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Posts Tagged ‘Bosnia and Herzegovina’

We arrived in Sarajevo on a Sunday afternoon, and, after being driven around in circles for an hour by our hired driver, who apparently didn’t know where our hotel was located even though we had provided an address in advance, finally found our hotel. Soon after, my uncle, who recently moved to Sarajevo came to meet us, and we took off to his new house to do our laundry. Any readers who have spent long amounts of time traveling will know that figuring out where or how to wash your clothes can be one of the more daunting aspects of long-term travel, and having a relative with a washing machine can be a great relief. This also gave us time to catch up over a beer while the first load was washing. Later that night, my uncle treated us to dinner at Dveri, in the old town part of Sarajevo, which had the best ajvar I have ever tasted. The rest of the food was excellent as well, and seemingly very traditional Bosnian food, and I highly recommend this restaurant.

View of the Holiday Inn (where foreign correspondents stayed during the war) from my uncle's office window

We took advantage of a free tour that happens every afternoon, which I believe is arranged by the city government. Our city tour began and ended near the Latin Bridge, next to the site of the assassination of ArchDuke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by Gavrilo Princip, which marked the beginning of World War I. We saw many of the other major sites in the old city, with the guide frequently pointing out locations of shelling damage or deaths from the war and siege, or explaining the city’s history of coexistence and tolerance amongst religions. It is true that everywhere you go in Sarajevo the buildings are pockmarked with shelling damage, or have spots where the damage was repaired, but it is an exciting and vibrant city all the same. To me, one of the most interesting things about Sarajevo was that an actual person, rather than a loudspeaker, performs the call to prayer from the minaret of each mosque. It’s much quieter, but also seems so much more “real” in some inexplicable way, perhaps because there’s no crackle accompanying the voice.

An attempt to buy a bottle of rakia as a gift for someone turned into quite an adventure when our taxi driver decided we could buy some from his friends. First, the conversation in which this decision was made was conducted in Bosnian, which I don’t speak, so I don’t really know exactly how it went down, just that I was informed that the driver was taking us to his friends’ “store” where we could buy the rakia. This quickly turned into a wild ride up winding mountain roads, out of the city and into the more rural surroundings. The driver parked us outside a restaurant, and escorted us inside, where we were sat down. Then, the proprietors brought out a shotglass for my boyfriend to try. He pronounced it to be good, so then they proceeded to open and pour out a bottle of water, and fill it with their homemade rakia. A few convertible marks later, we headed back our with our water bottle of homemade rakia, which I now had to give to someone as a gift. Despite the obvious authenticity of the product, I decided I needed to purchase a secondary gift in slightly more formal packaging!

The Latin Bridge

Our second night in town, we met up with my uncle and with my boyfriend’s aunt, who took us to Biban, a restaurant in the mountains with a great view of the city. We had a drink there while watching the sunset, and then headed to my boyfriend’s dad’s favorite Sarajevo restaurant, where we had another really delicious Bosnian meal. In all, our 2-night visit was way too short and we will have to go back again soon, but it was very nice to be able to spend some time with family when so far from home.

A ruined building left from the war that our guide told us will soon be fixed up by the city

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Mostar was our next stop on the way to Sarajevo. We dropped off a friend who was riding with us and staying there, and then took a quick walk through the old part of the city, over the famous bridge and back. It would have been nice to have had a few hours in the city instead of just 45 minutes, but we got to see it and it was certainly worth the stop. On the bridge, there was a young guy in swimming trunks trying to get tourists to pay him to jump off the bridge into the river below! The bridge is quite high, so it would have been interesting to watch, but no one was willing to shell out the high price he was asking (us included).

View from the bridge looking across the river at part of the old town

This is the view of the bridge from the location seen in the first picture

After we left Mostar, the drive to Sarajevo through the mountains was breathtaking. Most of the time, the road followed a bright turquoise-colored river, with the mountains soaring above us. It was one of the more beautiful things I have seen so far on this trip, but unfortunately I couldn’t get a good photo of it.

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