Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Bosnia was so unKIND! (All apologies to the Cranberries for changing their song).
Hello dear readers.
It’s been awhile, but I would be doing everyone a disservice if I didn’t drop a few lines about my trip to Sarajevo. I took a weekend off and decided to take the long bus ride from Zagreb to Sarajevo. I will probably never take the bus there again unless there is one that goes direct. The bus I took there via getbybus took nearly 9 hours. Border crossing wasn’t too bad (certainly stricter leaving Croatia than entering Bosnia) but after that the bus stopped in nearly every city on the way to Sarajevo to pick up other passengers or for rest/food stops, etc adding nearly another 2 hours to the trip. We arrived nearly 2 hours later than we were supposed to. However I cannot say enough about the beauty of Bosnia! While driving, we were surrounded by beautiful lakes and mountains, it was really breathtaking! Here is one picture from the bus, but of course it doesn’t do it justice.
Sarajevo is a very hilly city, my hostel was way up in the hills, so it took me awhile to find it. Thankfully google maps now works even if you don’t have any internet which I didn’t. I stayed in Hostel Kucha, shout out to Mujcic who manages the place. He is one of the absolute sweetest, coolest young men I have ever met. He allowed me to check in late and showed me to my dorm and all was well.
The second day I woke up early to spend the entire day in the center. I got in trouble in the hostel telling the female manager that Bosnian coffee was “Turkish style.” Having spent a year in Turkey and having the coffee there I couldn’t help but notice the resemblance between Bosnian coffee and Turkish coffee with taste and texture, but according to the manager, it’s made in a different way from Turkish coffee therefore it isn’t. However the Ottoman Turks I believe introduced coffee to Bosnia, if I’m not mistaken (correct me if I’m wrong here, historians), but okay, it’s still different. It looked and tasted nearly the same to me, however that’s probably because I’m not a coffee drinker in general, so maybe I just don’t know. Anyway, moral of story, no matter how similar you may think Bosnian coffee is to Turkish coffee, don’t compare them to each other if you don’t want to tick Bosnian people off. I’ve learned my lesson!
Went to the center after and walked around all day. To me Sarajevo is a true love child of Europe and Turkey. I went to the bazaar and thought I had transformed back to Turkey. Everything felt like Turkey to me. Here are some shots…. it’s an absolutely breathtaking city. I also ate Borek, and the famous Cevapcici.
I went shopping, too. They have a Textile house second hand store just like in Croatia, and I bought a few pre-loved items there.
Later in the afternoon/evening I met up with my friend Nick. We had dinner and coffee in a mall and he gave me the ins and outs of Sarajevo and the general overall culture and mindset of the people, and his life there as an English teacher, and I was especially interested in his life being a minority there. It was a very interesting conversation. I didn’t see many other people of color there, one tourist Asian group, but that is all really. Even everyone in my hostel was from Europe, Ukraine, etc. Of course since it is October it isn’t exactly tourist high season, however I was surprised. Still everyone I met there was nice and welcoming. I spoke as much Croatian as I could to service people so I had no trouble in this department.
When I arrived back at the hostel that evening Mujcic was there again working. He gave me his perspective on the war years earlier. He was born right after the war ended but he told me about many stories concerning his parents and older sister and how they managed to survive. I was really riveted to the spot as he was speaking about the terrible things that were happening to the people of Sarajevo during that time, bombs, snipers, and the like, and how it was so dangerous to go outside of your house He showed me a map in the hostel about how the Serbian forces surrounded the city and they happened to live close to the front lines. It’s really amazing how his family survived and how it’s crazy and overwhelming to think that with the slightest change of some fortunate events that happened… wouldn’t be here telling his family’s story today. It’s just amazing the incredible survival stories of the people of Sarajevo and how strong they are. And this all happened in my lifetime. I remember seeing many things about Sarajevo on the news but I was a child at the time myself and didn’t understand what I was seeing and its significance. I am happy I was able to get my accounts from the actual people of Sarajevo who lived through it than from American journalists simply there to do a job but having no real connection to Sarajevo or its people.
Sarajevo was wonderful and I hope to return at least one more before I leave the Balkans for good. I wasn’t able to go to the museum of crimes against humanity in Sarajevo and I regret not being about to do that.
More to come: Heading to Zadar now for a 2 day trip to the Croatian coast. Thankfully this trip is 3.5 hours, direct, with no border crossings. Yes!