East meets West in Sarajevo
Mostar was gorgeous, but it was time to move on to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. So we said goodbye to our wonderful host Lena, packed our bags and walked over to the bus station. The bus was actually there on time! So we jumped on and sat to the left. I had hoped to take the train as we had read that it was one of the most breath-taking journeys in the world, but it was due to re-open in Spring 2017 and no one in Mostar seemed to think it was running.
So bus it was! In truth the bus follows the train track just on the opposite side, so we still got our incredible scenery. Following a river for miles and miles with mountains all around us.
It was perfection, it’s supposed to take around 3 hours and we were well on schedule when we stopped 40 minutes or so from Sarajevo to drop some passengers off. Next thing we know the bus driver is telling us the bus has broken down and we have to wait for a replacement!
We sat having a drink and waiting when a local bus appeared, loads of people jumped on so we went to follow before our bus driver warned us it was going to the very outskirts of Sarajevo and we’d be better to wait. Luckily the next bus turned up 10 minutes later and we were back on our way! We were stopped for about an hour so were a bit behind schedule now. It’s all part of the adventure though!
We soon arrived at Sarajevo bus station and walked over to the train station 2 mins away, checked the map and walked straight down to the river noticing the huge building to our left, the most modern looking one we had seen on our trip. I had checked where the hotel was located, on the other side of the old part of the city to us. We followed the river along counting a the bridges and seeing some nice architecture. The river was definitely browner than the last few we had seen!
We could’ve taken a tram easily but the weather was nice so we walked for around 30/40 minutes to the hotel Toplik, it wss a bit hidden away with no obvious signs but we entered and were greeted by a young girl who showed us up a flight of stairs to a lovely room, it was around £22 a night and seemed like a bargain and quite upmarket after the last few simple rooms.
As usual we didn’t linger and went out to explore. We were now on the other side of the river so we crossed back over and entered Bascarsija, the old Turkish quarter. The stark contrast of Sarajevo is quite incredible, with mosques, shisha and kebabs next to huge churches, patisseries and Viennese coffee shops. It really is East meets West, one street exemplified this by splitting itself in half, with one half being tall grand European buildings and the other one story Turkish bazaar like buildings.
It’s a cool city with a nice vibe, lots of people sat around chatting, eating cake and drinking coffee. After grabbing some sandwiches and demolishing them we had to join in so we found a little coffee and cake place and sat down where I had this bad boy.
It was soooo good and Sarah’s cake was really nice too. We sat and people watched for a while then walked down towards the ‘European’ side.
The views between the buildings were ace, with what looked like scenes from the Swiss alps in the background. Really beautiful but you could also see how the Yugoslav forces surrounded the City in the 90s and bombarded it from up high.
There were shell marks and bullet holes all over many of the buildings, a reminder that it really wasn’t so long ago that people were living in fear and thousands were killed. I think if anything it made us appreciate the beauty even more. We saw the sacred heart cathedral, built towards the end of the 1800s it’s the largest cathedral in Bosnia.
There was the multicultural man, a statue placed around the world in places with great multiculturalism, even nicer that there were some market stalls nearby and men playing giant chess. We continued walking past a giant watch on a building and past an eternal flame.
The flame is a memorial to the victims of the 2nd world war. Across from here we saw a park and decided to walk up through it, there were a few gravestones and a small graveyard in the centre, along with hundreds of dandelions which looked very pretty in the sunlight.
The weather was starting to turn so we did a loop, spotting the church from further down a street and, as the clouds rolled in we decided to stop for a beer and plan the next days events. We stopped in a bar next to an old red London bus with a phone box as the door! It was pretty funny seeing famous British landmarks in Bosnia. Even if it was all for an Irish pub.
Finishing our beer and research we headed back to the hotel to change as it was colder and starting to rain. We wandered through an old market hall and past some old ruins on the way.
These turned out to be from the 1500s when the Ottomans ruled the land. We changed in the hotel and chilled out for a bit after all the walking we’d done. Trying to find somewhere to eat, in the end we gave up and just walked down into the old quarter, seeing the museum beautifully lit up in the darkening sky.
We found a street with a few restaurants on and went for the one with the smokiest chimney. We ordered a few dishes to share, more Cevapi, Klepe-a ravioli like dish covered in garlic butter and a big local salad. It was amazing, especially the klepe.
The sour cream on top was literally the best idea ever. Suitably full we did try to order traditional Bosnian dessert but they had run out! So we went for a few beers instead, including to a pirate ship themed pub! It wasn’t so busy around the old quarter but there are definitely the pubs to have a goid night out.