An Afternoon Wandering Around Sarajevo

It was a very late night and I didn’t get to sleep until around midnight. I woke up around 5:45AM to the sound of a muezzin leading the adhan (ezan in BiH), the call to prayer of the Muslims in the city. It was so beautiful!

I listened for a bit and it lulled me back to sleep. I managed to sleep until about nine when the child upstairs woke me up. I checked my emails and there was one from a client who has been very quiet the last few weeks asking if I’d mind “cleaning up” some files that came in late in the day so that they’d have them by their morning. There are advantages to my working during their night!

First, though, I had to figure out breakfast. I had buns from Belgrade and some of my Greek peanut butter from Bulgaria on me, so that was food sorted. Coffee was trickier since there wasn’t a single pot in the apartment!

This is what I ended up using to heat water!

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Here’s a quick tour of the interior of the apartment. I don’t feel comfortable doing the exterior since I didn’t realise last night that this is a private residence (owners or long-term tenants are upstairs). It just feels too invasive.

I love the floor in the entrance and the pink wall, which is also in the living room. Almost the same colour as my dressing room at home!

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From the entrance, you can access the kitchen and then the bathroom on the right, or turn left to go towards the other rooms.

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Here’s the little kitchen. The table there makes it difficult to use the stove and it appears there are two fridges. But it’s functional and clean. There was an American lady living here for three months, so she left behind a lot of food, like pasta, still in the packages, as well as seasonings. So if I want to cook, I’m in better shape than I was in Belgrade, where I had to buy salt. Behind the door is a bank of drawers with utensils in them. Not the best layout, but it would be my dream to have a house with a kitchen like this in its own room with a door that shuts!

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When I saw my driver this morning (I think that he is a tenant of my host) who lives upstairs, I asked about a pot to make hot water. There was a lot of miming involved because he did not understand me. Finally, he said that he got it and that he would put something in the kitchen. He understood! That’s a Turkish coffee pot at the top (what I used to make hot water in Belgrade), and a decent size pot if I want to make pasta. I don’t mind the discolouration, that’s old enamelware for you.

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The pink wall in the hallway.

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The bathroom is pretty good and has tons of storage, but the location of the shower head is really unfortunate. I was unable to avoid spraying the floor last night, so it was a very quick in and out shower!

 

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I am going to ask if I can use this washing machine before I leave!

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Looking down the hallway to the rooms. My bedroom is on the left, the dining/living/spare bedroom/office is at the end.

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The bedroom has too much furniture, but that gives me some surfaces to spread out. 🙂 The bed is terrible, two hard single beds pushed together. It was cold last night, so I added the blue and white duvet, which I found in the armoire in the hallway, and was then comfy.

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And here’s the last room. A table and hard back chair are actually not that great for long typing marathons, but fine for a couple of hours at a time. The futon is terrible. I think comfortable furniture is a Canadian/American concept…

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The far wall of this room is hideous, but I love the bedding on the bunk beds! The two rooms have numbers and keys, so I think that they are sometimes rented separately with shared kitchen and bathroom space.

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Needless to say, this place feel huge to me! I’m not crazy about having the family upstairs since the child cries a lot, but it’s fine for five days. The location isn’t as good as I would have hoped since I’m at the top of a super steep hill and there doesn’t appear to be any restaurants or shops immediately around me. Thankfully, I’m in great shape from all that Bulgarian hiking, so I shouldn’t have a problem going up and down a few times a day. I’ll be going back out later to find dinner.

So I put in about two hours of work this morning and have another two or so to do by the end of tomorrow my time. I was finally about to shut down and think about tourism around one. I did some research about tours and booked a walking tour for tomorrow morning and sent in a couple of requests for half-day driving tours. My first choice was booked solid for the week and I’m waiting for my second choice to get back to me.

Then, I set off to orientate myself and find some lunch. This is the first place I’ve stayed booked through Airbnb that had a map, which was really appreciated!

Here are some Bosnian Marks. The 5KM coin looks like the Canadian toonie! Some of you might recognise the change purse I bought in Mérida (I only showed it off on Facebook). Love it!

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Looking down my street towards Old Town.

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Sarajevo orientation tip: don’t bother using the minarets. They all start to look alike after a while!

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One of many, many cemeteries in Sarajevo.

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When I came home this afternoon, he was awake and very happy to have a bit of a scritch around the ears!

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This is a main street in Sarajevo. Very busy and there are no sidewalks. Thankfully, the traffic is in just one direction. So I can always get home, just not always the most efficient route. Even with the map, it’s really difficult to orientate yourself since there isn’t a ton of signage and all the streets go off in odd directions.

