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Off The Beaten Track in Bosnia and Herzegovina - julia_t explores

Off The Beaten Track in Bosnia and Herzegovina - julia_t explores

Jun 2nd, 2010, 10:35 AM
  #21  
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Thank you all for your kind comments.

Here is the next installment...


VISOKO

Now I heard about the ‘discovery’ of a pyramid in Bosnia some years ago. A Bosnian researcher and archaeologist, Semir Osmanagic, who is based in Houston and has worked extensively on the pyramids in Central and South America and Egypt, is convinced these are genuine pyramids. Apparently these hills are perfectly aligned as are other pyramids around the world, and the 3 main ones here form a perfect equilateral triangle with exactly 2150m between each summit. I was intrigued, if somewhat sceptical, but wouldn’t it be great if it were true?

I could write a load of stuff about it all, but it is easier to just post the links…

http://www.piramidasunca.ba/en/

http://www.bosnianpyramid.com/

When I realised I would be passing within a few miles of this interesting place, I decided I’d like to go and have a look

I followed the signs to the Pyramid of the Sun, and the road climbed up, eventually leading to a parking place with a souvenir shop and a couple of cafes/bars. I was told ‘up, lots of steps, up’. So off I set, and started climbing the steep hillside. The steps were each faced with a plank of wood, with no rail to hold on to, and vanished into the wooded area towards the top. It was tough going, and my vertigo was lurking closely! Going up was OK, but I wondered how I might get down without a rail as going up you can’t see the drop, but going down you can. Oh well, I supposed I could always come down on my bottom! In photos I’d seen there was a road for vehicles right up close to the Pyramid so I though maybe I could go down that way.

The staircase led into the trees, and continued up. Then the path disappeared. In front of me were some rectangular slabs of rock, sort of placed together to make a shallow ramp. Was this part of the Pyramid? I don’t know. Then I found another path with more steps and followed this. The there were more slabs in a steeper ramp – was this the causeway leading up that I’d read about? Whatever, I seemed to have come to a bit of a dead end.

I stopped and decided to turn back. It was hot and I was getting weary. There were lots of lizards around in the sunny spots, and while I am not scared of snakes I was wearing sandals and didn’t particularly want to come across a snake on the path! I was the only person up there as far as I knew - I'd seen no-one else at all - and if I were bitten… Hmmm. But I had other reasons for turning back as well.

Since I’ve been home I’ve had a chance to think about this, and there was something quite odd about it all up there. It was absolutely silent. In all those trees you would expect birdsong, but there was nothing. It was dead quiet. I had my camera with me, and didn’t take a single picture. OK, that doesn’t sound particularly strange, but my son is studying archaeology and when I told him about the Pyramids he asked me to take some pictures as he’d be interested. Yet something held me back. It just felt really creepy up there.

On the way back down a small boy of about 7 or 8 was playing on the steps about half way up – or maybe it was half way down! Anyway he started to tell me about the Pyramids of the Sun, the Moon, the Dragon, the Earth and Love, and the tunnels that supposedly connect them all. He accompanied me down the rest of the steps which was great as I forgot all about vertigo, but I soon realised that the only English he knew was the names of the pyramids and the word tunnel! But he was very cute.

Down at the car park area – only half-way down the whole hill, he ran off with some other boys, and I headed for a café for a cool drink. An orange Fanta at Restaurant Vidikovac was 1 euro. Interesting that I was asked to pay in euro – so this must be very much a tourist site.

I did take a photo from here of the Pyramid of the Moon and one up the hill of the Sun Pyramid, but those were the only photos I took. To be honest, while the cut stone slabs could well have been part of a pyramid, while driving around I saw lots of pointy-topped hills all of which ‘might’ have been a pyramid.

