restaurants, nightlife, and public transport systems.
Our host for the next five days was a Bosnian man who actually had a Serbian wife!? I would have loved to ask him more about this city as he would have lived through it all, but unfortunately their English was virtually non existent! He couldn’t have been more hospitable though, and welcomed us into his home at about 10pm on the first night with a great big smile on his face. He even led us down the street in his pyjamas, pointing out an excellent pizza shop so that we could grab something to eat. I would highly recommend apartments Brac! Here is a picture of us all.
The next night we walked past a cafe where he was enjoying an orange juice and coffee on his own. He jumped out of his seat and begged us to join him, and we had the most amusing evening of charades as we tried to communicate with each other. It is amazing how you don’t need to speak a language to communicate, as we spent over an hour together – at times in hysterics as he had a great sense of humour. He insisted that he pick up the bill at the end which i though was extremely generous! Our relationship with Mr Brac extended even further when he realised that he had double booked our room. Instead of canceling one of the bookings, he offered up his own bedroom for us to stay in! So sure enough, his wife went to her sister’s place that night and he apparently worked through the night driving his pickup truck. We considered just moving to another place and not putting them out of their way, but we decided that the reason they offered is because they probably need the extra rent!
Here’s Dan and his truck 🙂
We were really getting to know the soul of Sarajevo, and every person we spoke to was extremely kind and helpful. Dan and I agreed that Bosnians would have to be the nicest people we have met so far! We tried a few restaurants, all of which were fantastic. Dan was in heaven as there was a thriving vegetarian scene, as we returned to our favourite restaurant Veggae Bar about three times – once in the rain only to find it was closed! Below is a very hearty bruschetta!
Cajdzinica Dzirlo Tea House was rated as one of the top cafe’s in Sarajevo. It turned out to be just 100m from our room, so we stopped by for a traditional Bosnian coffee! We really loved the atmosphere, and the hosts made sure to explain the proper way to brew, pour and drink a coffee.
We also found a super awesome bar called Zlatna Ribica, which is a bar furnished with the most interesting and unusual fittings you can imagine. I can only describe it as a treasure chest, where you can just stare at a wall for hours. We enjoyed some drinks, where Dan had sangria and I indulged in a glass of scotch on the rocks! It was that type of place 🙂
Our last day was spent at the Yellow fortress. It was a bit of a hike from our room but was an awesome view over the city of Sarajevo. In the foreground you can see a river of white gravestones – a very common occurrence as you move around this town.
Finally this is the bridge where Franz Ferdinand was assassinated (the heir to the Austrio-Hungarian throne). This essentially led to the First World War!
Once again we had the most amazing time in a city that we knew very little about previously. Next up is the city of Mostar, famed for its eye catching bridge in the heart of the old town. Can’t wait!