At the train station, way too early this morning
We were up at 5:15 this morning…another way too early start. But the train to Sarajevo goes at 6:39 a.m. or sometime after dark. We felt we got a pretty good handle on Mostar so we went for the early train to give us the better part of a day in Sarajevo.
The hotel called us a cab which arrived quickly. We went to the train station and arrived with lots of time to spare. Cabs are cheap here, and we’ve gotten in the habit of taking them. In Sarajevo, the “drop”, or the initial charge is 1.50 KM and each kilometer is 1 KM. KM stands for convertible marks, the local currency. 1 KM is worth about 50 cents. So….as I said, cabs are cheap. The cab to the train station was like 4 dollars.
We arrived and went into a time warp of a train station. I don’t think anything has changed since the fall of communism. Stark, concrete, open, with no benches. We went to the window, run by one single person. We bought two tickets for a cost of 24 KM. That’s for both of us. So our train ticket from Mostar to Sarajevo was 6 bucks a person.
The train arrived, and we boarded and stowed our luggage. It was dark outside so there wasn’t much to see until it got light. When the sun came up we were traveling through the mountains and it was quite scenic. 2 hours and 10 minutes after we left Mostar, we arrived in Sarajevo. It’s around 9 a.m. when we catch a cab.
The Sarajevo train station looks like something out of a movie
We arrive at the hotel and the room is already ready and they let us check in early. We unload all our stuff and it’s also laundry day. Today is a “work” day, where we reposition, do laundry, and hopefully learn a bit more about the city. We gather our laundry and head out to a place I found online that does a wash/dry/fold for 15 KM. Sounds like a deal so we take a cab to the place and drop off our laundry.
At this point we haven’t eaten today. We wind up in a Turkish place off the square and share a huge grilled meats platter. We probably ate too much. Actually…there was no probably about it. After this we wander and it starts to rain. Laurie buys a cheap umbrella and we continue to wander the Turkish quarter. Our day is punctuated with coffee stops to get out of the rain and get warm.
We pick up our laundry and take it back to the hotel. We think it’s an excellent deal for 7.50 dollars or 15KM. After dropping our laundry we head back out and take the local tram back to the old town. The trams are mostly real communist era trams and are sorta clunky and odd looking, but run along just fine. A tram ticket, if you buy it at a newspaper stand is 1.60KM or 1.80 KM if you get it from the tram driver. We’ve read to ride the trams at your own risk due to pickpockets but we had absolutely no problem.
A pretty huge hotel room. Our cost for this was $144 dollars for three nights
We get off the tram and go to the Museum of Crimes against Humanity and Genocide 1992-1995. It documents the crimes that occurred during the ethnic cleansing during that time. The items in the museum were actual items from people who were victims, and if I’m not mistaken so is the museum staff.
There were shirts with bullet holes and blood on them from people that perished and those that survived. So many artifacts and so many stories about finding mass graves, people being tortured, atrocities that would boggle the mind.
The story is familiar: Different people, different place, different religion…….and the same old story. Someone doesn’t like the differences of someone else, and manipulates those under them into killing those they don’t like (in this case including genocide). I wonder if we'll ever learn....
Like most genocide, a very large percentage of the atrocities were committed against civilians and not the military. Purposely bombing children playing on a playground, snipers shooting children and the elderly. 8000 were killed in one single incident. After being here and learning more about this, I understand their caution in dealing with the other countries of the former Yugoslavia.
Bosnian fritters with sour cream. Like fried biscuits. WAY too good.
We had a great Bosnian dinner at a place that translates from Bosnian to English as “Grandma’s Kitchen”. The food was WAY too good. Although we actually only had two meals today….I still need to eat less here. This stuff ain’t exactly Weight Watcher’s friendly.
Rick Steves had a guy from Sarajevo on his radio show and podcasts named Amir. He had incredibly compelling stories about his life in Sarajevo, surviving the siege as a young adult, losing family, and of Sarajevo in general. I did some searching and found him. I was looking for a tour guide here and figured he would be good help. Tomorrow, Amir will take us around Sarajevo.
Goodnight everyone. Merry Christmas!
Sarajevo slide show, Day 1