So I am still sceptical, but will await further results with interest. Incidentally a big national dig just started on 1st June, maybe there will be some genuine proof soon.
julia_t is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2010, 06:41 AM
  #22  
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SARAJEVO

The conflict of the 1990s is still remarkably recent, and fresh in many minds. I think it important for anyone visiting this part of the world to spend a few minutes remembering what happened and how these people and their country suffered. I won’t go as far as saying it will enhance your visit, but it certainly adds an extra dimension. There are lots of films out there, but here are just two…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SONUDsK3hfc&feature=fvw 2mins30

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KieH9...eature=related 6mins

I drove into Sarajevo along the main road into the city. This was known as Sniper Alley. It is 3-4 lanes on each side of the tram tracks. You can see up into the hills on either side of the road, so the road would have made an easy target to stop any vehicle trying to get into the town. On the valley floor between the road and the hills are many blocks of flats - apartment buildings. These were where the snipers lay in wait.

Along this road is the National Museum in a beautiful Austro-Hungarian building, and next to it is a concrete and glass socialist-era building which houses the History Museum. Opposite is the yellow Holiday Inn where the journalists holed up. All these buildings took a battering but now they are completely restored.

After a few kilometres the road joins the river Miljacka, which is spanned by many bridges. I was surprised it was so narrow. Somehow I had expected a wider river as in other European capital cities, like the Seine, the Thames, the Tiber, the Danube. Along the river are a real mix of architectural styles, with lovely Austro-Hungarian buildings interspaced with grim grey apartments blocks and a few more modern buildings.

The road is one-way now, and by the National Library which is still under restoration and swathed in a protective mesh, it loops round the tip of the Bascarsija and back along in the other direction. At this juncture it is joined by the road to Tuzla.

I knew that once I’d turned round the corner I would need to turn right across the tram tracks to find my hotel which was somewhere up on the right. I saw the signs at once and pulled in to a side road. Parking was across the street but I wasn’t sure where so I called the hotel and Fatima the receptionist (who was wonderfully helpful and spoke excellent English) came out to direct me. The guarded parking was indeed just across the street and while I had a bit of trouble squeezing my car into the space reserved for me, all was fine. I paid the attendant for the 2 days my car would be there – 15KM (7.50 euros) and went to check in.

HOTEL SAFIR

http://www.hotelsafir.ba/engleski/index.php

This is in an old traditional Bosnian street called a ‘sokak’ which leads off a side street. The front is narrow, modern and glass-fronted. The door is kept locked most of the time so you have to ring the bell but there is someone on call 24hours. During the day this seemed to be Fatima who couldn’t have been more helpful.

I had reserved a single room for 98KM (50 euros) a night. I was shown into 1A1 which was on the ground floor. It was a large light airy room with twin beds, wooden floor, a large bathroom and all was spotlessly clean. In the kitchen area there was a kettle, fridge with minibar, a 2-ring hob, a little sink. Also plates, glasses, cutlery, even a corkscrew! There was everything I needed; there was a hairdryer, paper slippers and a good reading light. My only complaint is that the towels were quite small. They were changed the second day, and ended up being even smaller!

The hotel is less than 50m from the Sebili Fountain in the heart of the Bascarsija. I considered it an excellent location, and it was quiet at night too, yet I felt perfectly safe walking back to it in the dark. Yes, I would definitely stay there again, and recommend it highly. It is really good value for the price.
julia_t is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2010, 11:12 AM
  #23  
 
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@Julia,
With the impatience I am expecting new part of your travelogue. I am delighted with the description of Travnik. I recommend you to read "Bosnian Chronicle", a.k.a. "Travnik Chronicle", Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andric's novel:

http://www.amazon.com/Bosnian-Chroni.../dp/1559702362
kostake_nenishanu is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2010, 05:26 PM
  #24  
 
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Julia,

I am enjoying every bit of your intrepid adventure - and it is intrepid - to places and regions rarely heard of on this forum.
I admire your daring, your conscience and your sensitivity in the places and people you've met, and taking us all with you now, in recollection. Well done and looking forward to the rest.

M.

PS I visited Dubrovnik and Bosnia (Medugorje) in 2004 and felt much like you have described wrt the remnants of war now to be seen.
Mathieu is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2010, 11:26 PM
  #25  
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kostake...

Welcome to Fodors. I have found your advice on tripadvisor most helpful in recent months, and hope you will be able to offer advice here too.

Mathieu...

Thank you. I am having difficulty sorting out my feelings about Sarajevo, so am just trying to keep to the facts of my visit.

