Last Day in Sarajevo

Today is my last day in Sarajevo. My check out is 10:00 am so I am getting a later start this morning while I pack up. I snack on my leftover cheese and bread. Last night I remembered to carry my ziplock with me so I can have what I call purse cheese – a term I coined because I love ordering cheese plates but as a solo traveler it is too much dang cheese for one person. So I am not wasting I try to save some it to enjoy later if the temperature allows or I have a refrigerator in my room. I pack up and put my bags in the lobby to explore what I may have missed.

I had potato burek yesterday and today I try the one with meat. I realize it is a mistake because not being hungry since I already had morning cheese. They give me way too much burek even though I stress I want the small portion. Also it is very greasy. I throw a big amount of it away because I don’t think it will keep well while I explore town due to the excessive grease.

I wander around and see some things I missed previously.

I stop by the market. It doesn’t seem to be a busy day today. Also I don’t see booths available to sample local cheeses like I’ve read online. I wonder if COVID took this industry out?

I walk by the eternal flame of Sarajevo for the victims of the Second World War.

I visit a highly recommended Gallery 11/07/95 and I dont regret it. The museum is a display of photographs from mostly one photographer of the time of the war in the 1990’s. The first exhibit is the photographs of those brutally murdered in the massacre of Srebrenica in July 1995. These photos and the photos of the aftermath paint a clear picture of the horrors that happened. The audio guide is essential for this tour. After there is some Sarajevo advertisements and finally a film at the end called Miss Sarajevo. I took the 30 minutes to watch the documentary. It is a very powerful documentary that focuses mostly on the school kids and students during the war of the early 1990’s in Sarajevo, set to powerful music of U2. It made me emotional because I was finishing high school and starting college at the time of this conflict. I couldn’t imagine having to dodge bullets from snipers while trying to attend college classes. We see students doing just that in this movie. If you have a chance to watch it online then do so.

This is hard to see. Basically the UN failed this town.

The museum is so emotional I don’t have it in me to visit another museum today and learn about more atrocities. I go have an afternoon wine instead. I am still not hungry but I know with my train ride it will be a while before I can eat later so I stop to get cevapi once more. Again it is very good but very filling.

Pistachio cake thing

I pick up my bags and head to the train station. I assume the train station was a very nice place for the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics but unfortunately it has not seemed to be renovated since. The government has a hard time with infrastructure projects post war. While waiting for my train I get in trouble for taking a picture inside. I joke that the reason no photos are allowed because they don’t want the world to know they haven’t updated the train station since the Yugoslavian era.

Despite the shaky infrastructure I am sad to leave Sarajevo. I am certain I could have spent another 3 days here with just exploring local museums and other day trips. I must return some day.

Now I head off on the scenic ride to Konjic. The train ride from Sarajevo to Mostar is supposed to be one of the top train rides in Europe. (I stop half way in Konjic). Unfortunately I choose the wrong side of the train. The sun is setting on my side and between the sun blocking and the reflecting on the dirty window I don’t see as much. It is very beautiful on the other side of the train. So I say if you take the ride in the morning sit on the right and for afternoon sit on the left (facing the direction of travel).

I arrive in Konjic to my apartment rental. I can tell already I should not have done an overnight here (I almost eliminated this as an overnight and changed my mind when hotel alterations were challenging). It is slow season here and many things seem to be closed. It is cold out and no one wants to be out I guess. Thank goodness I am still full from earlier because I cannot find any restaurants that are catching my eye.

Fall of Yugoslavia

Today is an other long day. I originally planned to attend a Fall on Yugoslavia tour in the morning and do local sightseeing in the afternoon. An hour before my tour is supposed to start they ask if I’d like to go to the 2:00 PM tour and additionally attend the 10:30 AM free city walking tour. Because I realize it’s off-season and I am flexible I agree. I have extra time so I order burek and Bosnian coffee for breakfast. The burek, or Bosnian pie, has potatoes. The standard serving is large and served with yogurt. I like it but not sure I’d eat it every day. The cafe I stop at has a basketball on its sign. Since I’ve seen basketballs multiple times on signs I take the time to google the significance: during the Yugoslav era the region had many powerful basketball players.

