2019-09-2 Bosnia and Herzegowina

Sarajevo- a place of contemporary history

After the winding but also exhausting route we arrived in Sarajevo in the afternoon. Over the IOverländer App we had found a camping site above the city. Arrived there we could park with an unbelievable view over the city. After a little recovery time at the camp we wanted to explore the city.

Already while driving through in the afternoon we had noticed the contrast between modernity and the traces of war that can still be found in many places. It is not yet a whole generation ago that 25 years ago the city of Sarajevo was besieged by, mainly Serbian, troops and during the battles for supremacy in the city almost all important buildings were destroyed and thousands of civilians were killed. The disintegration of Yugoslavia has left its mark here. Hundreds of thousands of people were imprisoned in Sarajevo, the war had completely surprised the Bosnians who were striving for independence and so they were almost defenceless against the well-equipped Serbian/Croatian/Yugoslav troops. More than a million people fled Bosnia-Herzegovina, many of them to Germany, and not all of them have returned yet. Therefore, many people in the country, especially the older ones, speak German, while the younger ones speak English. Almost everywhere in the city one can still see inclusion holes and grenade impacts on the walls of houses. But also the construction, the modernity, the pride of the Bosnians can be seen in the cityscape. Newly built skyscrapers with chic glass fronts, polished shopping streets with stylish, mostly western brand shops as well as restored churches and mosques are proof that this city will not be destroyed by the horror that has happened here, but that people want to look ahead and connect to modernity.

Of course we wanted to have a closer look at such an interesting flair and this combination of history and upswing. So we threw ourselves into the afterlife. A few hundred meters away from the campsite there was a restaurant with a summer toboggan run. There we asked for a taxi and the friendly waiter ordered one for us immediately. The people here are incredibly helpful and open. In the city we headed for the bar “Zlatna Ribica” which means “to the goldfish” in German. What a cool shop! Such a unique specimen, a real jewel, the decoration a wild mix of everything, the prices finally moderate again and the atmosphere super good! Whoever visits Sarajevo should definitely stop by here! We went on to the Fehadija, the main shopping and promenade. At night locals and tourists cavort here, the flair is international. Muslims and Christians live side by side and mosques stand next to churches. The old town with its flat stone houses stands out for its bazaar-like character. Everywhere stalls are open until late at night and above all restaurants and snack bars. Sarajevo is definitely not a town to lose weight in! Don’t miss the culinary delights waiting around every corner and enjoy the city while exploring!

After a delicious meal in one of the many restaurants hidden in the side streets (after 10 pm, mind you. There is no such thing as a kitchen closing time here…) we headed for the Jazzbina, a Jazz/Blues club. The shop was crowded, everywhere we smoked and laughed and the live band heated up the mood even more. We had a really good evening in a cheerful, international, open and multicultural atmosphere, with a really mixed and interesting audience, in an up-and-coming city that is cosmopolitan and warm despite the horror that many of those who celebrated with us that night experienced in one way or another.

The cheerfully relaxed atmosphere we had enjoyed in the evening made me think later. Of course not all conflicts in this city and in this country are peaceful and by far not everything is peace, joy, pancakes. Often the districts or whole regions are still bordered by Serbian or Croatian or Bosnian majorities and even if the different groups at least don’t shoot at each other anymore, not all people in Bosnia-Herzegovina are green. But what touched me deeply was the openness and curiosity towards strangers. How can one regain so much trust after years, more or less, everyone has shot at everyone, help from outside, i.e. from NATO, only hesitantly taken place or failed to take place at all and poverty and misery were the order of the day…? How can one approach strangers so hospitably, forgive one’s own countrymen so much and so courageously look and step forward towards modernity and the EU? Of course a destroyed city has to be built up and a maltreated country has to find its way back to normality, but the way we have seen and experienced things here has really impressed me a lot. If you want to learn about forgiveness, you should visit this city!

The days in Sarajevo passed quickly. We made many trips and had interesting and funny experiences. A visit to the tunnel museum, which was the only way out of the occupation zone during the siege of 1990-1996, was very interesting and made the situation during the siege clear again. The tunnel, dug with spade and hoe, was one of the most important and most hopeful buildings for the Bosnians during the siege. You can also read about the “Roses of Sarajevo” that can be found all over the city here. But we also turned to the funny and beautiful things that you can experience here, for example we went on the summer toboggan run, enjoyed the real Bosnian coffee with the best view over the city and followed the life and hustle and bustle in the old town. Unfortunately the nights up there became really uncomfortably cold. Although we have a heating on board, but one could not sit in front of the car in the evening anymore and to crawl into the car every evening already at 7 o’clock becomes a bit narrow in the long run. So we decided to say goodbye to this great city and head south towards the better weather!

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

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