I found it quite emotional, seeing and being where so many innocent people lived in fear. Yet they have rebuilt the city and their lives, and I feel that the visible reminders are important for the rest of the world to know that it was not all right to stand by and let it happen, and that it must never happen again.

More about the city soon!
julia_t is offline  
Jun 4th, 2010, 10:12 AM
  #26  
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I crossed the road over to the Sebili Fountain with a spring in my step. I was exhilarated to be here at last, after 4 years of planning. And a part of my exhilaration was that I didn’t have to get behind the wheel of a car for 2 days and could therefore relax! Oh, it was a blissful feeling!

It was very crowded around here, and as I walked on down I realised I had left my map, guide book (the pocket-sized Thomas Cook City Spot – Sarajevo), and my printed pages of this, that and t’other, pages full of snippets of information I’d been storing up over the years about things I might want to see and do. Oh well, it didn’t really matter as I was headed towards the Tourist Information to get myself booked on a Tunnel Tour – something that was high on my list of places to see.

I asked for directions at a bookshop called Connectum, where there was a nice café outside. It was here I bought the book Black Soul, and a lemonade – which was actually a lemon presse. With a couple of sachets of sugar it was a most refreshing drink – temperatures had been 27C on the car dial when I’d pulled into the car park. And it helped suppress hunger pangs as it was now after 2pm and I’d not eaten since that depressing breakfast in Travnik. Ana who served me spoke English well, and I found the TI office easily – but they were closed for another half hour! Time for lunch I thought. I passed lots of cafes – Sarajevo must surely be the centre of the café culture! But they were cafes for sitting and drinking coffee. Wandering along the main street, Ferhadija, I spotted a sign pointing off the street into a sort of courtyard (it looked quite Parisian really!) and was labelled (I think, I can’t read my notes!) something like Sedef of Seher – and the words Bosnian Kitchen. Well, it was the Bosnian Kitchen bit that pulled me in. There were 4 tables down this alleyway, I suppose more inside but I didn’t look. I sat down, ordered a Pleca Salate (Chicken Salad) for 5KM, tap water, and one of those little 20cl bottles of Grasevina. The salad was pleasant enough, though a little too much sweetcorn in it for my liking. I made sure I learnt the word for corn - kukuruz - so I could say ‘neh’ to kurkuruz in future! 10KM (5 euros) covered the entire meal.

Back at the Tourist Office I was told there were tours to the Tunnel for 12 euros (24KM) daily at 11am and 2pm. I asked for the morning tour, my thinking being I planned to visit the National Museum the next day as well, and if it were hot in the afternoon I’d rather be indoors. But they told me the 11am tour probably wouldn’t take place as there have to be a minimum of 3 people, so I agreed to go on the 2pm tour, and they told me where to get the tour bus in a park across the river. I also got a map from them.

I started walking along the river, and came to Despic House. This is a museum now, but originally the house belonged to a wealthy orthodox family named Despic. Apart from being a fascinating insight into how a wealthy Ottoman family would have lived, Despic House is an important historically due to the fact that the first theatre plays in Sarajevo took place here. It is considered to be a predecessor of modern theatre. Entrance was 2KM. It was very interesting, there is a copy of the last will and testament (drawn up on 29 March 1921) of Hatji Makso Despic, which is very moving, and reveals what a good man he must have been. It ends with the line ‘’These orders are only for me, but let them be a lesson to every living brother and friend of sound mind and common sense’’

Next stop was the Latinska Cuprija, also know as the Princip Bridge. This is where the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofia were shot by Gavrilo Princip on 28 June 1914, thus being a catalyst for WW1, which in turn led to WW2. It could also be said that the Cold War and later the Bosnian conflict were continuations of this. Therefore this is a truly historical spot. I must admit I felt a shiver down my spine standing here, thinking about the consequences of this one incident.

I spent some more time just roaming in the Bascarsija, and I had a cup of tea (Black Tea-- with milk) at Morica Han. This is in the courtyard of an ancient coaching inn, the name means ‘castle of the caravans’. It is a very pleasant setting to have a drink or a meal.

Then I returned to Hotel Safir to shower and rest a little before dinner. On the way I stopped at a Konzum supermarket and bought a bottle of Herzegovian wine and some savoury snacks.

