Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

I had a long bus ride from Zagreb to Sarajevo. It was 8 hours pretty much exact. It seems that no matter the bus we have to pay baggage – pay to put it under the bus.

I brought a lot of food on the bus because I didn’t want to get hungry, but this time I ended up not eating very much. I especially didn’t drink that much because I wasn’t sure about the bathroom.

It turned out that we did stop twice for bathroom breaks and if anyone needed to buy some food. The bus wasn’t that full, I gather it’s because it’s winter and in the middle of the week.

One of the stops had a restroom, but there wasn’t a toilet. There was a hole in the floor and some feet markers to indicate where to squat.

When in Rome…

I thought the second stop would be the same, but there was a seat.

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It was quite dark when I arrived. I went over to the tram stop and asked the driver about a ticket. He smiled and waved me to have a seat. I thanked him and sat.

My hostel, Hostel Teatar, was a bit hard to find. It is in the same building of a theater near the eternal flame. But the sign for it was so small and it didn’t say it was on the second floor. But nonetheless, I did find it. I was greeted by one of the hostel managers, T.

“You’re the American girl from Hostelworld.”

“Yes….?” He indicated for me to follow and briefly gave me the run through.

“I’m cooking something, so meet me in the kitchen when you are done.”

My first night consisted of a man from Argentina and another from the UK. The Argentine seemed to be very happy I spoke Spanish as he was telling me all sorts of helpful things and wanted to meet up in Mostar later.

There is another hostel manager, H. He just woke up from a nap when I got there. Everyone was so great and friendly.

Like my hostel in Zagreb, this one had more of an apartment feel especially since my second night I was the only one.

I sat up and talked to H and T, as well as the UK guy the first night, and we laughed quite a bit.

They were telling me stories of their lives in and outside of the hostel. They just took it over and so far have had quite an experience.

Walking around my first day, I saw everything I wanted to see. Sarajevo isn’t that big and it is possible to see everything quickly. I went up to this fortress at the recommendation of the Argentine guy. It did not disappoint. The view was beautiful. However, the surrounding area is full of graves….and the dates all seem to coincide with the war that happened here in the 90s.

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I didn’t know much about Sarajevo’s history or the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I went to 2 history museums. The first was the history museum. It was being renovated and it didn’t have much. They called it a living museum and it was so weird to realize that the items displayed were used recently.

I thought of my childhood, playing with barbie dolls and not really caring and, for example, my hostel managers grew up with this around them. They said it wasn’t a big impact on their lives as they didn’t live in Sarajevo. T said his parents made a game out of the loud noises either natural or caused by the war.

There is a memorial in a park dedicated to the children of the war. Children that are around my age now.

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The second museum was better, but it was also the history of the city since the 1800s.

This museum was located in the bottom of the National Library. An impressive building in itself very beautiful.

The exhibits were very detailed about the major periods since the 1800s as well as the manner of life such as sports or fashion.

Sarajevo or B and H is very mixed culturally. As I am writing this, I’m sitting in a tea shop where I just finished this hot drink made from crushed orchids and cinnamon. The owner offered me some magazines in English about the city and country and it said,

“Sarajevo is where the East and West meet.”

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This is true. Walking around, I see lots of Tukish/Ottoman Empire influence as well as “modern” or Western influence. The magazine also said the city is 45% muslim. The highest percentage of one group.

I have not traveled much in Muslim countries or through their culture and when I heard the call to prayer the first time, I was very confused. But their buildings are beautiful. It is interesting to walk down some Middle Eastern streets then turn the corner and come across a building that looks like it can be in Paris.

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I walked by many religious buildings as well as the place were Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophia were assassinated starting World War 1.

The next day I had lunch with the hostel workers and I had a local dish called sarma, which is meat wrapped in cabbage along with potatoes and bread. It was delicious.

After, I tired a local dessert, which is apple soaked in sweet syrup and stuffed with nuts. That was also delicious.

Sarajevo was a nice city. They tell me it is more lively in the summer, which makes sense.

And for a funny story. I was walking around and a pigeon started to fly. Normally birds fly high enough that they miss your head. This one didn’t and proceeded to hit me in the head…my welcome to the city I guess? 🙂

(More pictures will be put on my flickr account soon- https://www.flickr.com/photos/myopenpassport/albums)

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