Once I start my walking tour I realize I am very happy I joined the tour. I am learning so much about the city that I would not have otherwise learned. This afternoon is very specific to the Fall of Yugoslavia whereas this tour gives me more of an overview of the history from the ancient times, Ottoman Empire, Austrian-Hungarian times and so on.

We walk around town. In one street alone you can tell the different time periods from the architecture: Ottoman Empire, astro-Hungarian architecture, and then brutalist architecture from the Yugoslavian times (East meets West).

We learn more about what ignited WWI. We learn about how 3 main religions live here in harmony.

We learn how things are slow to progress due to the current political system. Since BiH is represented by 3 primary ethnic groups (Croats, Serbs and ethnic Bosnians) that are unwilling to fully relinquish power the government is run by three presidents or three parties who take turns being in charge. This system leads to chaos and most certainly corruption. It is stunting the progress of a beautiful country. Many have dreams of one day joining the Euro zone like some of its former Yugoslav brothers but at this point it never seems possible.

We visit the famous church in town and learn about the rose of Sarajevo that was caused by shelling during the war of the 1990’s.

We also pick up on places where signs of the war still exist. They don’t leave them unrepaired for remembrance, it is just the government just ccan’t get around to making the repairs….for a war that has been over almost 30 years.

I say goodbye to my fantastic tour guide and after the tour I have a break so I get a snack. I soon meet up for my Fall of Yugoslavia tour. I am pleased to find it is the same tour guide from this morning. We hop in a van and head out to see some sights related to the fall of Yugoslavia and the war of the early 1990’s. I’m not going to give an entire history here because it is long and complicated but within ten years after Josip Tito (former leader of Yugoslavia) died in 1980 some of the countries that formed Yugoslavia decided to declare independence, for various reasons. The initial countries to do so were Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia. There was opposition to this by Yugoslav loyalists and as a result the region was full of conflict throughout the early 1990’s. I slightly remember it because I was in school at the time and I do remember the term ethnic cleansing being used frequently. It was a horrible war now that I go back to learn it as an adult.

We start at the yellow fortress where we are given a view of the city.

We visit a hospital destroyed in the war. Our guide tells us how a nearby stadium is used as a mass grave.

We visit the Tunnel of Hope and tunnel museum. This tunnel, the start on private land, allowed soldiers and supplies to travel under the airport and to/from the mountains to be undetected by the Bosnian Serb army. It was a lifeline to the Sarajevo community during the war. We got to sample the tunnel and watched very powerful footage of soldiers using the tunnels to transport supplies to the local people. My guide was a student at the time but her father was a soldier that used the tunnel. We got her unique perspective on the war.

We then visit the abandoned bobsled course from the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics, a proud moment for the locals. It was once used in the war of 1990’s and now is a place for street art and tourists to visit.

We finish with a stop at an abandoned building where we have lovely views of the city. Teenage me would have loved exploring this abandoned building in the middle of the night. I suppose this destroyed building has a different meaning to locals.

I am back in town and it is raining. I stop at a wine bar until I decide what I want for dinner. My meals the last couple days have been meat heavy and I am craving vegetables so I find a place that will serve a mixed cheese plate and grilled vegetables. Of course it is way too much food but the stomach wants what the stomach wants. I am not so much a fan of the travnik cheese (feta type) because it is a little salty for my taste but all the other cheeses served, including the blue which I never love, were very good. I eat all my cheese alternating bites with the grilled veggies to make sure I get a little nutrition while I travel.

I still haven’t tried the local brandy so I stop by a local place and try rakija. It’s just me and what I assume is the owner’s family in the bar, or at least they gave the appearance of being family. I sampled my very strong brandy in what felt like someone’s house. One sample is all I have in me so I call it quits for the night afterwards.

Jayce, Pliva Lakes, and Travnik

Mill houses at Pliva Lakes

This might be the two glasses of affordable wine and jet lag talking but I really like Bosnia so far. I slept almost a complete night last night so I hope I am well rested for today: a day tour of areas north of Sarajevo.