I’ve nearly finished labelling the Sarajevo photos, so will post them over the weekend, along with more about Sarajevo.
julia_t is offline  
Jun 4th, 2010, 11:57 PM
  #27  
 
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I am still enthralled by this report! Loving it!
lincasanova is offline  
Jun 5th, 2010, 09:43 AM
  #28  
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Thank you lincasanove, it's good to know you are enjoying all this. I though there might have been a bit too much detail.

To complete my first day in Sarajevo, I crossed the river to Inat Kuca, also know as the Spite House. This is due to a story whereby the house was originally on the other side of the river. In 1862, when the Austrians wanted to build the Town Hall there, the owner refused to sell, and out of ill-will and spite, insisted the house be moved brick by brick across the river.

I was able to get a table outside on the terrace by the river. I ordered the 'sahan' which is a mixed Bosnian platter, along with a season's salad and yet another small bottle of Grasevina. This is a problem with travelling alone - they don't do jugs of house wine in many places, and ordering a full 75cl bottle is too much for one. I'd have loved to try more local wines.

My sahan (14KM/7 euros)consisted of an array of meats - as cevapi, meatballs in a sauce, kebabs, dolmas, stuffed tomatoes, peppers and onions. Overall it was very tasty, though there were a few -shall we say 'crunchy'? - bits in the minced meats which I found a little repellent. It is one reason why I didn't eat more cevapi on my visit! The salad was as you'd expect - and 'neh kukuruz'! Delicious fresh young cucumber though.

The sun was going down as I finished my meal, and the sky turned pink over the city, framed by the hills and mountains on either side. The total bill was 26KM (13 euros).

I walked back through the Bascarsija, and bought an ice cream cone on the way - peach I think it was, for 1KM. I felt totally safe here, and returned to my hotel around 9.30pm.

Today I also passed by - several times - the Gazi Husrev-Beg mosque. This is the only mosque open to the public in the Old Town, but at set times and I missed those times. I did take some photos of the courtyard and the birdcage fountain there. There is also a bathhouse in the courtyard, and a Medressa - an Islamic school founded in 1537 - across the street. This is the biggest and busiest Mosque in Sarajevo. It is said to have a gorgeous ceiling decorated with an azure-blue and gold-leaf geometric design, designed by a Persian architect in the 1500s. Maybe I'd get the times right tomorrow.

I also went to visit the Old Orthodox Church because I wanted to see the wall of icons and paintings inside. There is evidence of a Christian sacred site here, dating back to the 6th century, though the current building only dates back to 1730. There are two beautiful semi-circular frescoes above the doors outside which I photographed. Unfortunately this church is currently undergoing renovation and I could not go inside. I'm not sure if the little museum there is also closed. As I'd got none of my info with me I forgot about it at the time.

Definitely more photos tomorrow!
julia_t is offline  
Jun 5th, 2010, 09:46 AM
  #29  
 
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I can tell you should I ever be fortunate enough to make this trip I will practically be following your footsteps!
lincasanova is offline  
Jun 5th, 2010, 02:17 PM
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In Old Orthodox Church they had an accident with fire a few weeks ago, and that is reason for closing, probably.

Inside the Old Orthodox church is the "child's grave." Restorer of the church from 18th century were digging at the foundations of the Church found the remains of a child. This dead child among the peoples of all faiths, Islamic, Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish, became sacred. The child was placed in a small coffin on a beautifully decorated table. Women of all faiths who would have trouble to bring a new life should pass three times under the table with "child's grave" on it on the knees, believing that it will help them to become pregnant and bring into the world their healthy newborn.

Opposite of "Bey's Mosque" near the western entrance to the courtyard there there is a public toilet - Bey's Hala, which is in function since 1531 year, continuously. In my opinion, that is the oldest public toilet in the Europe, which is still in use. Today using of it is free of charge.

Clock on the tower in the yard of Bey's Mosque has another name: "Litle Big Ben". Late 18th Ages clock mechanism was out of order, so the rich people of Sarajevo raise money for a new clock mechanism, which was purchased in London, in the same workshop where was made the London Big Ben clock mechanism.
kostake_nenishanu is offline  
Jun 6th, 2010, 08:34 AM
  #31  
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Next morning I was out before 8.30am, and was able to get some pictures of the Sebili Fountain without being crammed with people. The Bascarsija was just opening up, and most of the people there were all locals on their way to work. I walked along Ferhardija – the main pedestrian street running through this part of town.

