Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sarajevo - 2015


  • Finding English speaking people in the non-touristy areas is difficult, so have a clear directions and plan to reach your place if you happen to arrive in the East Bus station.
  • When you walk out of the bus stand, turn towards right and walk about 10-15 minutes find ATM and shops to eat.  The bus stand to the old town is on the way.
  • Don’t have food near the pigeon square and it is expensive, especially for vegetarians (compared to Bosnian standards) and walk little bit further into the old town, you will have a number of choices.
  • Stay in Airbnb or home stay to interact with the locals.  The people are very friendly and have a conversation with the
    Memorial for Children killed during war
    local, you will get to know more of their history and their sufferings during the war.  If the photo exhibition, "Milk and Honey", is still going in the old town, please go for it.  
  • Central bus station and the train station are located very close.  
  • The National Theatre is in the Old Town, they have programs almost for everyday
  • Sarajevo has a huge Turkish influence so you get very good baklavas :-)

Bus Journey from Belgrade to Sarajevo

The bus left Belgrade on time and stopped every two hours for cigarette break.  Both in the Serbian and Bosnian immigration points, the immigration officials collected the passports from the bus after verifying the picture, and returned the passports shortly after.  The bus travel is slow and since it was night time it worked out perfectly.  It crosses the Serbian/Bosnian border after 3 hours, so you could get 3 hours of undisturbed sleep and after that you’ll be awake for at least 30 minutes during the passport verification. The bus stops in some small towns as well as whenever people are waiting on the road for the bus, and since Sarajevo was the last stop, I was not concerned where to get off.   Bosnia is not yet upgraded itself to be a tourist friendly place compared to Croatia where you find English signs everywhere.  Before reaching the Sarajevo East bus stand, you will get to see the eagle view of Sarajevo (if you are sitting on the right side of the bus).

Remote Bus Stand

It felt like that the bus had dropped me in a remote bus stand.  Sarajevo East bus stand was pretty small and had to talk to at least six people before finding someone who could speak English and who could direct me to where the ATM machines are. Had to walk about 15 minutes before finding the ATM machine.  Walk past the local bus stand and take a left turn at the signal, you will find the bakery shop as well as ATM machine.  There’s a direct bus from the local bus stand to the old town and once in the old town, finding my apartment was pretty easy.  If you are staying near the downtown or old town,  get the clear directions to reach the your place using one of the landmarks.  If you are driving, get the information on where to park near the old town or downtown area, it is very difficult to find parking and you won’t be sure whether it is closer to your place.

The Host

Mickie, the host, is a very friendly person and prepared Bosnian coffee when I arrived.  During the whole stay, I felt like that I was staying with a friend and we talked very much about the war.  I really don’t think that I would have got the experience if I stayed in a hotel.  

He was telling how friends and brothers who used to drink/barbeque/hang around together, turned against and started taking sides.  He shared his experiences during the war when his house got with grenades a couple of times and his narrow escapes.  

There was another lady staying with Micke who was working on developments projects in Bosnia mentioning about how these countries except Slovania struggling to figure out changing the system from Yugolslavian model to the current Republic model and level of corruption that’s preventing the growth.

Sarajevo is a pretty small place to walk around but there are a number of places around Sarajevo, you could spend time on.  It is surrounded by beautiful hills and the drive to Mostar is very picturesque.  The whole landscape is completely different from the ones in Serbia (at least around Belgrade area). 

All of the important places were marked well with a lot of details so I decided not to take the walking tour of Sarajevo.  Visited the “Milk and Honey” photo exhibit on the Bosnian war photographs and it’s very well worth it, it gave a geographical perspective on where the places are and how the siege was happening.  This is in addition to reliving through the war times.  
Got the very detailed information on the tunnels and how the Sarajevons were supporting themselves during the siege using the tunnels to bring in the essentials.  The tunnels are outside the city and the cost of that tour was about $30 and decided to skip it.  The old town has mosques, churches and synagogs located very closely each other, the city has huge Turkish influence.

My Thoughts

A number of people as well as in the movie shown at the exhibition (Milk and Honey) indicate that the Bosnian massacre is the worst after world war and they could not believe that it’s happening in the middle of Europe.  I was thinking about other two massacres happened elsewhere in the world and why there’s not so much awareness on that.  In one case, Rwanda, the world powers where not doing enough to stop it when 100K people got killed (I salute President Clinton for recognizing the mistake) and in the other case, Cambodia, the world powers were supporting the regime that massacred 25% of the country’s population (about X million people).


  • Overall the roads are narrow and windy but very well paved.  People follow the road signs/laws so if you rent a car, you will be able to drive (except the signs are not in English in most of the places).  
  • It is crazy going from Belgrade to Dubrovnik, we had cross into Croatia from Bosnia, then Croatia to Bosnia and then Bosnia to Croatia in the five hour bus ride.
  • I didn't explore anywhere outside of Sarajevo but there's natural beauty just outside Sarajevo.  So it is more than Sarajevo and Mostar, but you could go for other outdoor activities.

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