In terms of travel, this year we decided to expand our horizons and travel outside Croatia. First we visited Verona, and for the first multi-day trip abroad we chose Sarajevo. As a means of transport this time we chose a bus and decided to travel in the backpacker style, you know, for economic reasons.
On the day of the trip we put the backpacks on our backs and already around 6.30 a.m. we head to Sarajevo. Already after crossing the border, the difference from Croatia is evidend and very interesting. We pass through Gradiška, Banja Luka, Jajce, Travnik, etc. In addition to that, I would particularly emphasise the beautiful nature which we enjoyed almost the whole way. The canyon of the Vrbas River is a really beautiful area, and we also learned that it is used for a variety of adventurous sports such as rafting, alpinism, kayaking, etc. I hope this will soon be our destination, not just the location we pass through.
After about eight hours of driving and a few stops to rest we arrive at our so desired destination. We were a bit stiff, but at the same time happy and ready for new adventures. The first adventure begins practically immediately. Because of a little too much relaxation, which we’ll attribute to euphoria because of the trip, we didn’t check how to get to the hotel in time. A little confused, we’re walking around the station, where we want to connect to Wi-Fi and find out everything we wanted to know. We found the bus station we needed and while walking towards it we pass by the campus. I liked the concept, particularly in comparison with Zagreb, where colleges are mostly scattered around the city. We arrived at the station and just in case we checked with alady that we’re standing at a good station. The lady kindly confirms and we continue the conversation until the bus arrived. We entered the bus, bought the tickets and drove to the destination. Our Drina Premium Hotel is a few kilometres from the city centre, about half an hour by tram. For the first time we made amistake and walked through mud, but we never made that mistake again.
The hotel where we’re staying is really nice and interestingly decorated. It’s true, it’s not big, but that’s not what we wanted. The receptionist showed us the room, where we finally take off our backpacks. Although we didn’t plan to visit Bašćaršija on the first day, we changed our minds and decided to take a short stroll through the most famous part of Sarajevo. Our kind receptionist explained how it is easiest to reach, and by the end of our journey we use that same mode of transport-tram.
In the evening Baščaršija has a special charm. There is a lot of people, but still not so much that you can’t walk. At every step there are various cafes, ćevabdžinice, buregdžinice, pastry shops and lots of colorful and interesting shops. That very feeling that Sarajevo provides is easy for you get addicted to, so you have a desire to have something from every store, whether it be souvenirs, handmade stuff, scarves or something else. We only buy magnets to start with, while we leave the big shopping for the next day. After a pleasant walk we had a break with real Turkish tea, and we went to the shops to buy some things for the evening. I can’t help but mention that even in Sarajevo we bought things at Konzum, which, given some not so distant political events in Croatia, seemed a bit comical. Politics aside, after shopping we sat on the tram and, already a little tired, we return to the hotel. After a day like today, we could hardly wait for a shower and a bed. Soon we go to sleep eagiously awaiting the continuation of the adventure the next day.
We wake up early and go to breakfast. Right then we had a surprise. Instead of the expected spreads, salami and cheese, for breakfast we got real delicacies – chicken made in several ways, burgers, salads and other. Tasty and great. After breakfast, we go to take a tour of the city.
For today, we planned a lot of things. First we go to a war tunnel known as the Sarajevo Tunnel. On the way to the tunnel we met an older man who overheard our conversation with the salesgirl at the kiosk. He approached and told us the story of how he also built the tunnel, and how he was in important positions during the war. He explained how the city actually looked and functioned during the war and particularly emphasized the importance of the tunnel. Unfortunately, the arrival of the bus interrupted our conversation, but I must admit that I am truly fascinated by the openness of the people of Sarajevo and their willingness to talk, and perhaps more importantly, their desire to help. Whoever we talked to, they were courteous and kind, willing to help in any way they could. It is my opinion that in many ways we should look upto these people, who may have less financially, but surely have more in their hearts and souls than a large part of the Croats.
