Of the four countries, and five cities we visited on our European tour, I will empathically say, Bosnia was the ‘best’. Best is a tough thing to say when I explain why I found it the most impactful. This is a city that, IN MY CHILDHOOD, suffered a civil war for 44 months. People starved, for 44 months. I was in primary school. The world knew, but didn’t do anything. I chose to read about Sarajevo/Bosnia prior to coming, and also read two books whilst in Sarajevo (yes, I even bought new books, which is something I NEVER do, but am so glad I did do!). These books really helped me to understand how it was to be in Sarajevo during this time. I also dated a Bosnian whilst at university, and that is a large reason I ever learnt about Bosnia.
My brother, Rory, returned back to the UK two days before my departure. Once he was on his way to the airport, I joined a hostel tour of the tunnel under the aiport (and got to see my little bro’s plane take off), and then onto the Toboggan course.
Doing these posts two months after my trip help me realise how much I enjoyed my time. Sure – there were struggles like the steep hills in Sarajevo, the cash card not working in Romania, and mould in bathrooms in Turkey. However, on the balance, I saw so much. I learnt so much about four other cultures, four other countries, and their capital cities. My brother was an awesome travel buddy – we were lazy for a good half of the day, really taking the rest and recover part of the holiday seriously. I often felt ‘guilt’ about this – not making the most of where we were. For Rory, he was homeless by work and home circumstances, so didn’t have the same hang up. And I shouldn’t either! Concurrently to this trip were some things happening in Australia that were challenging. For that reason, I travelled for three weeks, rather than four weeks. It got shocked responses from people I told in Bosnia that I was going home early. But I was ‘done’. I was rested. I no longe rhad the drive and momentum to go to another new place. I didn’t want to search for a good deal for a place to stay, or a flight. Actually, I think I realised – I don’t actually like to PLAN holidays. I might consider outsouring that next time – I didn’t hate my two weeks in Japan when I was largely ‘scheduled’; that trip, I did seek a little more idle time, but as that two week trip developed, I ekked out that time. And having a tour or a guide can really help you understand a culture, and answer your questions as they come into your mind (rather than relying on google when you get back to wifi).
Our flights was “interesting”. There were a lot of children, and they weren’t particularly well disciplined. I think we heard ‘Please sit down’ close to 100 times on the PA by the flight attendant. I gather the children were not English speakers, and the flight attendants were not Turkish or Arabic speakers.
The husband of the couple that owned and ran the hostel collected us from the airport – this is not a city of Uber. There are taxis, but you can’t be sure they will be at the airport for the few flights that arrive. There are concerns about taxi rorts, but we took a few (and I took a few alone) and found them incredibly well priced!
So, we’ve had our first time zone snaffu. There’s a free daily walking tour at 10:30 and we made it to the location but there was no one. Somehow I considered that my phones time might have been wrong, which Rory confirmed. It was really 9:30, so we went in search of breakfast and found a swanky place with a buffet. All manner of egg based yummy – vanilla slice (uniced), some filo parcel containing chicken and capsicum, other egg thing. Then Rory got a cheesy potato fritter which was deceptively tastier than any version I’d ever attempt!!
It’s still lovely and fresh here this morning but the rain has cleared. It’s probably about 20C, so a bit cool in shorts but it’s due to warm up. Last night I was pleased to have jeans and a cotton jumper, it was certainly cold enough.
For dinner last night we wandered into the old town. Our hostel has given us a map they’ve designed and their favourite places, however I would suspect it’s angled at the budget conscious backpackers in our hostel. We met some girls when we cooked packet soup for lunch after getting sodden on our walk to the local shops. The two Brits were nice enough. Rory also has a nap later and when I was awake I went back to the kitchen and met more Brits, an Aussie, two québécois. Everyone seems to love and Rave about our hostel. It’s relatively small, perhaps 8 rooms and so I think it means it’s friendly. Sadly we failed to get the TV to work to watch the olympics.