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Coming into the heart of Old Town, Baščaršija Square, Sarajevo’s old bazaar built in the 15th century.

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Like in Belgrade, the pedestrian walk lights are not synchronized to get across a whole boulevard. You have to wait for one green light, cross to a median, then wait for another green light.

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This car decided to park right on the tram line and the tram was only just able to stop in time!

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This is a famous fountain in Sarajevo, Sebilj. There are replicas in Belgrade and St. Louis, MO. It was built in 1753 in a pseudo-Ottoman style. The pigeons took off just after I took this picture and it was like a scene in The Birds. I’m lucky that none of them crapped on me!

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Walking around this square, it is easy to get disorientated as there are so many little alleyways. I wandered randomly, eventually taking out 100KM from an ATM and being rather annoyed that it came as a single 100KM note!

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This little dog is paralysed and is still able to move easily thanks to this contraption. Can you imagine how much his parents love him?

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I found this lovely fruit and vegetable market that reminded me of Mexico.

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Here’s a fish shop. In this part of Sarajevo, the signage is all in Latin letters. Where I landed yesterday, near the airport, there is a lot of Cyrillic. My research tells me that using Latin letters is huge part of Bosnia’s identity as being European, as opposed to being aligned with the East (ie. cutting ties with a Communist past).

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Outside this mosque, I found a restaurant called Two for Tea that had all my comfort foods on the menu, hummus, tabouleh, and falafel!

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I ordered the Moroccan tea. So lovely! I loved the spicy (as in flavourful, not hot) tea with the sweet honey. The little cookie was really good too!

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And lunch! The hummus and tabouleh were spot on and incredibly wonderful. A party for the tastebuds! I was disappointed that like Bulgarian falafel, these were a little flat considering how good the rest of my plate was! I would have preferred pita, of course, but that bread was delicious and I may have had a few bites drizzled with the honey from my tea as a dessert. No, I did not eat that entire basket of bread!

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Lunch was 10.50KM, plus a 2KM tip. So reasonable! I asked the server if he could break my 100 note (I had 15KM left from yesterday, but didn’t want to give up my change if I had to!). He visibly blanched and said, “Euro?” I said, “No, marks!” and he laughed with relief and said it was absolutely not a problem.

I wandered some more and was impressed that Sarajevo does not shy away from its recent bloody history. I didn’t go in. I just wasn’t in the right head space for that yet.

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Standing on the spot on the Latin Bridge where Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, precipitating the First World War. Talk about feeling the weight of history!

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Couples leave locks on the bridge.

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Another bridge.

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I headed up this pedestrian street towards a cemetery.

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And emerged into a neighbourhood of recently built houses.

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Terminating in a not so recently built house.

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The tour of the cemetery was shattering. So many graves of so many lives that started in the early ’70s and ended in the early to mid-’90s. Such a waste. This was a war that happened in our lifetimes, not in some far off past so that we can pretend we are so much more civilised than our ancestors were.

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There was music coming from a nearby mosque that really added to the ambiance. I’m not ashamed to say that I wept.

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The first line says “from nest to the stars” and the second “wife and daughter.” Fuad is a man’s name (Arabic for heart), so I believe that second line is a signature rather a description of the person buried.

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There was a sort of fortification at the top of the cemetery, with a lot of people heading up there, so I decided to check it out and found an astounding nearly 360 view of Sarajevo.

 

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This is yet another cemetery.

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These are the steps I took to come up to the viewpoint.

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I was ready to head home after this and thought I could use my map to plot a route that would avoid my having to backtrack and go back downhill. That plan failed and, most of the way home, I realised I had to go back down to a shop anyway to get bread and coffee!

I love how the newer houses are built in the old style.

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Old Vratnik Fort entrance.

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These neglected tombstones are across from the cemetery I visited.

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I finished my afternoon by finding a tiny shop where I was able to get the coffee and bread I need. Hopefully the coffee is good! I was disappointed I wasn’t able to find Tchibo in Belgrade.

My first impressions of Sarajevo are that it is really lovely and that the people are kind and welcoming (with many speaking good English!), but that its tragic recent history is still very present. I will have lots more after my walking tour tomorrow! Now, I’m off to find some dinner.

5 thoughts on “An Afternoon Wandering Around Sarajevo

  1. Your last paragraph stole the comment I was drafting in my mind as I read: “really lovely and that the people are kind and welcoming but that its tragic recent history is still very present.”

  2. Pingback: Revisiting the Rijksmuseum |

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