08 Dic Sarajevo, a journey to remember
by Josè Martino from Portugal
Sarajevo, market by Josè Martino
As we were in Dubrovnik, quite close to Bosnia, we decided to cross the border and venture on the road. Most people go to Mostar, we ‘risked’ going to Sarajevo.
The car’s GPS showed us one way, google maps another. When we arrived at the border – a dirt road with two gates and a guard, like a thriller movie – I questioned the police, to break the ice, which way to go (if the one on the GPS or the one on google maps) to which he answered “follow the one that passes through Mostar” and so we did.
Well, it’s about 280km to Sarajevo, on roads that sometimes we do not believe we’re going anywhere. Great landscapes, mountains, rivers, with some tunnels where water fell and there was no pavement, roads with 2 reasonable tracks and roads with an incredible pavement. A real adventure.
Road Mostar-Sarajevo by Josè Martino
We never felt insecure beyond what the discovery provides, but there is always some anxiety.
About 4 hours later (2 of which the GPS of the car didn’t know where we were) we arrived at the big entry avenue of Sarajevo that has more than 6Km with 4 or 5 lanes for each side, huge traffic and traffic lights from 100 to 100 meters. A mix between Middle East and Europe. A mix of buildings spiked with bullets and stands selling expensive cars.
We parked in what was said to be a “public park,” which was no more than a yard with dozens of cars. We are unaccustomed to a certain luxury because although the person in charge had lost our ticket, when we went to pick up the car he was extremely nice and believed in the entry time we told him.
Sarajevo, eternal flame (memorial to the military and civilian victims of the Second World War in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina) by Josè Martino
The environment is different, you feel the weight of the difficulties that they were through. It’s a simple but busy town, where prices are very low in everything – we had lunch for €4 per person in the center in a restaurant with enough quality -, marked by many mosques and some interesting architecture.
We stayed in the historic area, as a few hours later we would have to return to Dubrovnik and the trip was time-consuming. Even so, it showed us a lot of beggars in the streets, children mainly – on our way in the road we had seen several children selling honey on the roadside – and we realized that, sadly, Sarajevo is a few years delayed from its European neighbors.
We didn’t dare to enter any mosque for two main reasons: the high number of people standing outside the doors and by not having seen any women (not even covered as in other countries). In fact we entered Sacred Heart Cathedral and had to leave given the conservatism of the nun who was there (I must say they were 30 degrees, so we were dressed according to this heat).
The Sebilj (pseudo-Ottoman-style wooden fountain) by Josè Martino
We have been to Warsaw and visited its museums loaded with violent history, but the visit to this gallery took us for a few hours the desire to speak. We asked for audioguide (it is imperative) and we immersed ourselves in the photographic reports, audio and video – some in the first person – of a heinous carnage and inhumanity.
Sarajevo, Latin Bridge where Franz Ferdinand was shot and lead to the beginning of the First World War by Josè Martino
The return trip was a torment, it took us over 6h. It was football match day, and as in Brussels, we met with the friendly and effusive Bosnian fans who are very attached to their national team who passed by us on the road with huge flags.
We travel the first 15Km of the future highway between Sarajevo and Mostar and got back in the main road, but
in my memory will always be the 2 hours we were stucked on the there because one of the tunnels was under maintenance and only allowed one lane at a time, and privileged people that were going to Sarajevo because of the game.
Sarajevo, meeting of cultures sign by Josè Martino
We still crossed Mostar by car, which seemed much more European and more similar to what we are accustomed having contact with.
We do not regret the decision we made, being there was an opportunity to know a very different reality and that is what enriches us as a person.
Travel, a lot.