March 14, 2013 3

West Balkan trip part 3: Bosnia Herzegovnia (Sarajevo + Mostar)

By in Balkans, Travel

I never thought that I would visit Sarajevo one day, the imagery of it being under siege was still quite vivid in my mind from watching the news in the 90s. But alas we chose to include Sarajevo in our itinerary because its fascinating history and crossroad of cultures had us intrigued. On the surface, the capital of Bosnia Herzegovnia, is not an easy city to love. It even had some of the ugliest buildings I’ve ever seen (example 1, example 2). We had a great free walking guide who walked us through the city with lots of insightful information which I highly recommended.

Latin Bridge
As noted before, here’s the Latin Bridge where Franz Ferdinand was assassinated and lead to the start of WWI. The museum near the bridge used to be a cafe and it was where Gavrilo Princip, the shooter, was eating before he pulled the trigger.

Marshall Tito StreetSarajevo Roses
Sarajevo is unfortunately surrounded by high forested mountains. The main street of Sarajevo: Marshall Tito Street, used to be the most dangerous place to be during the Bosnian War as it’s an easy target from snipers who situated on the hills during the siege. Here’s a good map illustrated it. There are many memorials on the street and you see lots of Sarajevo roses: concrete scar of mortal shell explosion which resulted in one or more death, was filled with red resin.

Bombed out buildingEternal FlameBombed out buildings covered in bullet holes are still visible everywhere. The eternal flame is a memorial to the victims and military of WWII against the Nazi.

Monsieur catMonsieur cat I was delighted to find M. Chat (Monsieur Chat) on two different buildings! For those who’re familiar with the great late Filmmaker Chris Marker, he used this graffiti cat as a narrative symbol for his film essay.  More can be found around Sarajevo but we didn’t have time to look for them.

Pigeon Square at Turkish Quarter
The Old Turkish quarter in Sarajevo would make you feel like you’re in the Middle East instead of the Balkans. If we didn’t go to Turkey the year before we probably would have found the Turkish quarter to be more intriguing. Afterall it’s hard to compete with to the amazing Bazaars and Mosques at Istanbul.

We had great meals at the Turkish quarter. We randomly pick places to eat within the quarter and the food were all delicious! For example:
cevapi  cevapi
SarmaSarma: Rice and meat wrapped in grape leaves with yogurt
Bosnian food really provides a much needed palette break from all the pasta and seafood dishes that dominates Croatian and Slovenian cuisines.

Bosnian Coffee
Bosnian Coffee is very similar to Turkish coffee. Though the sweet treat is not the good Turkish delight like you would get at Turkey.

zlatna ribicazlatna ribicaAfter dinner, we went to a quirky Gothic bar + cafe call Zlatna Ribica. It’s truly one of its kind. Visual overloaded would perfectly describe the place. It’s completely filled with antiques, quirky objects, old books, photos, toys paintings…etc. The menu are “hidden” in all these old story books lying around. There’re small TVs showing static TV programs from the past. The bathroom was also something, it’s hard to describe in words, you have to be there to see it yourself!

Zlatna Ribica
Kaptol 5, 71000 Sarajevo
+387 33 215 369

View from the bridge
Next day, we took a 3 hour bus journey from Sarajevo to Mostar, a scenic Medieval town that’s known for  beautiful Islamic architecture. As soon as we arrived, the beautiful scenery took my breath away. The old town definitely had strong Ottoman Empire’s influences instead of the Austria’s.

Old Bridge
Here’s the beautiful  Old Bridge, one of the stars of Islamic architecture in the Balkans. It stood for 427 years until it was utterly destroyed during the Bosnian war. It was reconstructed and reopened in 2004.

IMG_5406Needle point Tito!
Saw an awesome Needle point Tito in one of the shop! It’s not for sale though, which is too bad.

bombed out building
Scars of war are highly visible in the immediate area surrounds the bridge. There are still many bombed out buildings and facade covered in bullet holes. You can see more here, here and here.

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3 Responses to “West Balkan trip part 3: Bosnia Herzegovnia (Sarajevo + Mostar)”

  1. I hitchhiked for the first time in Bosnia last year with my boyfriend and we didn’t know what to expect. We organized a fast intense balkan trip, so we visited just Sarajevo and Mostar on our way to Croatia and our memories about those places are very similar with yours. SInce we were expecting grey, desolated cities of a post-war struggling country, we were blown away by the gorgeous muslim architecture of the old center full with buzzling tourists mixing with western architecture around the corner. That strong first impression and our great experience in Sarajevo made me write about it; its colors and its shades too (the dark history of the Siege). Great cities to visit, great place to be!

  2. So nice to hear that you had a great time in Sarajevo (Bosnia). We have a few ecological Lodges at the Boracko Lake. It’s at a place called Konjic. A small city between Sarajevo and Mostar. It’s about 60 minutes from Sarajevo. You can have a look on our website or facebookpage http://www.herzegovina-lodges.

    Hope to welcome you one day!

  3. Even though australia is my home, my heart always remains in Bosnia, my birthplace. Sadly the war took the opportunity to grow up in this beautiful land but i am thankful for people like you, who show light on this beautiful place. It started my own blog, to continue showing people all around the world how beautiful Bosnia & Hercegovina (part where im from) is and why they should add it to their bucket lists. Ive done 3 separate trips back home in just 14 months and plan on going every year to re discover my roots. And its helped my bosnian language skills alot, as i mostly speak english at home. I HIGH RECOMMEND anyone traveling to Europe to add BOSNIA to their list. You wont regret it, and it will keep you coming back for more!