In September 2013, I traveled through Bosnia and Hercegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia with my friend Trisha. This turned out to be the most thought-provoking, interesting, beautiful and enjoyable trip of the many that I have taken.
Our first stop was Sarajevo, a city that is difficult to separate from its war-torn recent past, but that is so much more. This is what I remember most about the city that I quickly came to love. The morning call to prayer from the neighborhood mosque awakening me each morning. The narrow, cobblestone pedestrian streets of the Old Town. The wide, tram-tracked streets of the modern area. The warm and friendly people, who spoke English but patiently welcomed my broken Bosnian.
The understandable anger that lingers.
The romance of the old architecture juxtaposed with hundreds of gravestones.
The grim dilapidation of the Yugoslav architecture, sometimes bearing scars of shelling and shooting.
The cake. All day, at any time of day, the people of Sarajevo seemed to be eating cake at outdoor cafes. We eagerly joined in on this cultural pastime.
The group of well-dressed older gentleman gathered around to watch a huge game of chess.
The thick, strong Bosnian coffee.
The stunning view from above, made chilling by the knowledge that snipers used the same vantage-point to murder citizens during the siege.
The quiet beauty of a 18th century garden and home-turned-museum.
The emergence of the sun and clear skies that lifted our spirits.
The 1984 Winter Olympics bobsled course in ruins.
The delicious blackberries.
The local couple who came to this vista with lawn chairs, a bottle of Jager and a boom box.
The gut-wrenching exhibits on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the Srebrenica genocide.
The quiet public parks and green spaces.
The two quirkiest quirks: the borderline absurd pedestrian situation and the cat graffiti (!).
As tourists, we barely scratched the surface of the city and would like to return to experience more. After four days in Sarajevo, our next stop was to Mostar via bus. To be continued...
Halvat Hotel - a lovely inn near Old Town with welcoming proprietors and breakfast in the morning.
Sarajevo Funky Tours - goofy name, fascinating and friendly tours.
Svrzo's House - the aforementioned museum.
Restoran Kibe - the best meal of the trip.
Dveri - another delicious meal.