Back to dinner. We picked a place called To Be, and it was also relatively small. We sat at the second table upstairs and there was four people at the other tables, clearly tourists/backpackers. Anyhow, we couldn’t really avoid their conversations and so ended up befriending them. There was an Israeli woman coupled with a Scot, and then the scots friend who works in UAE currently. Those three all seem to know each other, and then they had a Brazilian girl. The poor Brazilian girl stuffed up her hostel booking for the next night in Belgrade whilst at dinner, but as suspected, it all turned out fine. Very laid back culture with bookings etc. tho many report things are “filling up”. The majority of ways out of here is on buses of durations that extend to the whims of the drivers restaurant meals! Only one train per day supposedly. So it means people get all sorts of caught up, having only one proper day here or having to back track. Or spend 8+ hours on a bus! The couple at dinner had been south, and raves about Albania (pretty, friendly, not touristy). They were avoiding Croatia and all reports from hostellers is its full of Aussies! There was also nice things said about the nature of Montegnegro, or was it Macedonia? Seriously. So many little countries!! Anyhow, we ended up continuing on for a drink with the trio. Rory and I had shared a bottle of local red at dinner so after I tried their rakir, which is a coverall term for homemade liquor. Went for pear. Was so so. The other three smoked hooka which is a Israeli teenage pastime. We veered into Arab politics and hijab wearing rules, and the Israeli had strong opinions!!
Romania is relatively cheap and probably partly popular due to this. The Bosnian marks is equal to half a euro, it’s pegged. It’s a quick conversion but we’ve not yet been in euro countries so for me, it’s a misnomer!! 12BAM = $9au.
We’re about set for our walking tour, Mach 2! There’s probably 15 peoples, with some older than me! Woot!! Strike that estimation – the numbers grew to at least 40! And one guide. Rory and I already knew some of the info from talking to the Brit Holly in the hostel. Nonetheless, it was 2.5hours of seeing and walking around.
The vast majority of Bosnia identify as Bosniaks or Muslim; then orthodox or Catholic and then others (Jews, Jedis etc). To keep the peace there’s three presidents, for a country of four million people. Seems… Interesting. There’s 200 mosques; about 140 prior to Tito and communism. Whilst he didn’t destroy these cultural buildings, none were built in his time. The Ottoman Empire ensured their town planning included three things: a bakery, a well/fountain and a mosque. There’s a number of synagogues but only 600 Jews in Sarajevo now, a number that’s been stable for decades. The Ottoman Empire welcomed Jews after the Spanish Inquisition, as they were highly educated.
There’s a resurgence of religion and largely from the youth, those in their 30s who spent 44months living in basements and suffering the minimal food and education. Education is free here – a 50euro contribution per annum for university. But there’s 60% youth unemployment. You see a lot of informal stalls – selling forages flowers or fruit. Or clothing items. Those who are unemployed get free healthcare.
Like Turkey, Bosnians have a strong coffee, that must sit to let it settle. There’s clear Turkish influences in the old town and the mosques; but then the austo-Hungarian rule shows in the more ornate buildings and pedestrian malls and the like. And of course there is the purely functional and unadorned buildings of the Yugoslavian years. There’s certain fondness for Tito that he held Yugoslavia together. He thought he would never die. Which is perplexingly naive.
The assassination of Franz Ferdinand is seen by many as a cause for celebration as (following the first world war) it achieved its outcomes – to remove the foreign rulers from Bosnia and Yugoslavia. Supposedly their were six assassins on the day, and the two 19 year olds who actually “acted” on the day, due to their age, only got 20 year sentences unlike the other four who got the death penalty. Not to worry as both died after three years in prison. But there’s a certain pride in what the assassination achieved.
First time here? This list started in Feb 2013, and has been a work in progress since – adding items as often as completing items.
This was updated in Jan 2014, to include more details 🙂 I periodically update this, most recently late March 2016! Feb 2017, where I’d done 26 from 65 listed… though a good 10 or so were recently added.
