Friday, 6 April 2012

Letters from Sarajevo 5 - tying up the loose ends

As always, I wish I had written this up at the time (I did; on a beermat or the like but can't find it seeing as I have moved me and my stuff from Sarajevo to Muo to UK to Morocco to Muo to Monty B since leaving Sarajevo 2 months ago). So I'm already on photo memories - but it is enough to remind us of one of the most interesting month's of our lives.

Spending a month in such a unique city was an incredibly worthwhile experience, regardless of our purpose there (to learn the language - good job really!). I cannot imagine a more interesting place to spend some time - the recent history and dramatic tales of heroism and horror with its all too obvious scars, the extreme cold and how to deal with it, living in an urban environment without the junkies, drunks and threats of violence, meeting enthusiastic, positive young people with hope for their still-troubled country plus great winter pubs (the Sarajevska Pivara Austro-Hungarian beer hall with its fresh as fresh steins of dark beer) and proof that delicious vegetarian food can be found in the Balkans (see Happy Cow's recommendations - every one of them worth visiting plus would also recommend cheap pizza and a pint at Barhana and the beautiful homemade bread in Dvori).

We turned our flat into a classroom, flash cards ahoy! For what it was worth  - as we didn't keep it up when we got back to Montenegro, a lot of our hard work was wasted.

The Benevolent Dictator

Our riverside dog walk, a life saver in the middle of a big city

A proper coffee shop, replete with eye-wateringly thick cigarette smoke

Sarajevo Old Town - in a rare glimpse of winter sunshine

The Tunnel of Life or War Tunnel which was built by the heroic people of Sarajevo, under the airport runway, connecting free Bosnia with Sarajevo and providing the only lifeline into the city for around 4 years. An incredible piece of living history.

The unassuming house (though now quite obvious by the shrapnel marks) where the tunnel was built underneath. The family still live there and we met them.

Skender of Sarajevo Funky Tours on our tour with him (on the only sunny day in the month). Skender was a child living in the city during the war and to be able to talk to someone with the experiences he has had - and his hopes for the future - was a rare experience. (he came for coffee on our boat yesterday, by coincidence, as he is travelling through Montenegro in search of new tours for his company).

A moment of beauty

Yet more holes in buildings - this is where the Serbs hid a tank that shelled the city

Mnogo snijeg (lots of snow)

The 1984 Olympic bobsled track - or the remains of it. We walked down track into the forest. Spooky.

The lovely Ana who kindly moved in with her mother in law so we had a home for our month in Sarajevo.

Our apartment building.

Marking where inhabitants were killed on 5 May 1992

We left 5 days earlier than planned as the weather forecast was looking terrible - and within the week Sarajevo had declared a State of Emergency when the big freeze hit Eastern Europe. So we were lucky to see Mostar looking like this (we overnighted in Mostar on the way back from Sarajevo).  This is Stari Most - the bridge made famous by its destruction by the Croats during the war.

The old part of Mostar has been restored sympathetically and is quite unique. I bet it is lovely in the summer as it has lots of restaurants on little terraces overlooking the river. In January pretty much everything was shut.

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