|It has been a busy and hot couple of days in Sarajevo. It is quite cheap here and most admit the small bottles of red wine for about $2 aren't bad. In addition the beer is also cheap and cold. Now food is another story. It is okay but it is definitely heavy - meat and bread but cheap. Actually my best meal was today at the local brewery publ - great soup and a salad and beer all for $9.Good food and great interior.
Yestery I went on a free walking tour for three and a half hours with a young university student. He does this twice a day for tourists and if you like it you pay him. It was a great tour and he was a wealth of knowledge about the history of the country from the Ottoman era to current day including the seige of Sarajevo from 1992 to 1995. He was just seven years old at the time and talked about what it was like to virtually live in a basement for over 3 years. He showed us a number of different memorials to the 11,000 people (including 1600 children) that were killed during that time. I think I now understand what it was about (Serbs not agreeing with an overwhelming vote to separate from Yugoslavia) but can't imagine why it resulted in what it did. The memorial to children which includes the names of all of them that died and a fountain partially built from melted down mortars with children's footprints is a sobering site. Nano also showed us where there are holes in the payment made from missles. Wherever more than 3 people were killed they have filled in the holes and painted them red. Once you know what those spots are it is sad to see all the spots along the different streets. It was 20 years ago April 6 that the seige began and so this April was a special event. To celebrate it they set up 11,000 red chairs on the main street, one for every person killed. Nano, our guide had a hard time talking about that day.
Today I visited the Museum that is about the seige. WOW what a sobering experience that was. It's hard to imagine what it was like to live like that for over three years - fearing everytime you left your house. The hills where the snipers were seem so far away but apparently they weren't as they were very successful killing people. The pictures show the absolute destruction that was here and yet the people attempted to live normally with little food, no phones, no electricity, etc. There were posters even showing cultural activities that continued during this time
There are a number of beautiful Ottoman buildings and many have been restored after the war damage. Saying that it is pretty easy to find other buildings that are still in ruin or have damaged walls and fountations. This city of 400,00 is a definite contrast from Istanbul. Despite the contrast it is quite vibrant with both it's old city area and a very modern part of the city full of beautiful shops, new buildings and cafes. Today I visited an Ottoman house museum - it was quite interesting.
Apparently the people of Bosnia are BIG coffee drinkers and rank right up there in the top 20. The cafes are full all day long!! I find this really interesting since our guide told us there is 43% unemployment in the city. Bosnain coffee, for the record, is better than Turkish coffee.
The river runs through the city and has a number of bridges to get you from one side to the other. There isn't much water in the river and unfortunately there is a lot of trash. The Latin Bridge is the most famous as it was on the street just off of this bridge that Franz Ferdinand, hero to the throne of Hungary was assassinate and was the trigger for World War I.
After the tour and a lot more walking, it really was time for a cold one despite the fact that most people seemed to be drinking coffee, I managed to find two women at a small cafe enjoying a beer and joined them. People are generally very friendly despite the total lack of English. Somehow communication seems to work.
After my refreshment break I had a Sarajevo hair cut. No panic, it turned out quite good and the two lovely sisters who own the salon were great. They decided my hair cut made me look younger and so maybe I'd find love in Sarajevo!!
I am now enjoying a bit of the cheap wine while totally relaxing. I've put on quite a few steps already today and do plan to go out for diner to the Spite House. This place has an interesting story. The fellow who owned the house on the property where they wanted to build the new city building would only sell if they moved his house one brick at a time - thus the Spite House.
I went looking for my Sarajevo souvenier, a small coffee server. After checking several locations I walked into one place where the 'artist' had made the piece and was able to show me how he was one of two recognized by UNESCO in a book about Sarajevo. To top it all, there hanging on the wall was a picture of him and Bill Clinton. Yep he convinced me that was the place to buy - I always like a great story.
I did not get on a tour to Dubrovnik so am doing this on my own. I'll take a bus to Mostar tomorrow and have booked a lovely room on the recommendation of an American couple from the breakfast room. On Saturday I will go to Dubrovnik. I have decided that I am finding a relaxing beach area for a few days when I get there.