Today was May 27th, the anniversary of when people queuing on this street (then called Vase Miskina) for bread in 1992 were hit by a mortar shell. 22 men, women and children lost their lives and many more were injured. The following day the principal cellist with the Sarajevo Opera Orchestra, Vedran Smailovic, took his cello out into the crater left by the shell and played Albinoni’s Adagio in G. He did this every day despite the risk of snipers, for 22 days, in memory of his friends and neighbours who were killed. This was the inspiration for Steven Galloway’s book, the Cellist of Sarajevo, although the actual story focuses on three other characters who are all victims of the siege.

Around Sarajevo there are ‘Sarajevo Roses’. These are places in the streets where mortar shell explosions left damage, and these have been filled in with a deep pink concrete. I saw quite a few of these but felt it too voyeuristic to photograph them, knowing that in many cases people had died or been injured at those places.

There were some people setting up speakers at the place where this is supposed to have happened, and a film crew. I supposed there would be some sort of memorial service. I sat at Café Dialog on the edge of Liberation Square and had a cappuccino.

Now Sarajevo is well-known for its café culture, and in particular its coffee. Strong Bosnian coffee, served Turkish style. Not being much of a coffee drinker myself I could not bring myself to try this strong brew. The cappuccino was plenty strong enough for me!

I walked up to the main traffic street to get a tram to the National Museum which opened at 10am. Along this street is the Merkale Market where I bought some cherries. In this market 68 people lost their lives when a mortar shell slammed into it in February 1995. Their names are on a memorial plaque which fills the entire wall at the back.

I bought two tickets at a ‘tisak’ – a wooden kiosk selling newspapers, cigarettes etc. They were 1.6KM each. The National Museum can be reached by most of the trams that pass along this street, look for numbers 2,3,5 which all go there. I wasn’t sure how many stops it would be but I knew I needed to get off by the Holiday Inn. It turned out to the the 4th stop – I got on at the one called Kathedrala – by the cathedral obviously!

When I arrived it was only 9.45 but the doors were open. I was told I could wait in the garden which I did. This was very pleasant. There were lots of old tombstones – called steccae – which were intricately carved.

The museum consists of 4 buildings round this garden. One is a library to which the public do not have admission. The other three building each house a different museum. I virtually had the museum to myself, I saw only 3 other people until the Natural History department where there was a school visit. It was 5KM to enter.

http://www.zemaljskimuzej.ba/index-en.php

I started with the Archaeology department. I am not much of a museum person but I found this really quite interesting. On one side of the entrance hall there is a huge empty room, well, empty except for a long glass case containing a boat or canoe, hewn from a single tree truck. I measured it at 16 paces so it must be around 30 feet long. There was also one other glass case containing a skeleton with some armour. The beautiful decorated ceiling is coming down so this side is under repair. On the other side there was a large room full of pieces of stone carvings, statues, mosaics, along with pottery and small carved animals. There is no signing in English but it is not difficult to work out that a vase labelled ‘Rodos 1-3 st’ means it came from Rhodes in the 1st to 3rd centuries!

Up a grand staircase were more rooms with swords, spears, armour, arrow tips, some wicked looking spurs. There was also some beautiful glass from the XV century, amazingly one vase looked to be intact. There there was jewellery – rings with gemstones, earrings galore, mostly huge hoops, buttons, buckles and pins. There were lots of writings dating from the 11th and 12th centuries.

Finally, in a room glowing violet at the end was the Sarajevo Haggadah.

http://www.haggadah.ba/?x=1

http://www.croatianhistory.net/etf/hagg.html

The room is maybe 12 foot square, lit by UV light. The doorway is glassed over so you can’t enter, and the little book itself is in a case - an ‘ark’ of wood and glass. Other manuscripts are in glassed alcoves around the walls.

