Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Wed 27 Jul 2016. Konjic to Sarajevo

Wed 27 Jul 2016. Konjic to Sarajevo
Very warm start to the day, old man emptying out campsite pool completely and re-filling directly from lake with generator. Followed river, climbing mountains; noticeably cooler 19˚ (yippee, no matter how brief a respite!) Stalls selling furry animal hides and rugs. Loose-limbed long-bodied sheep with over-long tails.

Brand new road, (and tolls!) 6km tunnels through pine forest - Garmin not recognising. 
Dubious when first campsite we picked in Sarajevo had boggy ground, but we said “sold!” when we spotted another expedition vehicle. Although on their way out of the city's Camp Oaza, Phillipa (Portuguese) and Jonathon (from Luxembourg) chatted with us whilst we inspected one another's "homes".  Their vehicle and website is called "a family detour" where they post photos and comments squeezed in around managing 18mth old Arnold and 2.5yr old Alice. A well-travelled young couple already, Jonathon worked for the UN. Philippa said her parents had passed away, her mother and grandmother dying from Alzheimer's; she was making the most of her life with her children now. Currently they are looking for like-minded travellers to share the cost of a guide across China. 

Sarajevo, a city of over half a million people: "over the past 100 years, Sarajevo has found itself a member of six different countries, witnessed the Sarajevo Assassination, the first and second World Wars, and the longest running siege of any city in modern history..." A unique cultural mix. Places of worship coexist, often side by side: Orthodox, Catholic, Jewish and Muslim (churches, synagogues and mosques). On our new friends' advice, took a taxi in to the Old Town, glad once we saw the state of the ancient rusty trams, the recommended form of public transport.

Our taxi dropped us off at Bascarsija, the old bazaar and historical centre of the city. Chose a restaurant overlooking Pigeon Square and a view of the Sebilj, the ornate 1891 drinking fountain. Enjoyed Cevapi, a Bosnian lunch of meat rolls in a pastry case, with raw onion and a soft cheese ball, before taking to the streets. 
Cevapi - good! different!
No thanks rusty trams...

Sebilj, ornate 1891 drinking fountain
Nicknamed Pigeon Square

On the north side of the River Miljacka, strolled the old bazaar, a mercantile and craftsman centre (or "shops, shops, shops", as BoyRob called it...) 

Would Marina like this for her teapot collection?

Place where East and West meet 


Cathedral of Jesus' Sacred Heart, with its statue of Pope John Paul just outside. 

Crossed the Latin Bridge, site of Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his pregnant wife the Duchess Sophie, the incident which initiated WWI. Entered the Museum of Sarajevo 1878-1918, the Austro-Hungarian period; the Museum annexe is dedicated to the assassination.

Simultaneously beautiful and deadly
Pockmarked with bullet holes

Drank delicious cold water from fountain outside Gazi Husrev Beg's mosque before entering - it was the first mosque we'd seen which openly encouraged tourists. The complex included an Islamic high school (Medresa), library, public kitchen, Bezistan, covered arcade, and water reticulation system. We read it had been bequeathed to the city by the Ottoman ruler of Bosnia.

Mosque hit by artillery and mortar 100+ times

Spent a couple of hours in a high-quality photo exhibition of Srebrenica, looking at graphic photos, posters designed for shock or irony, video clips, interviews, and short films about the battles, the massacres, the losses and the memories. The “walls of the missing” put a number to the pain of the survivors.

Interesting chat with our taxi driver home, he said that modern Sarajevo lived in peaceful coexistence; that the Olympic Games raised the economy but now the infrastructure sat unused; and that young men would go to war instantly if they were threatened again. Employment was high, wages low, the standard of living well below the tourists arriving daily, but the cities were doing much better than rural towns with their high unemployment, their own agriculture critical to their survival. He recommended we stop tomorrow to see the pyramids of Visiko, which we'd not heard of before.

Stopped for a drink in restaurant on site at campground, and readily turned it into dinner as the lightning and thunder turned into rain. Veal medallions and home-made chicken, cheese and mushroom pie. Bosnia is turning out to be good value for money, compared to its greedy coastal cousins. Couldn't sit outside with breeze blowing rain in under annexe; bed a much cosier option. Fresh from the short film on the shelling and sniper alley, GirlRob confessed to being apprehensive at what sounded like gunfire in the evening, but which she hoped was fireworks. 

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