Sunday, September 23, 2007

Falling in Love with Sarajevo

I fell head over heels in love with Sarajevo. The city has one of the best vibes I've experienced - families were out with their kids eating ice cream and wandering the streets at 10pm and the bars were teeming with young people drinking cocktails and Sarajevsko beer. For the first time, the mosque's call to prayer didn't sound like a mournful echo (as I had experienced in Cairo and Dubai recently) but felt joyful and raditated through the city. The mosques were lit up at night, like in this photograph, and the old town (Bascarcija) sparkled.

I would assume that a good part of this vivaciousness felt in Sarajevo is due to the relief that the wars of the 1990s, which so devestated the city, are over. The conflict certainly did not snuff out the spirit of the Bosnians, who we learnt quickly are some wonderful, friendly, engaging folk. When we entered the Bascarcija, where we were staying, we found a maze of alleys and streets with sparse signage and soon found ourselves lost. It was teeming with rain and upon approaching a woman for help deciphering our map, she not only took us directly to where we wanted to go, but insisted on giving us her umbrella.

We spent hours wandering the streets of the Bascarcija, stopping for Bosnian coffee which is always served in a gorgeous copper pot, chatting with locals, and shopping for some copper ourselves in the copper alley where we watched men beat the copper into various objects. A geeky historical highlight was standing on the Latin Bridge where Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated, sparking World War I in the process. A reminder of the more recent war was found throughout the streets of the city in the form of the Sarajevo Rose. Where a mortar shell exploded, killing civilians, the indentations in the sidewalk or street left behind have been symbolically filled in with red paint.

1 comment:

dbm/gaa said...

You are there during Ramadan, so there is a party atmosphere after sundown! During Ramadan the calls to prayer don't seem mournful anywhere!

Enjoy, enjoy!