Outside the door is an interactive display which was fascinating. Apart from viewing the incredible history of this sacred book which has survived so much, you can see copies of the first 30 or so pages. It truly is beautiful, the colours are so vivid and the detail is wonderful. For example, in the depictions of the plague of lice, the people can be seen scratching!

I proceeded to the Department of Ethnology, which had toys, new and old. It was touching to see crude carved wooden cars with tin-can lids for wheels and crudely-made dolls made from cloth scraps. Upstairs was a series of rooms which had been brought from other houses around Bosnia, to illustrate how a wealthy urban family lived a century or more ago. Wonderful carved wooden ceilings, embroidered wall hangings, and traditional furniture were set off by a series of models dressed in traditional costumes. They were very lifelike, and I could almost fancy them coming to life when the museum was closed…

Next it was on to the Natural History building. In the entrance hall were bones and tusks from a woolly mammoth. Upstairs was a large room filled with cases of butterflies, insects, and all sort of beetles and creepy-crawlies. The schoolchildren were oohing and aahing and urghing over these. Not my thing at all though I admit that some of the butterflies were gorgeous colours. In the hallway and room on the other side were masses of glass cases filled with stuffed animals from mice to bears, and so many birds of every kind imaginable – even vultures. A taxidermist’s idea of heaven I should think, but not mine! I left after only a few minutes.

Next to the National Museum is the Bosnian Historical Museum. 5KM entry. This is in a socialist-era concrete and glass building that looks quite run down. Upstairs is an exhibition featuring the wars of the last century. Most moving is the display on the siege of Sarajevo. There are many photos of the city during this time, from wounded citizens lying in the streets with UN soldiers hiding behind armoured vehicles, to children carrying sacks of supplies. The pictures drawn by children are heartbreaking, and there is an array of makeshift stoves put together from paint tins and baked bean cans. This was what people had to heat their water and cook their meagre meals on when there was no electricity for weeks at a time. There is not much more I can say about this place, it speaks for itself.

I crossed the street to the tramlines in the centre to get a tram back into the city.
Time for a quick lunch!

I went to Ascinica ASDZ. This is between 2 streets, Mali Curciluk and Kundurdzilak. Here you choose what you would like to eat at the counter from a wide range of Bosnian dishes. I had a sort of chicken fritter, and lots of stuffed vegetables for 10KM plus a bowl of salad (2KM) and a Fanta limon (3KM). When you have chosen you sit down and your selection is brought to you with a basket of lovely soft flatbread. This is not a place to linger, and it seems to serve many local people. There was a rapid turnover of suited businessmen, women in smart skirts and blouses, soldiers, Muslim women and workmen in paint-stained jeans. Everyone just ate and left, but it was a place for everyone with tasty food, and a very nice restroom.

Yes, restrooms – I could write a chapter on these! But I will refrain. I will just say that they vary from very nice to holes in the floor. Say no more!

Coming up – the Brewery, Tunnel Museum, and fabulous views down to and across the city from up in the hills.
julia_t is offline  
Jun 6th, 2010, 08:38 AM
  #32  
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And here's the Photos for Sarajevo.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/5070021...7624049996331/

You get descriptions of what's what if you click on slideshow and then the 'show info' tab
julia_t is offline  
Jun 6th, 2010, 01:57 PM
  #33  
 
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julia,

I'm just now reading your fascinating report. So little is known of the Balkans; thank you for this wonderful description.

It's particularly meaningful to me because my daughter, who is half-way through her master's program in international human rights, arrived in Sarajevo this past Thursday. She is doing an internship there for the summer. So far she loves it and the people she's going to be working with have been wonderful to her. I'm going to send her the link to your report which I know she'll love.

Some women in her organization have offered to take her with them when they drive to Dubrovnik. Should I be concerned about the drive? My husband and I drove to Mostar and back (by way of Medjugorje) from Dubrovnik. I'm like you when it comes to mountain roads and I don't remember feeling terrified, but we didn't go all the way to Sarajevo. I guess it doesn't make much difference; if she wants to go, she'll go regardless of how much I worry

Your pictures are beautiful. Mostar was a last-minute day drip for us, so I hadn't done any research. What struck me was all the bombed out and bullet-riddled buildings which haven't been repaired or torn down yet. It looks like you saw some in Sarajevo, but overall, it looks like they've done significant repairs.

