First Impressions of Sarajevo

I can’t believe we’re actually here! It always seems surreal at the beginning of a trip you’ve been planning for and excited about for months. Getting here was a little stressful. My flight to Munich landed over an hour late and I already had a short window between the flights so I ended up doing a mad airport dash to try to catch the Sarajevo flight and I made it just in time! My first impression of Sarajevo was a feeling of awe at the beauty of the city’s layout. All of the houses nestled in the hills surrounding the city are so picturesque. I love the location of our hotel, and I’m so excited to spend more time exploring this area. Yesterday afternoon and evening we did a walking tour of the neighborhood and ate dinner out on a patio. It’s all little winding cobblestone streets and alleyways lined with little shops, cafes, restaurants, and ice cream stores. We ate the most delicious dinner last night, these amazing cheese and spinach pies and then we got ice cream! The richness and taste of the ice cream reminded me so much of my time studying abroad in Rome, which is quite the high compliment as no one does gelato like the Italians. It’s also so cheap! 1 km (about 50 cents) for one scoop of ice cream- I have a feeling I will be eating quite a lot of that during my time here.

Today, our first full day in Sarajevo, also happens to be my 25th birthday! It is not a bad place to ring in 25 I have to say. First thing this morning some of us went for a walk and stopped by a little fruit stand. We bought an insane amount of delicious fresh cherries for 6 km, which is about $3. I think I could get used to the quality and quantity of fresh fruit available here! Today we went to see the tunnel, the bobsled, and a Jewish cemetery. The tunnel was carved out under the airport in 1993 and it was the only way in or out of the city during the war. It was surreal to see the tunnel in person after reading about it in The Cellist of Sarajevo. The characters in the book spoke about how the tunnel was managed and how you had to have a special pass to exit the city that way, which was near impossible to get because you had to have some special connections. After the tunnel we went to the bobsled that was created and used during the 1984 Olympics. We got to walk down the actual bobsled, which was a really cool experience! Being in Sarajevo has already so far been a unique blend of beautiful sights mixed with tragic reminders of the war. There were several parts of the bobsled run that had carved out holes for sniper use. The Jewish cemetery was a similar experience. Right across the street from the cemetery we stood in an area that was a sniper nest during the war. When I was reading about the snipers in the hills that surrounded Sarajevo before coming here, I was picturing them much further away. Standing in a sniper nest location in the hills today I was shocked at how close in they are to the city. You can see everything.

We are back at the hotel now resting up for a couple hours and then I think we are going to head out to the brewery for dinner and a drink to celebrate my birthday! I am so excited to be here and can’t wait to see what the next two weeks hold.

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