Welcome to Sarajevo
Trip Start Oct 20, 2010
79Trip End May 03, 2011
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Where I stayed
Cue one taxi ride later and I was dropped off outside my hostel. I was expecting good things from this place, as my Rough Guides book describes it as "possibly the perfect hostel." But, to bo honest, I've been a little disappointed with it. OK, I had a dorm room to myself for 3 nights for less than £10 a night which was nice, and there is free wifi and satellite TV in the lounge and the location is good, but there's just something about it that is kind of poor.
There was a big list of rules posted on the room door which was offputting, and a big disclaimer saying they reserve the right to throw you out if you broke any of them (including sitting on/putting things on any bed that wasn't yours, even if it wasn't occupied!) Laundry was expensive (€10 for a wash and a dry, and another rule saying no handwashing or drying in the rooms...) and the headroom on the bottom bunks was ridiculous
Anyway, the city itself is beautiful. It doesn't feel like a capital city at all, although I suppose that has something to do with it having a population of less than 400,000. On the first day I did a bit of Geocaching and also had a general wander around town. Found the Latin Bridge, and stood in the exact place that Gavrilo Princip stood when he shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, and started the First World War. That was great for a history nerd like me.
Also saw the old town and the old Ottoman covered market, as well as taking a walk along the riverfront to the city hall/national library, which suffered heavy bombing during the siege in the 1990s.
Speaking of the siege, one of the most unusual features of Sarajevo are what is known as Sarajevo Roses. For the uninitiated, these are areas where mortar shells hit and took small chunks out of pavement or road, often making the shape of a flower. Some have been filled in and some are left how they are, but (so I believe) if there is a Rose where more than 3 people were killed, they are filled in with red resin as a memorial
I saw a few such shell sites, but only one that was filled in with red. It was a stark reminder that only 15 years ago, within my living memory, this city was under siege, and horrific crimes were committed here. Besides these permanent scars, there is very little physical evidence of what happened, as most of the buildings that were affected have been repaired. Testament I think to the spirit of the people that live here, and their desire to carry on with their lives.
Last night I had some Mexican food at a cantina in the old town (I was as surprised as you...) and decided to return there for lunch today. If you ever go to Hacienda, I recommend the chilli quesadillas, and their homemade lemonade is excellent! Anyway, I'm off to Mostar in a bit for a stop over on my way to Croatia to see the Stary Most bridge, which is apparently famed for its beauty. Adios!