Travel Blog: Sarajevo Day 2

In an effort to catch up on where I am and what I’ve been doing I’ve decided that I’ll post the second day of Sarajevo right away.

Day 2 – It was sightseeing day. So after a quick morning of pumping out a little work for some clients I struck out on my own. I wandered up/down and all around the city center and a bit more. Then I went to the Sarajevo Tunnel.

The Sarajevo Tunnel was an 800 meter tunnel that ran beneath the airport during the four-year-long seige of the city by Serbian forces. It served as a way for Bosnians to escape the city and head into the free territory of Bosnia, the main and only communications channel to the outside world and a thorn in the Serbian military’s foot.  The airport was turned over to the UN during the seige so that humanitarian aid could be brought into the city as people were lacking the basic necessities of life including clean drinking water, food, electricity and more. It was a terrible time and the longest siege of any city in recent history. Much of the city was destroyed by tank, missiles and grenades. Snipers were very active during this time and fired at will. The city was all but surrounded for nearly four year.

How important was that tunnel? Considering that there was an international arms embargo which deprived the Bosnians of the means with which to break the siege of their capital, it was quite possibly one of the most important works during the war. It was started in January 1993 and completed in the middle of the year. It was a source of food, information and weapons. It was also a blinding beam of hope for the people of the city. It was a possible escape, a channel for information and more. According to Wikipedia:

…it is estimated that 20 million tons of food entered the city, and 1 million people passed in and out of it.

However did they survive? Well, firstly they outnumbered the Serb attackers. Secondly, they were protecting their home and a force, inferior in number, will fight to the last man and more ferociously when doing that.

Large numbers though an estimated 11,000 people were killed during the siege which, in terms of importance, is an even larger number. The population of the city, over the course of the siege, shrunk 36%.  It’s also estimated that more than 20,000 children in the city were directly shot by sniper fire…

Heading back into the city I stumbled into the city’s museum for the Austrio-Hungarian empire days. It was a tiny one room deal but very cool (see photo gallery). It even had the guns that were used to assassinate Sophie and Franz Ferdinand as well as some really interesting history, clothes and more. Not bad for a Euro (technically 2 Convertible Bosnian Marka).

Stepping out of the museum and back into the rain I was met by Mr. Simon Cole – Aussie – who was wandering by and happened to notice the hat. He and I then did some joint sightseeing including our accidental trip into the old town hall. Apparently we weren’t supposed to be in there. But the door was unlocked and there was no sign on it. We later found a sign (see gallery) which had been covered by scaffolding. I did manage to get some cool images and a great video of the city hall interior before we were ushered out by the policeman who I think was so shocked to find us there he simply said “no no no…you shouldn’t be here” to wit I replied in Czech “the door was open so we came in…” heh.

After that we decided we needed some food so we sought out the oldest aščinica in Sarajevo. On the doorstep we ran into Josje who was heading back to the hostel alone and when she ran into us stated that she was so glad to have some company. So the three of us sat down to eat.

Considering that we had no idea what to order they offered us a sort of sampler plate that included sarma (cabbage wrapped meat and rice), čevapi (stick-shaped meatballs) and more. It was a wonderful meal. It should be, there was a photo of His Royal Majesty Otto Von Habsburg on the wall…if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.

A little bumming around after that and it was time to head back to the hostel. There are a few hours there where nothing all that important happened except for being introduced to Aneta from Norway at the Hostel.

It was Emily’s Birthday. So I climbed into my pirate-y outfit (striped shirt from Hana and black pirate pants), slapped on my gray hat and off I went to meet Emily, Russell and the Scots (Iain and Mhairi) at the Pirate Pub (hence the pirate-y outfit). We commenced to drink and dance until pretty much dawn. See the photos. If you’ve got photos of us all having fun please feel free to email them to me (Mhairi, Russell,) for inclusion in the big ‘New travel Friends’ gallery I’d like to make.

During the festivities, I danced with some women…and Russell. I was trying to teach him and the others how to do some cool dance moves. Considering I was a little drunk, the lessons weren’t that good. However, they were more fun than a barrel full of monkeys who can’t dance.

Oh yeah, the gallery!


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