The 6 hour bus trip from Podgorica to Sarajevo was something that neither of us were looking forward to, but fortunately for us the bus was comfortable and the views were stunning. As we set off the rain started, making for the perfect temperature for travelling, even if it made the narrow and in parts unsealed gorge road somewhat hair-raising. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
The city of Sarajevo has such a deep and complex history from its early beginnings to its more resent history; the Bosnian war (1991-1996) and the siege of Sarajevo (1992-1995). It has a beating heart with a rich diversity with differing cultures and religions all living literally side by side.
Our guest house was literally 500 meters walk from the famous Miljacka river that flows through the heart of the city. On the first evening we strolled over one of the many bridges that traverse the river to find ourselves in the heart of the old town. It is a fantastically busy and exciting place, with amazing sights and smells to entice all along its narrow cobbled streets.
I really don’t know what to write about Sarajevo. We arrived having done very little research and found ourselves after half a day needing to bone up on our history, both recent and not so recent. You get the sense that everyone belongs. There is no set way to describe a person from Sarajevo. There are many religions all worshiping in their own way side by side and harmoniously. There are old and young, conservative and modern, rich and poor, all side by side (at least when observed from a foreigners perspective). Such a mix of people.
To help us orientate ourselves in a new country or city, we usually find ourselves walking around and simply absorbing it. Sarajevo is a perfect place to walk and explore and get lost in. The history of the city is not sealed off or hidden, but is used: the churches, mosques and synagogs from the 15th century are still part of daily life. There is evidence of the war and scars from the siege that act as reminders of the unfortunate recent past. Many of the old historical buildings have the pox marks of the siege as well as more recent spray paint and tags. This all adds a slight grittiness to the city.
In fact, one of the only places not to be tagged was the plaque opposite the Latin Bridge marking the spot where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, triggering World War 1.
We spent much of the time in Sarajevo sitting in cafes, getting lost in the maze of streets and eating amazing food…and of course drinking amazing locally brewed beer. The best beer we had all stemmed from faulty wiring…In our guesthouse, the lights started working intermittently. Then all the power went out, meaning a dark room with no hot water. After contacting the owners, who live off site, we packed our bags and readied ourselves to demand a refund and find alternative accommodation. But, to apologise for what happened, the lovely owners got an electrician around, and while he fixed the house wiring they took us to a local brewery for the night. A pretty good result!
To be honest we spent a day or two too long in Sarajevo, but it was good to gain a deeper appreciation of the place. However we are both gagging to get to our next location: Mostar.