Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sarajevo: a tale of two cities

We were really excited about going to Sarajevo!  Everyone said we would love it, that the people are really nice, and that it's a beautiful city.  They were right! Probably some of the nicest people you can meet- they would come up to help you, and NOT expect something in return!.  The city is beautiful- nestled in a valley, it is clean and well-maintained.  The old town is really cute.  Great food! Pastries to die for.  Delicious Turkish coffee, so we were turbo-charged every day:-).  There are catholic and orthodox churches and mosques all over, reflecting the religious make-up of the area.  All this, and so very affordable!

But then there was the war.  We had talked with people in other countries about it, so it was not surprise.  But time has a way of making you forget, and forget the siege of Sarajevo, we did.  But the city does not let you forget.  Everything is geared towards teaching you about the war and the siege;  even the city walking tour, museums, and most tourist sights.

Thousands died.  Children were targeted.  Family, friends, and neighbors turned on one another.  We have never seen so many cemeteries before, and they were all huge.  I am actually not sure if I would recommend seeing this city.  But in the end, I am glad I did.  

It did make me realize one thing: I do not miss the constant political crap from the Republicans and Democrats at home- their constant sniping, their lack of support for the American people, their intractable train of thought that is geared only for the party and not the country.  And the way so many Americans just ally themselves with their party, no matter what.  One thing I learned here- it was the politicians who fanned all the flames that led to the violent break-up.  If their political voice had been for peace, understanding, and support, the break-up of Yugoslavia would have been quite different.  It is a lesson every nation should learn- even the US.  Sadly, I do not see the lesson being learned.  It is something all people should demand of our leaders...but we aren't.

 Rich in the main square with the pigeons!
 Dogs are everywhere!  Most cities have stray cats.  Sarajevo has stray dogs- and there are lots of them!  Funny though- they don't bark and they are not aggressive.  Late one night we saw people come out and feed them!
 Another St. George sighting in te Cathedral!
The city has memorials at many of the locations that shells struck and killed people.  The scars are filled with a red resin called Sarajevo Roses (

 The city has a museum for the Srebernica genocide (, which brought tears to my eyes after about 15 minutes.  

 The Tunnel of Hope (, was an 850 meter tunnel under the airport that the people used to smuggle food and weapons and medicine into the city.  It was blockaded and shelled, with snipers in many of the larger buildings, shooting at people as they made their way across the city (  Here is Rich in the tunnel (only 25 meters is open for the museum.  It is less than 6 feet, so everyone had to lean over.  There were tracks in it for trolleys, but the guide said most things were carried on backs.

 But, the city has awesome sunsets....
 Beautifully lit bridges and buildings....
 a comfortable main square.....
and awesome pastries!

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