Saturday, May 25, 2019
Belgrade – Sarajevo
We left Belgrade at 8:15 am in a private bus. It will be a seven hour drive to Sarajevo. We will have 2 stops: one before the border with Bosnia Herzegovina and one after.
The landscape we were driving through is quite flat in Serbia and not long after we entered Bosnia, we were driving through the mountain range that I forgot the name of; some beautiful vistas.
We arrived in Sarajevo at 4pm. Because our pension is a Muslim household, we were asked to remove our shoes in the “lobby” and we received nice plastic slippers. Our room is large and very nice. It is a small bathroom, but functional. No complaints whatsoever!
After settling in and having about 20 minutes, we met our local guide Muhamed who took us on an orientation walk through Sarajevo. We walked beside the river Miljacka and passed the Eiffel Bridge; then crossed over on the Funny Bridge. Muhamed told us a lot about the beginnings of the city in 1557. It was an important trade route. We passed the university and the “Buy Book” Store. He recommended the book “The Cellist of Sarajevo”. The book is about a violinist who played his violin for 26 days in a row at exactly the same spot where 26 people were killed a day before the war started. There are also painted “blood spatters” on the ground further in the city, where the people were killed.
During the war, 11.541 people were killed, 1. 161 were children and over 50.000 were wounded. In 2005 Sarajevo held a remembrance day for all those killed by lining up red chairs along the main street: exactly the number of those killed and the same with small chairs for the number of children killed. On the main street is a building with the painting: Remember Srebrenica. This is in memory of the massacre of over 8,000 Muslim men and older boys in July 1995.
We walked into an area where there was a very old Jewish Synagogue. The Jews were full members of society; not marginalized until 1942 when the Germans came; made them wear the Star of David and carried them off to extermination camps. People who helped and protected them met with the same sentence. A very small Jewish community was left after the war. The synagogue is now a museum.
The old city has a nice atmosphere: lots of small shops and restaurants, interspersed with a church and mosques. Then we walked back to the river and stopped at the spot where in 1914 Prince Franz Ferdinand and his wife Princess Sophie were assassinated which was the cause of the First World War.
By then it was time for dinner. We ended up in a very old restaurant in the old city. The kitchen was very small and four people were working in there cooking and cleaning the dishes. The food was excellent. Eke had stuffed eggplant and Brian had a goulash.
We really have to get used to the fact that smoking is allowed everywhere – so also in restaurants. It is not easy to sit in smoke for a few hours. Bosnians say that what they suffered during the war, living in basements with oil lamps and hardly any ventilation was a lot worse and it didn’t kill them!
That was a long day and the bed was very inviting!