At long last we are settled again and able to develop a nice routine. We’ve spent the past month and a half since leaving Brasov bouncing all over Western and Central Europe – from Spain to London to Prague-Nuremberg-Vienna-Budapest-Prague with Chad’s folks then back into the Balkans for four nights in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and two nights in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
By the time we reached Mostar last week we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and had a wonderful time there (as we did at all the locations in between; I’ll catch up on those posts during our time here in Sarajevo). We’ve found a lot to like about Bosnia right away, especially the food, wine, and prices! The two-hour train ride from Mostar to here was really lovely. Our budget for our four weeks here in Sarajevo is tiny (less than $400 per week including our 1-bedroom apartment) but we’re still going to be able to enjoy a really high quality of life that we’ve already started experiencing.
Sarajevo is a really nice-sized city for us – though the population is under 300,000, being the capital gives it the amenities of a much larger city. We are already planning to attend the ballet, we hope the opera (if the dates in early November line up), possibly part of a jazz festival, and plan to go to the movies weekly. There is a wonderful arthouse cinema here called Kino Meeting Point. Saturday night we saw Joker there (both loved it) and got two tickets and two tubs of popcorn for about the cost of a single ticket at home ($9). Seriously.
Bosnia is sort of like a cross between Turkey and Romania, two places we love, and there is a lot of beauty here in Sarajevo: tree-lined streets, a lovely river bisecting the north and south of the city, ranges of small mountains (or large hills) all around the city, which is primarily in the valley. Chad has already adopted the river as his running location and we’ve also enjoyed a few walks along it in our first four days here. We’ve found a couple of nice parks, though they’re a bit farther from our neighborhood than we’d normally like. But the city has all sorts of cute cafes, restaurants, and beer gardens that we hope to enjoy.
We’ve walked around the area with old Olympic buildings (it was here in 1984) and hope to catch a soccer match in the stadium where they held the opening ceremony. We plan to visit the old town later today. It is hard to believe there was a horrible war and genocide here just 25 years ago, but there is evidence of it all around, especially the white gravestones all around the city and evidence of shelling and shots on many of the buildings. We plan to visit the national museum while we’re here, where I’m sure we’ll learn much more about that dark time.
We are very satisfied with our apartment here, booked on Airbnb as usual. It is basically four rooms – bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and living room, but a nice size and great windows to make it feel really airy. It is on the 5th floor so our views are lovely. The kitchen is especially workable. The only downside is there’s no elevator, so we’re trying to be strategically about batching errands and trips out of the house, knowing they’ll always end in walking up six flights of stairs (because Europe numbers their floors with 0 as the ground floor instead of 1). We’re also not getting the best Internet upload speed here, but so far that hasn’t caused too many problems. We also have an ok grocery store on our corner, which is very convenient, and a much better a 10-minute walk away at the mall (we’ve found the best grocery stores in Europe to be in the basements of malls; Asia frequently too).
Overall, we can both tell that we’re going to be very happy here in Sarajevo, and we’ve already talked about making a Balkan return next summer to visit Bulgaria and Serbia, which we’ll miss this time around.