Travelling to Sarajevo from Split via Metković and crossing the B&H border near Mostar was both pleasant and at times very sad. The scars of the recent war of the 1990s were very apparent, with abandoned houses, standing like shell-shocked burnt-out shells, places where families once lived, where children once played and where farmers once worked their fields and tended their animals. The drive further on to Jablanica was spectacular as we followed the Neretva River through the majestic gorge all the way to Konjic..from there the road wound through lush green hills, a further 60km drive to Sarajevo. The distance from Split to Sarajevo is 245 km and takes approximately 4.5 hours depending on traffic and the border crossing.
Arriving early evening it was decided to drop our bags at the apartment, freshen up and head into town to explore the city. My travelling partner Lucija is an American from California, with Croatian heritage on her father’s side from Herzegovina. Lucija’s husband Samir, is from Sarajevo of the Muslim faith, living in Split, on the central Dalmatian Coast. It was a treat to be escorted through this city that Lucija has come to know very well during the past 20 years.
The first place of interest was the Latin Bridge where the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was carried out by Bosnian Gavrilo Princip, sparking the start of World War 1, a very historical spot, followed by a speciality of Bosnia, a Turkish coffee and disgustingly delicious handmade chocolates! (A must-have!)
Walking on to the National Library, fondly known as the Vjenćnice in Sarajevo, a very amazing thing happened! We stood in awe of the exquisite architecture and I was taking photos when a car stopped and the driver, a young Bosnian man called out to me. The traffic was heavy, he was obstructing the flow, yet he wanted to urgently tell me something! I ran down the steps to his car, his handsome face glowed with the lights of the oncoming traffic, and with his outstretched arm, he pointed to the building and shouted, ‘This is my Home! This is Sarajevo! I love you for coming!!! The passion for his Homeland and his city was overwhelming.
This building had been destroyed by the Serbian Army in 1992. Two million books and articles were destroyed needlessly.
Alma is a young Bosnian woman who survived the siege of Sarajevo. As a young girl of 8 years old, she witnessed the horror day by day, including the burning of the National Library close to her home. She explained to us all about the restoration and the pride she feels for her city..her handshake was firm, her personality warm, and the love for her country was very obvious.
The famous stained glass of the National Library building ‘Vjećnice’, totally restored with the help of EU Funding.
The most widespread religion in Bosnia & Herzegovina is the Muslim faith of Islam. It was introduced to the local population in the 15th and 16th Centuries by the Turkish Ottoman conquest of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatian Roman Catholics and Orthodox Serbs are in the minority. A short 4-hour drive from the Dalmatian coast transports one into another world..of minarets, with the ‘Call For Prayer’ resounding across the city at various times through the day and evening, together with Turkish coffee, cevapčići, stuffed peppers, sweets and spices of all descriptions, stunning women in their hijabs, alongside Max Mara, Armani, and the elegance of the Austro Hungarian era in many of the villas, city buildings, cafes and restaurants.
In the central park, we came across the memorial to the thousands of children that died in the recent war. The story of a Bosnian Muslim father, RAMO, calling to his young son Nermin to surrender to the Serbian army. He yelled to his boy, ‘SURRENDER, THEY WON’T HURT YOU!’ Sadly, How wrong he was! Both the body of father and son were exhumed in 2008. LEST WE FORGET! The names of the children killed, (murdered) in the war.
When in Sarajevo, this bar is a MUST DO OR DIE place! The ‘Zlatna Ribica’ (Golden Fish) was opened 30 years ago by Slobodan Matić and is a place where anybody who’s anybody, or wants to be is found, is definitely seated here. Open for superb coffee in the morning, and packed, packed, packed in the evenings until 3.00am!
Light fittings and lampshades ..nostalgia and romance..at ‘Zlatna Ribica’ (The Golden Fish)
Sarajevo Ceramics and copper pots…
The restaurant we enjoyed most was the well known 4 Sobe gospođe Safije, (4 Rooms of Mrs Safije) The Bosnian cuisine was traditional and superb, the service brilliant, and the wine from Herzegovina was outstanding! A perfect evening in a perfect setting. Ambience plus! The seafood was prepared and cooked to perfection and the Tribunia wine from Herzegovina was absolutely excellent!
Not to be missed..a ride on the new cable car, and lunch up the mountain at Restaurant Bibana for a perfect view of the city..fortunately, we met with Emina, a family relative of Lucija, and as we dined we chatted about life in the city as it is today, Emina explained all about her lifestyle as a mother of two children and her husband Mustafa. Both are well educated and have had the opportunity to travel and work abroad for much higher salaries, but they prefer to stay in their own country enjoying the simple life, speaking and reading their own language, with hope for a better future for their children. A delightful young woman that I was destined to meet.
During this week Lucija and I attended the Sarajevo Film Festival, enjoying 4 International films of distinction..
During the Film Festival, we were fortunate to meet Natasha Govedarica, a young Bosnian woman who presented the films on stage at the National Theatre. We stopped to chat complimenting her on her professionalism, superb style, and warm personality.
A Cyprian Turkish movie, SMUGGLING HENDRIX, a political comedy set on the front line during the days of the turbulent war between Turkey and Cyprus easily became one of our favourite films, starring Adam Bousdoukos. Each film we saw gave us much food for thought, and we’ll be back again next year to this city of great diversity, culture, and good times!
THANK YOU SARAJEVO! Robyn Vulinovich and Lucija Kordić in Sarajevo – August 2018