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.

Jebel Shams plus goodbye Oman

Jebel Shams coffee shop

I apologize in advance for the long post. I know its long but I just wanted to sum up the end of my trip to Oman in one more post. I am very glad I made the time to visit.


We start the morning with breakfast then a morning walk around the town of Nizwa. We learn the history of the town and we admire the architecture which is a mix of old abandoned buildings, some made of mud and such, and the nicely restored historic buildings.

We head to the souq and are given a tour of the different parts of the souq. We have free time to shop afterwards. I only buy a couple things but I do taste many different types of dates at the date souq. I eye the tahini making machine and a gentleman working the shop gives me a warm sample of the freshly made tahini. Being so very good I am tempted to buy a jar to take with me but I still have a couple weeks left for my travels so it is not a practical idea. I go into an air conditioned building with the upstairs “antique market”. I am disappointed because there are no antiques here, just junk I can get in the USA or other countries. I do enjoy a pistachio coffee from the shop upstairs though.

I ate camel

We stop at the home of a bee farmer where we are fed a nice home cooked meal. We actually get to try camel today. It is quite good, especially how it is seasoned with a beef like flavor. It’s funny how I will no longer ride animals like camels but I am still eating them. I keep saying one day I will break down and become a vegetarian – but today is not that day. We are also taught how to eat like an Omani – on the floor, with our right hand.

We are then served coffee, thyme tea with honey, more dates and fruit. I am very full after this meal. I try a date covered in tahini and sesame.

We head to town to visit his honey shop but only after having a nice nice nature walk.

Jebel Shams

We make our way to Jebel Shams where we are staying the night. This area is known for its Grand Canyon. Impressive on its own, it isn’t as big as the Grand Canyon in the USA, but still very nice to look at. We head from there to watch the sunset over some mountains. It is noticeably cooler here. In the evening a jacket is needed. I even stole the comforter to use off the other bed in my room to stay warm in the evening.

Lodging in Jebel Shams

After dinner most of us call it an early night.

The next morning we meet for a hike along the side of the canyon. We only go a small portion of the 7 km trail but it is nice and we see great views.

We then take a very rocky road down into a valley that tests the limits of our 4×4 automobiles. Amazing views appear around every corner. We eventually get to the bottom and visit another small town. We take a short walk around. This area is called Wadi Bani Awf.

We have bought another picnic lunch and head outside a nearby snake gorge to eat. We have a few minutes to explore the path before we leave. We don’t have too much time so we don’t go very far ahead. I have of course seen things like this before but it doesn’t make these canyons less fascinating to me. I wish we had more time here.

We head back to muscat where many of us say goodbye. Some of us have one last dinner. I make my final goodbyes and go back to prepare for my 2:00 AM pickup for the airport. I am off to another country. My last before returning to the USA soon.

I couldn’t resist a Zatar croissant at the airport

Muscat day tour

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

In 2020 the Sultan Qaboos bin Said passed away. He had ruled from 1970 and oversaw the country in a great transformation. He made sure the people were well taken care of, built infrastructure and most importantly brought peace and safety to the region. In 2001 he dedicated a great mosque to the country, Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. It is a large and very nice mosque that we were able to visit. This is the only place in Oman where I really felt the need to cover up – Cover body and hair completely.

Opera house

We next stop at the Opera house but we don’t pay to go inside. I am not sure why, perhaps because of time. It is a very nice building.

Fish market

Fisheries are very important to the Oman economy. We visit the local fish market in Muscat. We see where fish salesmen sell their daily catch. It surprisingly doesn’t smell too bad in the market. The people who run the market do a very good job at cleaning. A cat or two wanders around waiting for pieces of fish guts to drop on the ground. They might have better luck at another market.

Back to souq

We return back to the Mutrah Souq. A few of us visited yesterday but the rest of the group did not. I am not in the mood to shop so I spend the time reading and walking around the market and surrounding areas.

