I love this city. We wandered all over the Old Town, and figured out how to ride the trams (hint – don’t bother buying a ticket, just get on; that’s what everyone else does here). We drank strong lovely foamy coffee in tiny cups, and ate gelato and meat pies and today had the best pizza ever… we are just across the Adriatic from Italy, after all….
I bought a book called Goodbye Sarajevo – written by two sisters who were 12 and 18 when the war started. After walking the city for a few days, it was a perfect read, because all of a sudden the streetscapes she described to me were familiar, and the true horror and surreality of a war here a mere 15 years ago hit me in full.
Today we went to the History Museum which had an excellent permanent exhibition about the Sarajevo Seige. I’m finding all of this fascinating and chilling and just somehow incomprehensible. The people we see on the street – teenagers – were alive during that war! I can barely understand, but we are surrounded by the reminders of it: bullet holes in buildings, facades chipped and weary, and more disabled people than I’ve seen in a while – wheelchairs are fairly common to see (note to self – if I want to take daughter on a trip, a recovering war zone is a good bet for access ramps).
When we were coming in on the plane a few days ago, our seatmate was a young German woman working on the readying of Bosnia-Herzogovina to enter the EU. She flies in once a month, so had lots of little tips (don’t pay more than 15 KM (Konvertible Marks) for a ride from the airport…. one thing that she told us was that we’d see a lot of houses with beautiful landscaping but horrible facades – all still wrecked and pock-marked. This is because if your house is still in need of cosmetic fix, you don’t have to pay taxes. If you fix the outside, then you have to pay…
It has rained all day. We are cheery about it, but wandering the streets in the rain eventually loses its appeal. We came “home” for a siesta and are getting ready to go to a swanky restaurant that Bono goes to every time he’s in town, apparently…. Too bad, Brad and Angelina were here last month. We’ve been eating Bosnian fast food, so this is out fancy pants outing.
Tomorrow, we’re off to Dubrovnik. We could have paid a taxi to take us, probably, but we chose to instead take a bus. It’s not that far, but will apparently take 7 hours. We leave early in the morning and get there at around 2 pm, so we’ll still have lots of time to get into out apartment that we’ve rented for a couple of days, and then do some exploring. Odds are we’ll want to stretch our legs after 7 hours on a bus!
We are weirdly anticipatory about this. Considering it takes almost as long to take the bus from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik as it did to fly from Toronto to Sarajevo, it had better be amusing…..
We’re having a terrific time. It’s only Tuesday and I feel at least a week-rested. We’re working at not having set schedules, and learning to just wander, and to sit and sip coffee/beer/wine when the mood strikes us. More photos on Facebook, here.