Last year, I planned a trip to Bosnia and Montenegro. As usual, I just looked on the map, booked the tickets and counted the days till then, with nothing much prepared really. When weeks went on, I started to look for accommodation and activities, as a single traveler. Luckily, I haven’t confirmed any booking. At departure, we were two and half.
Of course, the beginning of the trip was so exhausted and so unbelievable. Of course, I learnt about my pregnancy two days before. After a very long journey: subway, train, flight, bus, I finally crashed for like 15 hours at our first hostel in Sarajevo, Harris Youth Hostel.
There we met bunch of digital nomads. Harris, the host, was very friendly and welcome us very nicely, with his assistant from Australia. Both are pretty partying people but respect calmness which was very pleasant. Harris shared with us his story from the war, while having a drink or two, a smoke or two, downstairs, in his hideout.
On the way to the city center, we met a lovely coffee place, with a host that we called Randalf. He has a lot of Bosnian coffee, homemade and teas to offer. The way he prepared them is a real show. He was always recommending us some places and some contacts for our travel plans, so helpful!
You can feel a lot of solidarity and positiveness around you. Actually, before to leave, I’ve read that tourists were mostly disappointed about the place because of their close minds. Once you don’t have expectation and just go with the flow, you discover so much of the Eastern-European/Arabic personalities, so rich to learn from.
For instance, three time a day and sometimes at night too, you can hear the Hassan from the mosque. There are several religions living together so not everybody cares about it, but everybody respects it. Local don’t care about the politician fights, they only want to leave in peace altogether, like it was during Yugoslavia.
With local recommendations, we decided to hike to Skakavac and see the waterfall. People say it is a 20 min walk. The car waited for us for more than 3 hours. We didn’t get lost, the way was very up and down and my breath was cutting short. We entered a deeper Islamist area, where women don’t say hi in the eyes to other women on the hiking trail, surrounded by boys, and where bears get prepared for hibernation.
We eventually made it, and got safely back to town.
The best way to navigate inside the city when you are two or more, is to bargain the taxi. Most of them will tell you a crazy price because you speak English. Well, get to know the proper cost and go with it. It happened that we waited like an hour before to find a decent driver. Also, everybody smokes in the Balkans, so once my driver does, and ask me for lot of money, I was letting him know I will definitely not get into his car. Price can slightly change if it is day or night, weekday or weekend. When you trip is planned, you can just ask your hostel for a transportation recommendation. Everyone knows someone who does the Bosnian version of Uber.
We enjoyed the market, their local food, falafel, kebab etc. We even managed to enjoy a very fancy and romantic restaurant, with a nice few on the city, called Kibe. You must book if you want to eat there. As it wasn’t planned, the waiter found us a small table in a corner, a bit on the way, but we were fine with that. The place offers huge dish of meat. You can take a look at the menu directly on an Ipad, which is very fancy for Bosnian. When we were there, it looked like the place was booked for rich Arabic people. They all wore very nice clothes on, and typical hats.
During our dinner, a small group of musicians came over to play guitar. It was our first proper date.
Another day, we went to Vrelo Bosne, a spring and national park. It is quite big and very nice to walk around. There is a small restaurant over there, that sells fish directly from the river, it was so tasty! You can easily get there with public transportation.
Everything was so cheap! Actually, it is so easy to calculate the change, 1 BAM equals 2 euros.
While we were mostly eating, our travel mates were mostly looking at the numerous museum about the war. It was only 20 years ago, people still remembers, streets too. They actually still feel wounded and you can see it.
It is even more visible outside of the capital. Our next stop was Mostar, another place where we had such a great time. I’ll talk about it more in a future blog post, stay connected!