Good morning Sarajevo

We start the tour by visiting the Pliva lakes. One of the advantages of visiting off season is that we have the lakes almost completely to ourselves. One disadvantage is that it is chilly and overcast. During the summer people swim and do water sports here. We only have a short stop but it is beautiful for the time we visit.

The highlight of the area is the mill houses on the lake. They were once used for local housing but now they are mostly a tourist attraction.

I also learn about the fun but political Bosnian music group Dubioza Kolektiv. I am really enjoying their tunes while we go from location to location

We then walk the old town of Jajce to the Jajce fortress (Yie-sz to pronounce, I only include this because I had no idea). It is the best preserved fortress from the former Bosnian Kingdom. The Bosnian kingdom lasted about 100 years around 1300’s to 1400’s. We enjoy nice views of the city of Jajce.

We then visit the old Bear Tower, named so because the walls were strong as a bear.

We walk down stairs to the catacombs that were never actually used for their intended purpose – to bury Hrvoje Vukcic Hrvatinic and his family. It was used as a church. Notable is the cross symbol on the lower level accompanied by the moon and the sun. These two symbols often appear in Bosnian history as they tried to mix the former pagan symbols with Christianity symbols.

We walk into the newer part of town and see two memorials to people fallen in the war of Yugoslavia. We have lunch at a local restaurant where I finally try Cevapi. The bread is the most amazing thing I’ve had in a while. I added the cream cheese on the side and it takes like a combination of sour cream and butter. Very rich.

We walk over to the Jajce waterfall. My guides insist this place is even more beautiful in the summer (it is Spring). I don’t see how it can get much better than this.

Our next stop is at Travnik where we visit another fortress, this town is very important in the origins of the Bosnian Kingdom. It is in the museum we learn about all the different eras of Bosnia from prehistoric, to the Ottoman, Austo-Hungarian, Yugoslavia, to present day. One display is traditional dress from the three distinct ethic groups: Bosnians, Serbs and Croats. We learn about an annual scrambled egg festival.

We stop for Bosnian coffee, not unlike Turkish coffee if you are familar. This place near the water has a special where the cofffee comes with a cigarette – smoking can be considered a national pastime here, it is still wildly popular.

We then visit an old restored mosque. It is very nice inside. I forgot my scarf today but luckily they had some to borrow.

Coffee shop in the mosque building

After our last stop it is the long ride back to Sarajevo to complete the tour. As always I wish I had more time at all of the stops but the tour is a great introduction to a beautiful country.

For dinner I choose a small but cute restaurant. I didn’t try the Travnik cheese earlier so I want to try that and other local cheeses but knowing I cannot handle all that cheese at once I settle on only the one. It is a feta like cheese. Very salty but good. For my main course I order a squid ink seafood risotto. I am also very happy with my affordable glasses of local wine. It is raining and I am jet lagged so I head to bed after dinner.

It is a nice full long day in Bosnia & Herzegovina .

Back at it again

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzgovina

Having to hurry up tonight to document my thoughts because I am in a fog of lack of sleep and jet lag due to my twenty something hour three flight journey to where I am now: Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I’d say my flight was pretty much uneventful except the slight delay on the first leg where I had an already tight connection to my first international leg. I did stop to use the bathroom but only because the rest of the time I ran to the gate. I make it just in time only to see that yes I am in a middle seat for the entire nine hour flight. Booking through United Airlines I had no way to choose my seats for two out of three flights. The bottom line is I survived. I barely slept on the flights though so I am hoping that when I go to bed tonight I will have a long and rejuvenating sleep.

This is the start of the “third” round of traveling around the world. Unlike my two previous rounds I will be sticking to one continent this time around – Europe. I will also concentrate on Eastern Europe meaning the Balkan/former Austrian-Hungarian empire with some northern countries thrown in. I’m excited because while I’ve seen a good amount of Europe all these countries are very new to me.

Spot that ignited World War I

I take the bus from the airport into town because it is so cheap and convenient. I don’t know what stop to get off but follow everyone else when they exit. The walk is short to the apartment/hotel I rented.