Looking forward to reading more!

Ellen
ellen75005 is offline  
Jun 7th, 2010, 05:27 AM
  #34  
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kostake...

Thank you for those pieces of information about the Old Orthodox church - I hope it wasn't too badly damaged in the fire. I had read none of that in the guidebooks or online, same for the information about Little Big Ben.

ellen...

I am sure your daughter will have a wonderful time there - I'd love to have been able to spend more time there. You must be relieved she seems settled in already.

Don't be worried about the drive. It is quite a bit more twisty than the Mostar-Dubrovnik bit you've travelled along, but it is a main road and is well surfaced with good guard rails. The surrounding landscape is astonishing.

More repairs have been done in Sarajevo than Mostar though many buildings are still heavily pockmarked. I seem to remember in Mostar being told there are empty and abandoned buildings because either the owners and their families have either all died, or they were perpetrators of crimes and cannot return for fear of reprisal.

I have been sent a link to a film coming out in September/October called Sarajevo Roses.

http://vimeo.com/4562914
julia_t is offline  
Jun 8th, 2010, 01:38 AM
  #35  
 
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QUOTE:
I walked back through the Bascarsija, and bought an ice cream cone on the way - peach I think it was, for 1KM. I felt totally safe here, and returned to my hotel around 9.30pm.
END OF QUOTATION.

julia,
I did not spend to much time in the western countries. Is it safe to walk alone in the dark in your town? In Sarajevo, that is normal for whole my life, to walk in the streets in the nights. Also, for women.
kostake_nenishanu is offline  
Jun 8th, 2010, 10:00 AM
  #36  
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I am bogged down with work at the moment and just haven't the energy to finish this report at the moment. But I will do, because for those people wanting to venture farther afield, there is a distinct lack of information available, and if this helps just one person then it will be worth it.

Kostake...

In England, and the rest of the United Kingdom, we currently have 24 hours licensing laws, which means alcohol is on sale at all hours. There is what is called a 'binge drinking' culture, and in bars and clubs there are all sorts of deals on shots of spirits, which ultimately means that in the evenings and late at night there are lots of drunk people around.

Drunk people can be very aggressive and threatening. I have experienced this on occasion, and it wasn't at night but it was still very frightening.

So while it may be safe some of the time to walk in my town and other British towns and cities in the dark, at other times it can be asking for trouble.

In Sarajevo I felt safe.
julia_t is offline  
Jun 10th, 2010, 05:15 PM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
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My daughter has found Sarajevo to be very safe. In the Balkans, my husband and I have traveled in Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia and Croatia (and briefly in B-H) and have also felt very safe. Safer than in many cities of comparable size in the US, for sure. That's not to say one should be naive in any city anywhere in the world, but there's a very different feeling in the Balkans in my opinion.
ellen75005 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2010, 05:13 AM
  #38  
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When I’d finished my lunch I still had an hour before it was time to meet up in the At-Mejdan Park across the river for the Tunnel Tour. So I walked up the hill, along and down to the Sarajevska Pivara – the Sarajevo Brewery. This is built on a freshwater spring and was a vital source of water during the siege. In the book The Cellist of Sarajevo the story of one of the 3 main characters, Kenan, is his struggle to get water from here for his family and elderly beighbour. His journey through the besieged city and across the river is vividly described, along with his terror and feelings in inadequacy and helplessness.

The brewery is a magnificent building, painted a striking shade of deep puce with pale facings around the windows. I ventured inside to see the barrel-vaulted ceiling made of bricks. It is also a restaurant and apparently a lively place to go at night with bands and dancing. Anyway, it was 1.15pm and I ordered a glass of the light beer for 3KM. It had a distinct malt taste, and while being quite robust was also cold and refreshing. I walked back to the park passing by the Church of St Ante. There is a Franciscan Monastery here with a collection of manuscripts, books and paintings, though I did not realise that until later on.

I met with the Tunnel Tour guide in the park, and also in the tour were a group of graduate students from Springfield, Ohio. They were on an exchange visit, each doing a sociological study. They were good company.