Palace and forts and old town

We drive by some old forts and stop in front of the palace for a short stroll. This palace is the palace that is used for official visits. It is not a place of residence for the Sultan.

Meal with Sidab women’s group

Part of what makes Intrepid tours so great is that they carve out portions of the trip where you are able to meet with locals. Today we have lunch with a women’s group that helps support other woman and uses sewing and other skills to sell things to make money. One of their efforts is to sew interesting shopping bags to replace the disposable plastic bags used in the country. It is an uphill battle because people love their plastic bags.

We also learn about frankincense. Oman is said to have the best frankincense in the world. Now I know what those small rocks at the souq were.

Many stop at the museum but I head back to the hotel to rest for afternoon because still jet lagged. Some are meeting for dinner again at a nearby restaurant but I am still full from lunch so I skip the evening dinner.

Tomorrow we head down the coast to Ras Al Jinz.

Last hours in Girona

I am leaving Girona today to head to Barcelona. It is a quick train ride – less than an hour. Barcelona hotel check-in is later so I have some free time in Girona this morning. I take a morning walk and order a breakfast and a coffee. There is a flower market down the main shopping district. It seems like this market might have had more vendors in the past, perhaps another covid casualty?

There is a laundromat close to the hotel. This is a great opportunity to clean all my clothes one last time this trip. There is a nice view out the back window. I drop my bag with clean clothes back at the hotel to hold while I go out.

The Cinema Museum or Museu de Cinema has caught my eye so I decide to visit.

The museum starts with an introductory movie then you follow a series of interactive exhibits that build chronologically with the technical advancements.

The first exhibits are about the use of shadows.

I learn how they discover how to take images and make movement appear.

There are so many different cameras and projectors on display.

After the museum I walk around the city and notice a foam party in the park. Kids are digging it (no pictures out of respect).

I couldn’t resist one more stop at the Rocambolesc. I later discover this is an international chain so I have a feeling I’ll see this place again.

I stroll back to my hotel to grab my bag and head off to Barcelona. I will miss Girona. I like this quiet non-crowded town.


Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba

Today’s day trip is a visit to Córdoba, a city a little over an hour from where I staying. Córdoba is famous for La Mezquita – a mosque/cathedral, as well as its beautiful garden patios. The city is rich in Muslim and roman history.

Ten years ago I tried to visit Córdoba as a day trip from Sevilla. I had planned that trip with lots of unreasonable expectations; it is hard enough to keep yourself to a timeline and even harder if you have another person traveling with you. We couldn’t make the day trip to Córdoba happen. It has always been in the back of my mind that I needed to return. Therefore I am here today doing that day trip, finally.

The train ride to Córdoba is about an hour long from Granada. I book the 7:30 am train and knowing that sometimes trips sell out I book my return trip as well. The afternoon train times are pricey so I decide to take the 8:10 PM in the evening and decide I’ll just enjoy the extra time in the city. This is a poor decision on my part for reasons I will explain shortly.

Today’s itinerary contains a number of planning failures. Today is a Monday and I failed doing the appropriate research for visiting on a Monday. I correctly booked in advance my visit to La Mezquita (Catedral de Córdoba) since those tickets are limited. However I failed to realize that a great number of places of interest are actually closed on Mondays. This is amateur error on my part – I am typically good at picking up these nuances. Things being generally closed combined with face-melting heat make this day trip an interesting visit (my analogy for today’s weather is that it feels similar to what you see in the Raiders of the Lost Arc when the nazi’s, rightly so, have their faces melted).

Upon my arrival I start from the train station and wander the quiet streets of Córdoba with the destination of La Mezquita de Córdoba .

I enter the courtyard and patiently wait for the opening of La Mezquita which also happens to be my scheduled reservation time. While waiting I hear the bells chime from the Bell Tower.

Finally its time to line up and enter.