Thanks to Danny Dover, I have a longer bucket list! I won’t set a deadline though! And the list isn’t in a priority order either.
1. Visit every continent (Completed: Australia, Asia, Europe, Middle East – need South America & Antarctica)
2. See Machu Picchu (to think my brother just did this Jan 2014!)
3. See Aurora Borealis (maybe in an igloo?)
4. Visit tulip fields in The Netherlands
5. Go to the super bowl
6. See Carnival in Rio de Janeiro (could do it with the bro in 2014, but alas, I realise I don’t love crowds and big parties, so maybe another time)
7. Go to Burning Man, Black Rock desert, Nevada USA
8. Go to (the original) Mardi Gras in New Orleans
9. Visit The Maldives
10. Visit Russia – see the St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, the Bronze horseman, the summer and winter palace Aug 2016
11. Visit Serbia/Croatia/Bosnia/Romania – sail in Croatia, see where Romanian gymnasts train, visit Sarajevo, Split, Dubrovnik, Belgrade Aug 2016
12. Visit Mauritius
13. Visit Ethiopia – the birthplace of my cousin/god daughter
14. Visit Oradour-sur-Glane, France – a town annihilated by Germans by torching – May 2017
15. Spend Christmas or Thanksgiving in the US
16. Visit Vietnam/Cambodia Oct 2013
17. Visit Scandinavia (no more exact than that yet!) – likely Norway to see friends, definitely go to Iceland (2016 addition)
18. Fly FIRST class – maybe Emirates where I can shower?
19. Stay in Igloo Village – and see the Northern lights
20. Stay in a tree house
21. Live in NYC
22. Ride the bullet train in JapanJul 2014
23. Visit San Francisco – see the Golden Gate BridgeJan 2015
Activities (that aren’t location specific)
24. Go zorbing (all the blue things are on my 12 in 2 list!) Apr 2015
25. Get hypnotised (ideally to solve a bad habit!) done 2015/16
26. Ride a segwayplanned Aug 2016
27. Drive on a race track
28. Go on a ‘big boat’ style cruise (maybe in retirement)
29. Fly on a trapezeJune 2015
30. Swim with dolphins in NATURE (not in Dubai…:s)
31. Watch a movie at a drive in (if they still exist!) 32.Go jet skiing (on the 12 in 2 list) Dec 2013 and I saw dolphins
33. Get my palm read/fortune told 34. Make a gingerbread houseDec 2013
35. Get body painted for an event
36. Go cave diving <- went canyoning and walked in caves in March 2016
37. Be part of a flash mob (thanks Moonwave for the tip!) 38. Complete a half marathonJuly 2014
39. Learn the name and location of all the countries in Africa
40. Own a cello for purely decorative purposes (though I do know how to play, as does my bf..)
41. Own a luxury European vehicle (BMW, Audi or Mercedes) 42. Write my will 43. Prepay and plan my funeral 44. Learn to surf Jan 2015 wouldn’t say I ‘learnt’ but ‘tried’
45. Build a bonfire and make S’mores
46. Pay for someone else’s groceries (I LOVE this one, thanks www.lifed.com) Jun 2013 47. Go to a silent retreat
48. Go white water rafting – real rapids, not the ones we built in Sydney for the Olympics
49. Join the MHC
50. Get married (before the children)
51. Have children (thinking 3, BF thinks 2, so compromise is 2 unless 2 the same gender, or twins) 52.Climb Sydney Harbour BridgeJune 2014
Newer items (Jan 2014)
52. Visit Portland, Oregon – 2015 go to the donut place, eat at places mentioned here, shop and eat here.
53. Go zipling – 2015 did it in Phuket
54. Go stand up paddle boarding
55. Pay off my mortgage
56. Fully fund my retirement
57. A home with a passionfruit vine, a frangipani tree, a magnolia grandiflora… and a vegie patch.
58. Reiki massage 2015