Sarajevo – the place that impacted me the most

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.

Cevappi (Skinless sausage) in pita

Cevappi (Skinless sausage) in pita

The buildings on either side of this line are noticably different - from Turkish to European

The buildings on either side of this line are noticably different – from Turkish to European

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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.

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Noticable shrapnel damage to the ‘house’ that was the start of the tunnel under the airport runway

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As the airport was UN held, the tunnel was required to get items from teh two dark blue segments of Sarajevo

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A small segment of tunnel that still exists

Toboggan course

Toboggan course – graffiti was a common element along the length of it

Swwon worthy forest around the toboggan course.

Swwon worthy forest around the toboggan course.

The hotel during the war

The hotel during the war

Famous hotel of the siege, where journalists stayed. I did debate whether we should stay there, but it had a strip club in there :s

Famous hotel of the siege, where journalists stayed. I did debate whether we should stay there, but it had a strip club in there :s

The memorial to the children lost during the seige

The memorial to the children lost during the seige

There was a sad plaque to this statue

There was a sad plaque to this statue. The other white marble – those are grave markers.  They were somewhat common in public parks, as well as dedicated cemetries.

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).

This entry was posted in Bosnia, Travel

5 Responses

  • I hope all is well with you back home, Sarah! I have never been on a trip that had guided tours, but if travelled to a completely new place, I would like to do that. Like you, I am interested in history and it would be great to hear it from local people in addition to pre-reading. PS – Did you read Zlata’s Diary when you were in school?

    Reply
  • It’s fascinating to read about, Sarah. I worked for a building company during Uni (early 90s for me) and there were many Serbian/Croatian trades. We had an informal policy at the time of keeping the guys working on separate building sites. That’s where I first heard of the conflict. The fallout was immense even here in Australia with migrating populations.

    That’s an interesting point about the merits of doing a tour or guide. I can see how you were ready to come home after three weeks. I’m still astounded at how much ground you covered. Such unique places you visited. It has really made me want to travel more and out of the standard places.

    How many countries have you visited all up?

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    • This trip was four countries (Russia, Romania, Turkey and Bosnia), and Rory and I spent time counting how many we’ve been to in total, and it’s in the mid 30s for me. We found different apps count places differently (like Hong Kong), and we’re not clear on what the rules we have as a family as what consitutes a ‘visit’ – a overnight stay? A few hours in a border town? A conversation we never tire of.

      Very interesting experience with building site!

      Reply
  • That statue in the final photograph slays me. It’s very expressive and poignant.

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