The tour took us out of the city along Sniper Alley and the guide pointed out various buildings and places of interest. When we got to the house where the Tunnel is, we were all surprised because it really is in the middle of a residential village. The outside is very battered and pitted with shell holes, as are the surrounding houses. We were taken through to sit on benches and watch a film of about 10 minutes. This showed a lot of war and siege footage, along with footage of the tunnel being dug, and then in use. The students were absolutely silent during this, and sat shaking their heads in disbelief and awe at some of the atrocities shown. They had been in the city a week and obviously knew it better than I, and they recognised some of the places they had been and walked by in recent days being shelled or burned, and all this happening while they were still little more than toddlers. After the film we were allowed to descend into the tunnel and walk through the first 20m or so which is all that is still open. Outside again, it is sobering to look across the airport runway to the building 800m away where the tunnel came up. There is a small museum as well, with assorted paraphernalia of the siege, and some photos of celebrities who have visited. Daniel Craig and Richard Gere are two I remember. None of Brad and Angelina who had been in the city earlier in the month.

We returned to the city another way through the hills, which gave us a chance to take some pictures from above. A most impressive view.

The tour took about 2 hours in total, and cost 24KM or 12 euros. Certainly worth doing.
julia_t is offline  
Jun 11th, 2010, 06:41 AM
  #39  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Thanks Julia_t. Still enjoying this very much.
I reviewed your pictures after reading your latest chapter and could relate to them better. So much beauty amid the crushing historical sentiment.
Mathieu is offline  
Jun 12th, 2010, 05:28 AM
  #40  
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Thank you Mathieu - it's nice to know that this longer-than-intended report is still being read! Here's the last Sarajevo installment.

Ellen - I'm glad your daughter feels safe there, that must be a relief for you.

After the Tunnel Tour, I walked back into the Bascarsija. I hope the Mosque might be open but once again I’d missed it. In the Medressa opposite the mosque an Art Exhibition had opened that day, featuring ‘Alchemy 1970-2010’ by Edin Numankadic.
A Bosnian contemporary artist, his works include abstract paintings, and installations. There were a few paintings around the various rooms of the medressa, but in every room was at least one example of his Boxes cycle – these are boxes of varying sise containing an assortment of objects. To quote ‘’….by carefully confronting found objects he registers his reality in times of war and peace…’’ I found it interesting.

I did some shopping for gifts, and returned to the hotel. There is a taxi rank close to the hotel but I’d read some negative stuff about Sarajevo Taxis overcharging tourists, so I asked Fatima about getting a taxi up to a restaurant in the hills that evening. She said she couldn’t comment about any particular taxi firm, but Sarajevo Taxis would be OK if booked by her, and she would speak to the driver.

I had decided to eat up in the hills above the city, and hoped for a good sunset as it would be spectacular with the mountain backdrop. There are two restaurants mentioned as being good, both situated high up. Park Princeva is supposed to be the best, with lots of famous people as past diners, a good wine list and an impressive menu. It is also quite expensive. But – it serves European cuisine as opposed to Bosnian. So I chose to go to Kod Babina, which is even higher up the hill.

The taxi cost 8KM (4 euros). There is a terrace here with the most wonderful views all round the city. Truly panoramic. Unfortunately it was very windy up here and I decided to eat inside rather than stay out on the terrace. Many of the tables were occupied, some with diners others with people just drinking and enjoying the views.
There are big picture windows so you don’t miss any of the view by being inside.

The sunset was a bit disappointing as it was quite cloudy, but to see the city light up with skeins of silver and gold lights was lovely.

I ordered a Bosnian platter to start, which was a cured ham like prsut, with cheese and olives, followed by veal cutlets (all veal in BiH is free-range) and a side salad. I asked for white wine and was brought a small jug, maybe ¼ litre, 25cl. Apart from the veal which seemed to have a lot of bones and chewy bits the meal was pleasant enough and the total bill was 25KM (12.5 euros). The restaurant rang for a taxi for me – this time I was charged 10KM!

Another wander through the Bascarsija in the dusk and an ice cream, I think it was kiwi fruit this time, and my time in Sarajevo was almost over.

Next morning I breakfasted in the Bascarsija before checking out and setting off for Mostar.
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