Sarajevo – Never Judge a Book by its Cover

Sarajevo – Never Judge a Book by its Cover

Posted by on Feb 12, 2016 in Bosnia, Europe

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We left the sunshine in Mostar and drove into the rain in Sarajevo. On the way we stoped in a little town called Blagaj and made our way out to the Dervish House which is based at the bottom of the cave and is the origin of the Buna River.

Blagaj is a village-town (kasaba) in the south-eastern region of the Mostar basin, in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It stands at the edge of Bišće plain and is one of the most valuable mixed urban and rural structures in Bosnia and Herzegovina, distinguished from other similar structures in its urban layout. Wikipedia

The Tekija (Tekke) was built in the 16th century and is a holy place for Muslims. I had to wear a head scarf while we were there. The whole area is so beautiful, even in the rain. There is a very touristy looking restaurant which we chose not to eat in (mainly because it was 10am and we weren’t hungry) but you can definitely get a meal out there if you want to. Tom had a great time wandering up and down the river and the boys loved playing in the rain!

The rest of the drive was very scenic and enjoyable. The roads are pretty good and fairly easy to navigate. We saw lots of these old style centre pole haystacks along with lots of chickens, cows and goats.

Sarajevo, Bosnia

As we rolled into Sarajevo the clouds and rain came. I am not actually sure the weather did the city a disservice as it would have looked miserable even in the sunshine. Fortunately the appearance of the outskirts was not linked to the vibration of the inner city and Sarajevo turned out to be quite interesting, dynamic and fun.

The evidence of war in Bosnia is everywhere. Buildings are covered with bullet holes, windows have been broken and never replaced, and many places have been bombed and left to rot. It was quite confronting as it was the first place I had been in my life where there was evidence of war that had occurred while I was alive. The Bosnian war was only 20 years ago and it is still very fresh in most peoples minds and lives.

Things to do in Sarajevo

Despite this, the inner city is fabulous – very interesting and easy to navigate! The Stari Grad (Old town) is wonderful to walk around and just spend time looking all the different historical sites, architecture and shops. Bascarsija is Sarajevo’s oldest bazaar and was built in the 15th century. It is filled with Rugs and carpets, leather goods (shoes and bags) wooden wares, jewellery, scarves, clothing and much more. It is well worth a visit. We stayed in a great little apartment which was walking distance from the centre of town.

One of the things I love most about this part of the world is the people. They are very passionate about their business and their city. It is a passion that I don’t find so much in other places. I met a man who was a cobbler and he had been handed down his business by his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was so excited to talk to me and tell me that his cousin lived in Perth in Western Australia! He talked about why his shoes were the best in Bosnia and that he and his friend had been working together for 40 years. The two worked very happily in their tiny shop each day. Their beautiful cat sat in the window on top of a lovely little carpet and watched the day go by. It was such a simple scene but it held so much depth and sentiment. He was very proud to show me his family’s name on the bottom of the shoe he was working on. I only wish I had liked them so I could have bought a pair!

Two of my favourite things in the world are Pouffes and Rugs! Whenever I can I buy both while we are travelling. Bosnia didn’t disappoint. I knew I wanted a Rug but wasn’t sure if I wanted to add it to our very slight 40kg we had been carrying around Europe. As soon as I saw it I knew it was the one for me, however I held back and decided to wait until we got to Turkey to buy one. Luckily the next day was my birthday and my fantastic husband secretly went back to buy it for me as a present! It wasn’t easy to travel with for another few months but it was totally worth it!

The food in Sarejevo was just as good as Mostar. We tried lots of different dishes and also managed to find a nice bottle of red wine. We had no idea what any of the words on the bottle meant, so it really brought new meaning to the words ‘blind tasting’ however, we liked this one and it came in about $6AUD a bottle. We tried a few that weren’t so successful, so we bought a few more of this one, to drink along the way.

For those of you who know me in person you may be well aware at my despair over feeding our eldest (Tom). He is a picky eater on a good day and each country presents both good and bad food options. One thing he is not to good with is ‘mixing’ foods, as in he likes each flavour to be separated. It drives me insane and definitely impacts where we can eat, so when he agreed to branch out and try and a kebab I was over the moon! It was a raging success, partially due to the nicest Kebab man in the world who patiently pointed to each ingredient and waited for him to slowly reply whether he wanted to include it! The food was also delicious which always helps. We are gradually gathering a nice little collection of meals that he can enjoy which is making travelling easier and more and more pleasurable.

Scott and I thought we would take the kids on a local tram/bus just for a bit of excitement and to see what it was like. They loved it! It was pretty old school and very much ‘Eastern Europe’ but it was cheap and cheerful and kept us out of the rain. We are trying to expose them to as many different ways of travel as possible. Most of the time we are driving so we don’t interact with locals as much as we could (however it is the easiest option for us with the kids) so it is always good to try new experiences when we are in the cities.

Very conveniently we got out at a giant shopping mall just as the rain came down. It was very nice inside and had marble floors and carpet. The shops were beautiful and there was a bowling alley and kids play area on the top floor. As it was pouring outside we tried to find a movie cinema and we found one one next door to the mall, however all the kids movies were dubbed in Bosnian which was a bit of a shame.

We stayed in Sarajevo for a few days and then headed out to the Tunnels to have a look, before driving onto Monetenegro. The drive from Sarajevo to Kotor through Montenegro has to go down as being the prettiest drive I have ever done. It is definitely one to pop on your list. Dramatic ravines, cliff edges, giant lakes, rivers, farm land and then to end up in the Bay of Kotor, well it really was a spectacular way to end our time in Bosnia and Herzegovina!

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