WHERE EAST MEETS WEST

Trip Start Sep 14, 2012
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Trip End Oct 15, 2012


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Where I stayed
Pension Skend
What I did
The old town of Sarajevo

Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina  ,
Saturday, October 6, 2012

Got up at 0515 with Arjan's alarm. Two of three ablutions done and down early. The drinkers from last night were down last, plus slowing things down in the bus terminal re food items.

Up in the bus and off at 0615. Arjan asked me to save him a seat on the R side which meant I got stuck on the sun side; won't happen again! He waited behind to make sure his bag got loaded. There were chances for it to still disappear, quite apart from the fact Zsolt was there to monitor our bags. Don't be such a worry wart, Dutchman!

Headed off on E-70, Sarajevo just 326k away at 0637. On a toll road at 0644 but just for 20M, signalling the long day on the backroads. We were on highway 21, passing through agricultural lands, heading toward Sabac, followed up by highway 19 in the direction of Loznica.

Stopped at 0748 for an excruciatingly long 32M. I had most of my hotel-prepared breakkie to pass the time. I rested for most of the 0800 hour, my sore neck being proof thereof. Loznica was skirted at 0900.

We started to climb some hilly terrain, time passing. It was a slow climb, passing through hill towns. I am one tired dude. These roads were not made for inter-city bus traffic, yet alone transport trucks. The road we were on was nevertheless an arterial road. The sun is indeed warm on the driver's left side of the bus. Cabbages have yet to be harvested. Logging is carried on in the area.

We reached the Serbian border at 0924. Passports were surrendered to authorities as we waited on the bus. We headed over the Drina River at 0943, no additional stamp in the passport. On the Bosnian side the stamp was illegible and we were off at 1011, the bus heading to a refueling point.
The initial leg of travel in Bosnia began at 1018, the old bag in the seat in front of me sniffling away at such proportions she must have been seeking Guinness Book of Records' status.

We followed the Drina River southbound initially, fishermen trying their luck in the local waters. Saw my first mosque [of many] in the country as we left Zvornik. The riverside area was quite pretty.

Had the brekkie apple as we returned to the hills. The hoary old tune 'Old bus driver, speed up a little bit' was apt but he was undoubtedly tied into a timetable as he proceeded along. He was a courteous driver, often letting vehicles pass.

Many places seemed like ghost towns but it was the heat of the day. Still, it was a Saturday and some semblance of people would have been expected. Locals were getting water out of a spring. The pattern was climb, a quick stop in a town and climb some more.

By 1145 we hit a downslope for variety. A saddle followed. There was a short uphill segment after high noon, forests yielding to livestock country.

I must have been nodding off more than I realized as it was 1252 and I couldn't account for time. Saw the first sign for a ski resort at 1310, giving me a sense we were finally closing in on Sarajevo.
 
The city was spotted at 1332. It is large and mosques largely dominated the skyline. We got off and then walked some 200m to the local tram. Same was a 25 minute plus ride, some locals seemingly grousing about the lack of seats, no greater offender than John who took an extra one for his backpack.

A 5m walk had us at the Pension Skend. It has Turkish ownership so we had to take our shoes off on entering, presented with slippers. Nathalie struggled mightily with her bag, reminding me of Loser Lynn on the Tibet trip getting Sonia to carry her bag for her. If you can't handle your own bag, you either have brought too much or shouldn't be here. Arjan and I have separate ablution facilities which is nice.

The afternoon walk started at 1520. Zsolt took the group to a raft of ATM machines but I needed a cambio. While he later pointed out the location of same, he said I shouldn't do it now [he had given me 20 Bosnian marks] which was dumb: local currency in one's pocket is a feeling of relief, the completion of the transition between countries. Arjan would be my day's banker.

Just snacks as dinner hour was looming. Had a nice ice cream. Some tried a local pastry but the Local Losers aka Gavin, John, Bozo Ben and Justine all went to McDonald's. You know you are traveling with tourists when that happens.

Zsolt took us to the City Pub. Only one of the Local Losers [John] had a beer. Sarajevska is locally brewed, our later guide Mohammed saying its quality has diminished with a recent change in ownership. Better than the Serbian offering but not high marks overall. Mobile phones should be banned on trips, losers Gavin and Bozo Ben ignorantly on them. Bozo Ben was asking Zsolt about our departure time from Sarajevo three days away: dumb de dumb dumb.

Went to a bridge over the barely running Miljacka River where we met the very affable Mohammed. As Zsolt was leaving, he whispered 2-3 euro tip for his friend. His act is wearing a little thin.

Mohammed is gregarious, a roly poly figure, with very pale green eyes. He has been doing tours here for 10 years. Temperature-wise this year, Sarajevo has gone from -27C to 44C. The Balkan War killed 11,541 civilians. The city is 85% Muslim. Gavin, change shampoos: nice dandruff!

Mohammed's walking tour was better than that of Boyanna, in part due to the fact he was more lively in his descriptions of his city and his set blurbs were shorter. We walked mostly in the old town. He explained the Bosnian coffee procedure, followed by a stop at the Morica Han, the largest caravanserai in the city. We visited the grounds of the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, the largest in the old town. The old and new town are side by side at one point along the pedestrian mall, the buildings of the old town [and the east] changing with those of the new town [and the west]. Our tour ended at the Cathedral of Jesus' Heart where we met up again with Zsolt.

Went to Dveri for dinner. It was a nice place, quirky with its interior [lots of garlic and chili peppers hanging down]. The music was Memphis blues and New Orleans' jazz. The place was fine. My squid plate was a bit light on the squid and heavy on the salad component. Just asking for a large draft, not sure if I got another Sarajevska or a Lasko [what was on the glass]. John was asking about what 3 songs one would take to a desert island, certainly more interesting than holding court with Local Losers Bozo Ben and Justine about cooking turkeys.

Back to the square re the cambio but naturally closed; thanks, Zsolt. While Arjan and I detoured to get back, we somehow managed to pass Ian/Jill and the trip hangovers on the way back. The Local Losers undoubtedly went out drinking.

A quick look at email and just scratched the surface of the diary before bagging out at 2200.


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