Sarajevo... and Ferdinand's Bridge!
With only a few days left before the fall semester kicks-off in Montenegro, I knew it would be nice to get-away for the day. So... I said to myself, "Why not explore Bosnia?" Thus, my journey to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina began. Sarajevo is located northwest of Montenegro. The city was founded around 1461 by the Ottoman Empire. For those of you who are history buffs, Sarajevo played a significant role in triggering the start of World War I when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were assassinated in Sarajevo in the year 1914. You might also recall that Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympic games. Pretty cool! huh?
It was an early start. 6:30AM to be exact. Danielle, Isabelle, John, and I all met up at my apartment and took a taxi to City Hotel Podgorica to meet our bus. About a week ago, I stumbled across this excellent travel agency called "In-Travel." They offer great, low-cost trips to a variety of major cities located throughout the Balkan's. It took us five hours to go from Podgorica to Sarajevo. The ride did not seem to long though. Of course, our eyes were glued to the bus window the entire time.
Our trip began by waving goodbye to Podgorica and traveling north through Niksic (the town my faculty is located in) and onward towards Dormitor National Park and Piva Canyon. The drive was out-of-this-world. We passed tall, rugged mountains that cascaded down into what seemed like a never-ending canyon. It was just astonishing. The roads were filled with tunnels built into the sides of the river bed cliffs and rich, turquoise blue water flowed swiftly through the canyon.
The magnificent Piva Canyon in Montenegro!
In the center of the old city you will find 1,000's of pigeons waiting to be feed.
After we crossed Piva Canyon Bridge, we entered Bosnia. It did not take us long to cross through border/passport control. However, the road conditions changed drastically. The road from the border of Montenegro to Sarajevo was awful. It was literally a one-lane road, filled with sharp turns, falling rocks, uncooperative cows, and reckless Bosnian drivers in vehicles of all forms (i.e., motor bikes, tractor trailers, cars, etc.). Of course, it wasn't half as bad as the roads I experienced in The Gambia and Senegal, but somewhat close. The drive itself was beautiful, but with no guardrails and plummeting cliffs it made for a not so smooth ride.
A small glimpse at beautiful Sarajevo!
When we arrived in Sarajevo, we were greeted by a friendly tour guide. Our tour guide was quick to point out that Sarajevo is home to many different religious groups (i.e., Muslim, Orthodox Christians, and Catholics). We went though the four major city districts and our tour guide showed us many of the major political/government buildings, mosques, cathedrals, and synagogues. Sarajevo is a wonderful city, and it doesn't take long for one to see and feel the presence of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian time periods. Sadly, throughout the course of Eastern European and Balkan history, Sarajevo has experienced great attacks (i.e., fires, bombings, etc.) resulting in much destruction to the city. The most recent war, known as the Bosnian War, took place between 1992 to 1995. Despite these wars, citizens of Bosnia persevered and rebuilt the city time and time again after numerous attacks.
World War II Memorial in Sarajevo
For lunch we feasted on a big portion of famous Bosnian "Ćevapi." It was excellent. Ćevapi is dish of grilled minced meat with onions served inside flat bread.
Bosnian delicacy, Ćevapi.
I really encourage you to learn more about Sarajevo. It's a radiant city, rich in history, and I can't wait to go back and visit Bosnia again.