We arrived in the evening. The bus ride was actually quite nice and the scenery was just amazing! Bosnia is a really beautiful country. Reminded me of Bolivia, Virginia and Pennsylvania all mixed into one. The mountains were beautiful, the roads were very smooth, and the views were just amazing. Anyway, we finally arrived only to find out that the bus station was not actually in Sarajevo!
So during the trip I had been talking to my two Italian friends (in my previous post I explained how we barely made it on the bus and the bus driver was just being mean and we weren’t able to communicate with him) Usually everyone is so nice but this guy was just not in a good mood or something. Anyway, getting on the bus in Belgrade I was hot, sweaty, hadn’t shaved in a couple of days and was generally a mess. I had run the mad dash trying to find an ATM so that I could pay the driver to put my bag in the cargo hold as I couldn’t take it on with me. I had asked and he said no and wouldn’t allow us to without paying him.
So the same thing happened with the Italian girls who I found out were doctors on vacation. They were so nice, we talked on the drive over to Sarajevo (I think it was about a 4 hour drive or so) and had fun telling some stories. So when we arrived in Sarajevo the bus drove through downtown Sarajevo and we were all oooh-ing and aaah-ing because Sarajevo is so pretty.
There are mountains surrounding it and it’s just a classy European city. There’s also a river that runs down through Sarajevo and it was dusk and the old town just looked so historic and idyllic as we were driving by right through…but we kept on driving. And driving and driving some more…and we thought, are we going to stop? Finally we exit the city and we’re like, weren’t we supposed to stop in Sarajevo?
Then we find out that the bus stop is in another town. So now it’s evening and we get out. Where to go? How to get to Sarajevo? The first thing is we need to find an ATM to get some Bosnian money. So at the bus stop we ask an attendant and they said down by a grocery store is an ATM. So we go try to find it. By now it’s starting to get dark.
So we carry all our stuff, cross the highway and yea there’s a grocery store/sports center/something. This is in a part of town that is like a regular place, not touristic at all which was nice. This was everyday Bosnian life here. I remember a big tall guy, we thought he must’ve been a basketball player or something, and we asked him how to get to Sarajevo from where we were. He gave us some directions, go to another bus station back near where we got dropped off and there we can get a bus to Sarajevo. So after we got some money from the ATM we hiked back and sure enough, found the bus stop for Sarajevo. Thankfully everyone pretty much speaks English there!
So I had no idea where to go for the night, I hadn’t planned anything since I was in go mode since traveling from Istanbul. My Italian friends said, hey why don’t you come to our flat, maybe the owner has an extra room or something. So we arrived at the flat they had rented out and oh boy.
This is the bridge that ArchDuke Franz Ferdinand crossed before being killed on the other side, starting the events leading to World War I.
I don’t know how they found this place but it was kind of falling apart. Or maybe it just wasn’t finished. The bathroom worked at least so that was a plus. Wifi there was a bit hit and miss but the owner came to let us in. It was like a suite with three or four rooms, a small kitchen and bathroom. Not really a living room, but oh well there was a room open so I took it. Since I didn’t know anywhere else to stay I said sure, why not.
Here we are at the flat. Eliza wasn’t all that excited about it apparently :)
And here we are getting our first breakfast in Sarajevo. We had arrived late the night before and were hungry, so after walking around the old town, we luckily found a restaurant that was still open. Talking with them I learned that in Italy, they have horse pizza. Yes, horse pizza :) Yummy…also, donkey pizza. I had no idea that was Italian cuisine! The things you learn while traveling.
Actually, right after we arrived in Sarajevo in the evening, we met this young guy who was walking and asked for some directions. He was a very nice guy, wearing a sweater that had the American flag on it. We started talking a little bit about the Bosnian war and how that was like. He told us how there were snipers in the hills surrounding Sarajevo and much more. It was crazy to hear about it directly from a local!
Here is some of the old town of Sarajevo. We later learned of the terrible siege of Sarajevo in the 90s. It was bad, people, even children, were sniped by Serbian militants. More on that later.
The Old Town is quaint and very European, great to explore!
I didn’t realize just how much Muslim culture was there. I think they compared it and called it the Jerusalem of Europe because there were Muslims, Jews, and Christians all living in this city. So you would see a mosque, then a block away would be a synagogue, followed by a cathedral. Everyone seemed to get along though!
The Old Town area isn’t very big and can be explored in a day or so. It’s a lovely walk with some very interesting restaurants and cafes.
Even the kids are friendly :)
Some very scratch-your-head architecture too. This looks like a half painted soviet building or something. Usually soviet buildings are all just gray, but this one’s got some yellow and green here and there…not sure what they were thinking.
Here is the nice river that runs through the middle of Sarajevo.
These are called the Roses of Sarajevo. Basically where the mortar shells hit the pavement during the siege. Sadly many civilians died, but in the end they won!
This killed me. They have their main cathedral in the center of the old town, however it doesn’t line up with the street that leads up to it! As a photographer, why do you do this to me Sarajevo? Ahhhhhhh! Hahaha :)
So we spent a day exploring Sarajevo, since we were having such a good time, the Italian girls had planned on going to Mostar, which is a historic and amazing village near Sarajevo, for a day. So the next day we planned on making a day trip out to the famous Mostar to check it out.
Little did we know that we would meet the most interesting and cool taxi driver ever. He told us all about how he survived the Bosnian-Serbian war, how some of his family members died, took us to a little known and amazing place for tea, and what it was like to live in a city under siege and a lot more. Next up, adventures in the fabled village of Mostar!