|City panorama from one of the city hills in Sarajevo.|
I am back from the Balkans and currently going through the usual post-travel blues syndrome. With some Bosnian coffee on my table, as always, and some background music to keep the memories alive for longer, here comes the first small set of photos I took while in Sarajevo this July.
After so many visits, Sarajevo has become so well-known to me that I am no more sure I can call it a touristic destination. Just like in most former Yugoslavian towns, my assimilation speed here has never stopped to surprise me when compared to the long years I need to adjust having spent so long in Dubai. Once again, my bus was passing the Bosnian mountains, and once again I pressed my face against the window, wondering what is it that pulls me back to these places over and over again.
Bascarsija as always and one of the first clicks I took in the city center. This is, of course, next to Sebilj fountain. In fact, this is exactly where my hostel was on my final return to the city once again after all the travelling around Bosnia. The little bakery right next to it was a rather difficult temptation to avoid.
However, this is not where I stayed on my arrival at the start of my trip. The first day, after a little rain that had been chasing our bus all the way from Belgrade, from time to time covering us with raindrops, covered sunny Sarajevo and disappeared with all of its traces in less than half an hour, we arrived at the hostel early in the afternoon. Tired and with all our bags with us, we walked down Bistrik to the city center. The welcoming lady who was rather impressed with the fact that I spoke Bosnian to her, quickly checked out information and gave us the key to a small room on the hill, asking a local girl (whose name I forgot to ask, shame on me!) to show us around. While I was happily practicing my language skills with her once again, we were taken on one of the hills into the older mahala-like areas in the old city center, and although the walk was rather tiring for someone who has grown up in flat and vast Russian steppes and has been living in even flatter Middle Eastern desert, it was well worth in the end - the view is unbelievable, and the area is rather quiet for a nice stroll every evening, which is exactly what we have been doing every day.
The little road down the hill turns behind Inat Kuca and leads you to once nice and quiet place by the Miljacka river. Perhaps due to the house which covers it from unnecessary touristic eyes, or because of the fact that it is not so easily seen from the main bridge across, this area is usually empty. The stairs, paved with old stones, lead down to the Miljacka water, although I would not advice going down there for uninformed tourists because the water isn't very clean. We spent most of the evening sitting on these stairs and watching the city life happen around from the new secret cosy spot of ours.
|The finally reconstructed Vijecnica is reflecting in the waters of the river.|
Miljacka is usually very low, but as the banks suggest - the waters can get very high, which they in fact did during the last flooding this summer which has caused significant damage to some structures. Even stronger floods in the past have been said to destroy some of the bridges that cover the entire river across the city, so many have been reconstructed.
|Miljacka river and the Princip Bridge in the background.|
Once the center of city's trading life and the main market in the city, Bascarsija is now polluted with tourists as well as fast-selling non-authentic items that these tourists can buy. However, many streets have preserved traditional crafts, with coffee pots, sets and similar souvenirs being among the most popular. Here you can see the process of their production with your own eyes, by hand of course, and get some of the items for a very reasonable price.
|Souvenirs on Bascarsija.|
|Bascarsija master decorating a coffee pot.|
I spent an entire day on Bascarsija, firstly because by the end of my holiday I was finally alone and had the chance to experience anything I wanted, and secondly because I was about to depart to the border and wanted to purchase some more souvenirs. A stop in one of the local coffee shops midst the day rush is what I define as my definition of Balkan heaven - as a coffee-obsessed individual, nothing can make my day better than a cup of traditional Balkan coffee while having a look at the center of my favorite city in the former Yugoslavia. As part of my own tradition, I bought yet another coffee set, some local sweets, a great textile bag with the Sebilj fountain on it.
Late at night before my departure, I had my last quiet walk around the city center and drank some water from the fountain outside the mosque. One of the local legends says that if you drink the water from this place, you will remember the place forever and return to Sarajevo (although other local legends say exactly the same thing about the Sebilj fountain as well). I do not think I need to test this theory over and over again having made five visits to Sarajevo by now.
"I don't think I should return here so many times!" I told my friend, holding the Bosnian coins marks that I had not yet spent and now wished to exchange back into Euros.
"Knowing you, I don't think you should exchange these. Save them for the next time."
And here I am, back to Dubai, with Balkan tunes in the background and another cup of coffee I should not be having, and from what I have been going through the last to weeks - I am now pretty sure she was right.