Back to my recent tour ‘on the road’ around balkans, after Ljubljana, Zagreb and Banja luka, I reached Sarajevo, by bus. Not easy to find an accomodation, as I arrived in the late evening, but eventually I was very happy to find a bed at Hostel Residence
The next day I had a tour of this beautiful city
Sarajevo is one of the most interesting and varied cities in Europe. The city is historically famous for its traditional religious diversity; Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism are coexisting there for centuries. It is also a symbol of historical turbulence and violence, as well as an hope for peace and tolerance through multi-cultural integration.After the damages caused by the Yugoslav Wars of the 1992-1995 nowadays Sarajevo is again a cosmopolitan European capital with a unique Eastern twist.
The cobbled streets, mosques and Oriental style market with small shops, restaurant and caffè at the very heart of the city are far away from western Europe, and when the call-to-prayer starts, one could think to be in the Middle East. People are very friendly, always willing to help and speak with visitors.
Sarajevo can be visited on foot, also it has a good tram network (established in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in the mid-1870, as first in Europe) all around the city centre. Don’t forget to see the Latin Bridge where on June the 28th in 1914, Archduke of the Austrian Hungarian empire, Franz Ferdinand was killed, giving a reason for World War I to begin.
Visit the beginning of the river Bosna where the water is pure and ice cold. In less than 20 minutes on foot from the city centre, you are out in the countryside, with no suburbs in between: unique for a large city. Here you can walk in a beautiful park, picnic and spend the whole day without ever getting bored.
Spend your time drinking a Bosnian coffee, there are many cozy places where you can enjoy a relaxing time, maybe speaking with some local, asking about their culture and life style. Try also a baklava, an ottoman empire sweet pastry filled with chopped nuts and sugar or honey syrup
The next day I joint a free walking tour! Is the best way to discover a city and if you are interested in local history, culture and tradition, a nice guide will introduce you to Sarajevo true spirit
Sarajevo has countless cheap bakeries (pekara) and local restaurants selling burek (delicious minced meat pie), ćevapi and pita (with cheese is called sirnica, with cheese and spinach is called zeljanica), usually served with a traditional yogurt sauce which resembles sour cream.
Most Cevapi places do not serve alcohol.
Drink local! Try rakija a strong spirit that can be found everywhere in Balkans. It will defenetly warm you up. Sarajevska pivo is a local beer that should be preferred to any other imported brands.
Where to sleep? Hostel RESIDENCE. Great location, kind and hospitable owners, very clean.
To/from the airport is possible by Bus #36 to Nedžarići (1.6 Konvertable Mark/KM) or by 200E operating directly to the city centre. Taxi fares to/from the airport are surprisingly expensive for the short distance.
There are daily trains between Sarajevo and Zagreb. There is another train route from Ploče in Croatia to Sarajevo via Mostar. One of the most beautiful and scenic rail routes in Europe, travelling through lakes and mountains with many tunnels and switchbacks. Single tickets from Sarajevo to Mostar cost 9.90 KM (return: 14.10 KM).
There are two autobus stations in Sarajevo. The main bus station (‘autobusna stanica’, by the train station) serves Croatia and most other international destinations, as well as destinations within the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is in the end of number 1 tram line that takes you to the old town. There is also another bus station in Eastern (Serb-dominated) Sarajevo on the outskirts of the city serving the Republika Srpska and destinations in both Serbia and Montenegro.
After Ljubljana I reached Zagreb (capital of Croatia) by train. Arrived at the hostel I had some fun…
Alcool is not the most important part of a tour, so a bit of sightseeing, even if at 2am is necessary…
…and as football is an important hobby for myself, why not to check the local football stadium of dinamo zagreb?
During this night city tour I could realize that 1) cinderella is still alive and lives in zagreb 2) someone in zagreb likes Maradona as in Napoli we all do!
Zagreb is a vibrant city, with a medieval ‘old city’ that has reminiscent of Vienna, Budapest, Prague and other Central-European capitals for its architecture and narrow cobbled streets. Gornji grad, (Upper Town) and Donji grad (Lower Town) are the cultural, religious, and commercial hubs of Zagreb. Most of the restaurants, bars and tourist attractions are located there. The Upper Town, is the medieval core of the city. There are many fast-food, pizza-cut, sandwich bars arround the city. Most are located in the city center. Local fast food is called burek a salty pie filled with minced meat/cheese/spinach. All bakeries (pekara) serve it, is cheap and delicious. Other specialties is called cevapi, small grilled sausages served in a pita bread. Delicious. You can also find many kebabs and pancake-to-go places. There are many good coffee shops, which do not serve food. Zagrebites seem to like to sit and linger over coffee, but eat on the go. Many bars and clubs are located around Flover square (Cvjetni trg), the main square (Trg Bana Josipa Jelačića), Preradovićeva, Tkalčićeva, Radićeva, Bogovićeva, and Gajeva streets.
After two days of fun with people met at the hostel and from the city I continued my balkan tour, destination Banja Luka and Republika Srpska, by bus, during an heavy snow storm…and a boring passport check, crossing the bosnia border.
What is interesting about this country: Bosnia suffered a war, during 1992-1995, when ex jugoslavia split itself in many republics. Nowadays bosnia is a federation of 2 entities: federation of Bosnia-herzegovina (maggiority is muslim bosniaks) and Republika Srpska (bosnian republic of serbia, mostly with orthodox serbs). Together with bosniak muslims, orthodox serbs there is a third ethnic group: christian croats.
Thankfully in Banja Luka I met a new friend, Arcibald and an interesting city
Of course I couldn’t miss the chance to visit the local football stadium…
…and try the local version of cevapi. This is a ‘must-to-do’ (together with serbian jelen pivo)