Like I mentioned in our Europe Train Challenge: Week 5 Update - Sarajevo was a city which from beginning to end, was a place we had many mixed experiences with.
The old town was so cute and cosy that nobody would be able to resist it - from morning to evening you heard the constant tapping from pots, caraffs and plates being decorated by hand in the Turkish quarter – the fragrance of freshly made Turkish coffee making its way through the winding streets, and everywhere around you people were more busy relaxing in a corner cafe than actually working.
The people here are quite different - walking along the streets you see many facial expressions which are hard to define: was it anger? resentment? hopelessness?
Some people here looked really tough, the type of people you wouldn’t want to mess with – and if you looked around yourself, past the small cute Old Town, you got a feeling that these cold stone faces had their story deeply stuck in the surroundings.
The remnants and signs from the Yugoslav war 15 years ago were still everywhere: collapsed bombed houses, bullet holes by almost every window and holes from mortar shell’s explosions deeply embedded into the foot path.
It felt as though the people were still living in their past, but who could blame them?
It must be hard for the people to move on when they are totally surrounded by their past, constantly being reminded of what happened.
Was this the reason to why everyone was smoking non-stop 24/7?
I’m not exaggerating when I’m saying this – the amount of people smoking really was insane: public transport, train stations, tourism offices, clothing shops, restaurants – you couldn’t get away from it – once we were told off by a lady for opening a window on the bus, as we gasped for some fresh air …
I heard more dry coughs and broken voices from chain smoking than I’ve ever heard before, maybe it is a result from all the pain and stress the people have gone through.
Perhaps we felt the pain even stronger since we were there when Ratko Mladic, also nicknamed “the Butcher of Bosnia” – a Serbian leader during the war who was responsible for a massacre of 8000 Muslim men and boys – finally was caught.
Our visit to Sarajevo was a very unique experience, and while we had these sobering impressions, we also had some really nice experiences there.
Bosnia is a beautiful country – full of amazing untouched nature, wild scenery, with some amazing rivers and cute villages.
Old men and women hitchhiking their way to town from their houses in the middle of nowhere, shepherds walking their sheep to the next green field in the forest and cows hanging out freely on the road side.
All in all we had a great time in Bosnia, and we found that although many people looked tough on the outside, deep down if you gave them some time they where warm and hospitable on the inside.
Have you been to Sarajevo, Bosnia? What were your impressions?