The structure I am entering was started as a Visigoth basilica in the 6th century and then turned into a mosque and then a cathedral. In its history it has expanded many times by different rulers. The diagrams and audio tour talks about each expansion. La Mezquita another good example of mixing lots of different styles into one building.

I notice another painting of my now favorite giant from the bible, Saint Christopher.

The mezquita is quite large but I have finally reached the end of my visit. I’ve worked up an appetite so I stop for a quick snack.

Manolas Empanadas

After my snack I hit my first road block: the Museo Taurino de Córdoba is closed on Mondays. However behind the museum and down the alley is a nice little artist alcove. It is here I finally get to see one of the patios that the city is famous for.

Museo Taurino de Córdoba

I almost find myself buying some earings by an artesian here but unable to decide on a pair I walk away empty handed.

Nearby I view Estatua de Maimónides, a bronze sculpture of the philosopher, theologian & doctor, Cordovan Ben Maimónides.

I walk on to discover the La Sinagaga is another place closed today. I am not averaging well for my sightseeing checklist so far.

Bodega Guzmán is nearby. I stop here and order boquerones and a glass of a local wine Montilla-Moriles. The wine is more of a sherry. The place seems authentic. I am glad I stop here to escape the heat.

I can’t stay here all day and drink so I venture back out. I walk inside the city walls as well as along the outside. I notice the residences along the walls.

Eventually it seems like a good time for lunch. I end up at Taberna Rafaé based on a recommendation I viewed online. I order an traditional oxtail dish to get a feel of the regional cuisine. The stew has very good flavor and reminds of a type of boeuf bourguignonne.

There is more wandering after lunch, for whatever is actually open, which is not much. Instead I eye buildings, statues and gardens.

Another popular place to visit in town is the palace Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos but of course it is closed today as well, though I read I didn’t miss much here except maybe the gardens.

I walk by the Puente Romano de Córdoba the historic picturesque bridge in town. It is a 1st century Roman bridge.

Its been hot all day but its about now when it becomes face melting hot (100+ degrees farenheit). I find a shaded bench in a park and try to nap and cool down but the best I do is do some reading on my phone. I don’t last long here though because I get bored. I want to head back to Granada but the earlier train times are sold out or too expensive.

My visit to Cordoba would have been enhanced with viewing some of the patios the city is famous for. Unfortunately I miss the festival of patios by a month or two. There are still some patios that can be viewed for an admission price but there are limited hours for the touring and I have missed the window for this today. Today is really poorly planned. I do sneak a look at patios through gates inside a quiet residential area. The streets are empty. Only crazy tourists like me are outside in this heat.

When I return to the main tourist area all the day trippers are gone. At least I have a mostly solo visit to the beautiful Calleja de las Flores.

I’ve given up sightseeing and start looking for a place with air conditioning or something similar. I find a courtyard bar with shade and misting fans. It is not busy and I end up getting a free glass of wine. I am loving it here because I rarely get anything offered to me for free.

Eventually the courtyard bar completely clears out and so do I (I don’t want to be the only customer). My next destination is a market I remember this morning when I was walking from the train station. The major tourist areas are too quiet and hot for my taste and the market is at least closer to the train station. The market, Mercado Victoria, is beautiful indoors. Not many vendors are open because it is early but I get a very delicious Negroni cocktail while I relax in the air conditioning. It seems like others here have the same plan as I.

It is finally time for me to walk over to the train station to take my train back to Granada.

When I arrive back in Granada it is late so restaurants are closing along my walk back to the train station. Luckily the street that contains my hotel has some late night eateries. I stop at Restaurante Tetería Palmira which is a Syrian/Lebanese/Moroccan restaurant. I order the shish kabob platter and it hits the spot after a long hot day of sightseeing.

It is late but the streets are still alive nearby. I’ve had a long day so I call it a night.

Tomorrow I have a scheduled reservation for the Alhambra. I’m anticipating that will take up much of the day. Good night.