The many faces of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
From Dubrovnik we jumped back on the bus and headed over to Sarajevo, the capital of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina. I was really excited to see this city, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. To be honest, I didn’t know exactly why I was excited to see it, since I didn’t know a whole lot about it, other than the fact that Winter Olympics were held there the year I was born (which was also the same year the Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles, where I am from. Back when the Summer and Winter Olympics used to be held the same year.) But probably mostly because of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Eve in Sarajevo song (which can be viewed here). I had seen the video years ago and the images always stuck with me. Such a hauntingly beautiful, yet sad song, when combined with the images of Bosnia and the war. But other than that, I really didn’t know a whole lot about it. I didn’t realize it was such a culturally, ethnically, architecturally and religiously diverse city. Sarajevo is like no other city I have ever been to, and I was completely fascinated! I think it was the highlight of the entire trip for me, and I highly recommend a visit!
Not only is it a visually intriguing city, but it’s also a treat for your taste buds! In the old city (and really, everywhere) good, cheap food is to be had in abundance! I can’t think of any other place where I have wandered in and out of bakeries and pastry shops just sampling this and that and not worrying about the prices. (Until the last day when we were trying to carefully allot our money to last long enough but not leave us with change we couldn’t exchange) We ate Ćevapi like it was going out of style. And because it was cold at night, we were constantly dropping by cute little cafes to warm up and drink hot chocolate or tea. It’s so much fun being able to try new places and foods without constantly watching the prices!
We spent two days in Sarajevo and I think that was the perfect amount of time to see everything, although I would have liked to stay just one day more so I could keep eating, ha. Despite all the Ćevapi we ate (even in Croatia), I don’t have a single picture of it! It was never super aesthetically pleasing, but it sure tasted good.
Despite our initial thought of “welcome to Moscow” when we first arrived in Sarajevo (literally, it looked like a slightly different version of Moscow. ie, there were hills.), gradually we started to find all the places that looked different than Moscow and which gave it its “East meets West” reputation. Granted, Soviet-style buildings are everywhere, but they were also interspersed with buildings from both the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian periods. Such an odd, but fascinating clash of cultures and buildings. And the fact that almost all of them are riddled with shrapnel and bullet holes only adds to the mystique of the city. I must admit, though, that due to the fact that crumbling, war-torn buildings tower overhead all around as you walk down the street, the eerie presence of war seems to hover in the air. At least for me it did. I don’t know that I could ever just walk cavalierly down the street and not feel the somber, weightiness of war history constantly pulling me back in time. While I absolutely loved our visit, I left Sarajevo thinking that that is one city I could never live in. [Despite all the wonderful food. Which I am now craving.]
From the bad and the ugly to the good and the tasty, this city is one you will never forget! Next time I will post about the Tunnel Museum in Sarajevo. Not to be missed when you visit!