Posts Tagged ‘mosque’

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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This little fortress town was our first stop in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the way to Sarajevo. You can climb up a large hill to a tower that sits on top. On the way up the hill is a restored mosque, but the tower itself is basically in ruins. It is still accessible, though, and you can even go up in the tower if you aren’t afraid of narrow, steep stairs and dirt! The view from the outer part of the tower to the river Neretva below is worth the climb.

View of the fortress from the path on the hill

Downhill view of the mosque and the Neretva river below

About the level of the tower, but over to the side, is a small café where you can get drinks. I think it is basically someone’s house, but there was a cute little garden with a view and it is a perfect spot for a cold drink after the climb up the hill. The cold options were all juices made right there from local fruits, so we chose the pomegranate juice. This was apparently made from the pomegranates that grow wild all over these hills; they are much smaller than the ones you see in the stores back home. The juice itself was quite purple, and had an interesting taste. Our hostess also served us pastries flavored with local lavender and sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar, which were delicious. Overall, Počitelj was a really cute little place to stop and I recommend taking about an hour to check it out if you are ever on a road trip through the region.

Inside the outer walls of the fortress (between the outer walls and the tower)

Fresh pomegranate juice with lavender pastries. Delicious!

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