Left Belgrade after visiting Belgrade Fortress, or “Barokna kapija” & after having lunch with coffee at local Par.co bistro, we headed westward, destination Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The road took us through rural Serbia, off-highway since there is none. Crossing the border at “Mali Zvornik”, we were greeted and wished a pleasant holiday by border patrol officer. Continuing in Bosnia & Herzegovina, the road took us through an amazing highland plateau, winding roads going up & down through beautiful forests, scenery exchanging with fantastic views of grasslands with scattered cows & sheep…
Sarajevo. 9pm. Seven hour drive. Late arrival, straight to bed.
The next 1.5 days in Sarajevo took us through an amazing experience of history, mixture of cultures, food tasting and even through remnants of city’s Olympic history. But more on that, later.
The longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare, The Siege of Sarajevo took place during the Bosnian war between 92′ and 95′ and left its marks visible until today, giving the city partly sad and melancholic feel.
Recent sad history aside, Sarajevo today is an amazing mix of cultures. Catholic church, Muslim mosque, statue of John Paul II, standing shoulder to shoulder. Locals, tourists, Muslim women wearing hijab, waiters waiting on people across the street from their shop, children chasing pigeons on Baščaršija square – nicknamed Pigeon sq., the sound of church bells, the voice of muezzin high above in minaret calling for prayer, the smell of roasted cevapi meat rising from chimneys and falling back to the streets of old town, freshly brewed coffee, cold boza drink being sat in front of a guest, all mixing, all creating the unique place Sarajevo is.
Having traveled quite extensively, never have I come across a mix of cultures, tastes, senses, history and architecture such as here in Sarajevo.
Local drink – Boza.
We’ve visited this small, but very cozy coffee house called “Ministry of Ćejf”, loosely translated as “Ministry of Relaxed State / Chill out”. Having ordered coffee & “boza”, we got approached by a stranger in a green hat. Asked us in Australian accent: “You’ve ordered boza? How do you like it?”
Boza is a drink special to Sarajevo and is made of fermented corn, non-alcoholic, served called, very tasty & refreshing.
“We love it” the answer was. Stranger’s name was Reshad and he was indeed an Australian, as well as the owner of the coffee house. We ended up having a great talk about how Australian ends up living in Sarajevo, how boza is similar to fermented grapes, what “Ćejf” means, about Sarajevo and about many other things my mind chose not to remember. Ask Alexandra, she’ll remember.
Reshad also suggested we go to “Petica” and have Cevapi, local specialty made of beef, served with onion & pita bread. Cevapi, also translated as “little kebab” is really delicious and if you ever visit Sarajevo, have it! So we went, we ate and again, we met Reshad.
Last day in Sarajevo. Morning routine, packing, coffee, brunch. Into the car and up the hill (leaving Sarajevo any direction is up the hill). Up the hill we went, to see the remnants of Sarejvo’s past Olympic fame, the Luge & Bobsleigh Track, built for 1984 Winter Olympic Games.
Place is now a ruin, track covered in graffiti, overgrown by forest, almost falling apart. It is possible to walk within the track itself, experiencing even better what it must have been like flying down the track 130km/h in a bobsleigh. Curves are very steep and it must take loads of courage to do this. Hats off to athletes competing in this sport.
Anyone even remotely interested in sports, Olympianism & visiting Sarajevo, should not miss out on this experience.
Overall, Sarajevo is… its hard to find other words than unique…
Just visit & you’ll see. I think we will again…
See you in Mostar!