Furthermore, the Sarajevo Tunnel was a tunnel made during the war in 1993. Sarajevo was under four years of difficult siege, which makes it one of the longest sieges in the history of modern warfare. It was built under the airport, it is 785.5 m long, about 1 m wide and about 1.5 m tall. It connected two sides that were controlled by the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the war, it was imperative that this tunnel remained a secret, because there was food and weapons coming to the city through it, and there were men and those who were wounded in the war. However, the Republika Srpska Army found out about the tunnel in 1994, and the infamous Ratko Mladić demanded that the tunnel is demolished.
Today, many years after the war, the tunnel and the house where it was built were converted into a museum. We visited the museum, and even though it’s small, I have to admit it’s really upsetting to see what’s been happening in this town. In addition to the exhibit, you can also see a timeline in the museum space, which describe war events in Sarajevo. We passed through a small, preserved part of the tunnel, and it’s really hard to imagine how people were moving through such a narrow and low space. In the backyard there are pictures of all those who participated in the construction, and there we found our new friend we had met before. After visiting the museum we look at several planes from the nearby, already mentioned airport and continue our adventure.
From the tram we got off a bit earlier and walked along Miljacka. We passed by the famous bridge Latinska Ćuprija, one of the oldest in Sarajevo. The interesting thing about this bridge is that in 1914 the heir to the throne, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy Archduke Franjo Ferdinand and his wife Sofia, were assassinated nearby. This event is known as the Sarajevo assassination, and is considered to be the cause of the first World War I. There was a monument on the bridge, but it was destroyed in 1918. After the walk we arrive at Baščaršija.
Still, something to eat first. As expected, we decide on the true Sarajevo speciality – ćevapi in the popular Ćevabdžinica Željo. I don’t have to describe how delicious they were. They are completely different from what we have in Croatia and I have to admit that we enjoyed it very much. After lunch we continued our walk, as we need to buy a lot of souvenirs. We bought everything from sweets to decorations, scarf and hand-made work. It’s hard to control oneself because everything is really interesting and unique, you almost feel like you’re in some Arabian market. With full bags, we go to the Havana Café for a beer. After the refreshment we go to an interesting place, which will not represent anything to the ordinary tourist. However, the Bosnian Cultural centre Sarajevo is a very important place. No less than the legendary Bruce Dickinson held the concert there. Maybe that fact would be nothing special, if that concert hadn’t been held in 1994, when the war was raging in Sarajevo. The whole event is described in the Scream for Me Sarajevo documentary, for which you have my warm recommendations. In this film you can see how important this concert is for the morale of the citizens of Sarajevo in the war.
After that we pass through various sights-the Cathedral of the Heart of Jesus, eternal fire, mosque, but special attention is drawn to the so-called Roses of Sarajevo. These are commemorations for the citizens of Sarajevo, killed during the siege of the city. They are actually holes in the ground made by granades when the city was bombed. They were then filled with red wax and thus have a form reminiscent of a rose. It is an interesting landmark, which is a daily reminder of the difficult days during the siege of Sarajevo. After the tour we think about eating burek, but soon we give up because we are still full from Ćevapi. We were still walking a little, so we decided to try salep, a sweet and very tasty beverage made of the plant of the same name. With the addition of cinnamon it makes the ideal beverage for such a cold day. After a short refreshment we buy baklava and return to the hotel.
At the hotel we first watched souvenirs and satisfied with the purchased we got everything ready for the trip home. We summarized the whole trip and I must admit that we were truly delighted with this city. Sarajevo has a different vibe, leaves you with the sense of the East that Croatian cities don’t have. Also, the people who live here are warm and dear, at least the ones we met. It’s a real pleasure to stay here.
It’s Sunday, which means the day has come to return home. I have to admit I was a little sad, because I could stay here a lot longer. We left in the morning. A little more time in the city and then we were off to the station. To make the trip easier for us, We had lunch and after that we took the bus back to Croatia.
The trip seemed to have lasted forever. In Jajce, the road was closed because of a landslide, so we had to go around. And it had its perks, otherwise we would not have seen the beautiful Pliva Lake and the picturesque mountains. At the border we waited a long time for checks, but it didn’t bother us. Soon we arrive in Zagreb and by train we go to Karlovac. Although we were already tired, we were really happy with this trip and we look forward to the next visit to this special town, but also to the beautiful hilly regions Bosnia and Herzegovina.