At the rental apartment there is no one in yet to greet me but someone does buzz me in. There is also a key out for me and my door is unlocked. I drop my bags and drag myself out to eat. I’m famished. I originally wanted cevapi but decided on something else instead. I eat dinner and wander around town and buy a container of way too much Turkish delight.

Local white wine
Sarma or stuffed cabbage
Bosnian style pita bread

It is a delightful yet touristy town from my first observations. I am looking forward to exploring more of it when I am well rested. From the looks of some in winter coats I should feel colder than I do but I am comfortable enough walking around in my short sleeved shirt. I‘ll probably still carry a jacket around just in case the weather finally catches up to my body. In the sun it feels pretty darn warm though.


I have one more free breakfast at my hotel since I am still enjoying the rate my friend booked. My friend is out the door when I am still half sleeping and I am sad to see her go. I have one more day in Dublin and today I am taking a day trip to the peninsula of Howth. It is supposed to be pretty out there and worthy of a day trip.

Lobby of my hotel

I leave at 8:30 and walk 30 minutes to the Dart station (Dublin Pearce). On the way I walk through a park I have yet to walk through. I definitely need to spend more time in Dublin. I will return.

When I get off the train I consult the trail map and admire all the boats in the water.

I pick a trail that walks the coast and go on my way. The trails are color coded and most follow the same path for a long while but mine suddenly disappears. I follow one of the other ones for a while until I get near the lighthouse and then there is a visible exit to a parking lot. I decide to head back that way. I follow the roads back into town. I want to head in to catch some fresh crab and lobster for lunch.

I am disappointed to find that I can find no fresh crab or lobster anywhere today. I am assuming they are not in season. I decide to get lunch at King Sitric Seafood Bar, the place I had picked out for today anyway. I enjoyed a snack of oysters and a cheese crab dish thing (not fresh crab apparently).

I walk around the rest of town. Noticing no crabs available anywhere. I am still a little hungry and intrigued about the half and half fish and chips (half traditional fish and half smoked fish). I wouldn’t say it tastes bad because under normal circumstances I would like it but I am absolutely sick of greasy fish and chips. I have a very hard time eating it. Unfortunately I end up tossing most of it.

After already getting the most out of the town for the day I head back by train to Dublin.

At the start of the day I had planned to come back from Howth and see the Epic museum and go see an evening Celtic show. None of that is happening. The most I can do is walk back through town, get ice cream and get another look at St Patrick cathedral.

The next morning I find my flight already delayed so I switch my itinerary to fly into a different airport in the USA.

I have one more whisky at the airport. I realize I have already gone through customs here in Dublin so I don’t need to do so in the USA. I could have carried on some bottles from duty free all the way back home if I really wanted too. I am not sure why I didn’t pick up some bottles of local whisky.

I going home for a month or so. I have a music festival, a friend coming into town, a grand birthday to celebrate in New Orleans at the French Quarter Fest, and hope to catch up with some friends and family back home before I go out to travel again.

After two months what have I learned?

I am heading home after two months of traveling.

What have I learned from this go around of traveling, because really for me traveling is about learning and growing and not necessarily relaxation.

  • I can no longer stay in moist climates or moldy/moist lodging for too long or I will have sinus issues.
  • Some people’s idea of paradise can be hell for others – Bali. There are plenty of good things about Bali but for me the bad outweighed the good.
  • Even with my broken body and advanced age I can still do many things with time and patience (surfing). Imagine what I could have accomplished if I didn’t get sick during my surf week!
  • I value my alone time but I also don’t mind much having travel companions. In fact it is quite nice.
  • I am amazed of how friendly and accepting people can be outside of the USA. At home I feel invisible most of the time outside of my friend group or network. While traveling people see me and are generally interested in me. It is a good feeling and makes me try to come out of my shell to reciprocate. 
  • Many of my “issues” are due to the standard American lifestyle and diet. Over the weeks of traveling I noticed my need for over the counter anti-acid medicine and topical pain cream lessened and almost disappeared. I hope I don’t go home a return to like it was before.

Catch up with you soon when I am back on the road.