I have a few memories of my 24 hour visit to Sarajevo
with my best friend from high school, 8 years ago. One thing I can recall vividly and that was visually felt throughout the city were the stains from the Yugoslav war. At that time, it literally looked like the war had ended only days prior to our visit. Scars from grenades and shelling were all over buildings and on pavements but the spirit of the people was one of gratitude to happily have their city back. We stayed at a friend of a friend’s apartment overlooking the hill where the city was attacked by Bosnian Serbs during the siege of Sarajevo in 1992.
I also remember a club we were taken to by our local hosts, one that resembled an old jail called Club Boemi owned by Muhamed Ušanovic whose main aim was to provide locals with the best nightlife in the city. As we walked in, I remember my best friend squealing with excitement at a poster that read, ‘Tequila 3KM,’ back then from memory this was about $2-3AUS. It was a night we were not going to remember.
This was also the venue where I met a lovely Bosnian Muslim boy who I ran away from the club with. We took a stroll around Sarajevo at midnight and he retold his experiences from the war and how he and his family survived. Sadly, his father did not. I say ‘Bosnian Muslim‘ because it was one of the first times I had met and really interacted with someone who shared a similar language and culture to me but had the complete opposite religion. I must have asked him at least 5 times how he lived without pršut (prosciutto). His family was below the poverty line from the war like many others, yet fortunate to be alive. By the end of the night, I didn’t want to sleep with him, I wanted to adopt him.
Here Are 8 Things I can’t Wait To Do, See & Experience in Sarajevo Later This Year
One. | A Walking Tour
One of my favourite things to do in a city I’ve got no idea where to begin in is to do a walking tour to get my bearings together. Most major cities around the world have a company or two who provide this kind of service. According to TripAdvisor, there are two companies in Sarajevo with a Certificate of Excellent providing Historical and Heritage Tours of the city but only one of out the two really stood out to me.
Toorico Tours, whose tagline is ‘Your personal touch of Sarajevo,‘ not only offer an extensive city guide, but also a complete 5 hour ‘War Tour‘ where you’re taken to the important spots relating to the Siege of Sarajevo. Curious to know what it’s like to have dinner with a Bosnian family? This is another cool service by Toorico Tours. See you in August Ervin!
Two. | 5 Hour War Tour
I’m fortunate enough to have moved out of Croatia and to Melbourne (later then Sydney) before the Yugoslav war. I have no idea what it would have been like to be a child living through such fear and even when I hear my friends tell me about it when I’m visiting Croatia, I am numbed by their stories. I couldn’t imagine growing up and spending most of my childhood in basements, sheltering from gunfire the way they did.
The city of Sarajevo suffered a major siege that lasted 1,425 days. The Siege of Sarajevo was the longest siege in modern warfare. Perhaps because I wasn’t directly living through the war, I’ve developed a keen interest in it and the politics behind the calamity. It would be as deeply fascinating as it would be as chilling to relive the path of civilians who risked their lives to escape the terror and stay alive, especially down ‘sniper alley’ which I’ll go into further detail when I experience this tour.
Each country, each city, each village- has a different story with the same outcome. There is only one thing all wars have in common and that’s memorials covered in scars.
Three. | Visit Baščaršija (Old Town)
Baščaršija is a Bosnian landmark and place that survived occupation of many foreign and hostile cultures. Located on the north bank of the river Miljacka, it is also considered as one of Sarajevo’s major tourist attractions. Apparently there’s really good Ćevapi here too so I can’t wait to walk around it’s old cobbled streets and do some people watching.
Four. | Walk By The Miljacka River
The main river in the city of Sarajevo is the Miljacka River separating the north and south of the city. I have fond memories of walking down this river when I was 21 at 4am and reciting the lyrics of Lepa Brena’s ‘Cik Cik Pogodi‘ with my new Bosnian friends. I want to relive this again.
Five. | Visit National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina
One of my favourite pastimes is to visit a museum, I particularly enjoy doing this on my own and consider it a form of meditation. Considering that Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, I can only imagine the wealth of history, ethnology and art in this building. I’m so happy to hear it has recently reopened it’s door after being shut down for almost three years due to lack of funding.
Six. | Watch The Sunset at Yellow Fort
I’m the biggest sucker for a sunset and uninterrupted view, I feel as though my entire two month journey will revolve around sunrises and sunsets all over the balkans. Yellow Fort (žuta tabija fortress) is set up on a hill overlooking the city. During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, many head to the fort to break fast where a cannon is set off to mark the end of daylight hours and fasting for the day.
Seven. | Try Bosnian Coffee
My grandfather is a Bosnian Croat which makes me 1/4 Bosnian (3/4 Hungarian and only considered Croatian because it’s my place of birth and first language). Every time I visit my grandparents, I always witness my grandfather’s eyes light up when I agree to have a “bosanska kava” or Bosnian coffee. I am going to have to try bosnian coffee in each town or city I visit and compare who delivers the best.
Eight. | Must Visit a Mosque & Synagogue
Sarajevo is often called the “Jerusalem of Europe” as there are a mix of religions coexisting peacefully. There are four main religions in Sarajevo- Catholic, Orthodox (Christian), Jewish and Muslim. I’m not too fascinated by Churches and I highly doubt any church experience can defeat Sagrada Familia in Barcelona but I’ve never been to a Mosque and would love to experience one in Sarajevo, a Holy city as it stands. As for Synagogues, this only coincides with my bizarre connection to Judaism that I’m hoping I get over before I hit my 30s.
Ps. I have stalked the living lights out of The Bosnian Aussie’s blog and I think you’ll love it as much as I do- The complete local guide to Bosnia. I can’t wait to see you in Mostar Ariana!