Tuesday 24th June, 2014
The only really productive thing I do with my day is the walking tour. It starts with a history of the country and covers off all of the historical buildings in Sarajevo. We visited churches, a Caravanseraii and many other places but here are the things worth a mention:
- The eternal flame. This is a kind of memorial for those that were lost in WW2. The flame, obviously, never stops burning. The message behind it is recorded in blue, white and red. Blue for the sky, white for liberty and freedom and red for the blood lost.
- A marketplace, used for black market produce during the war. It was the site of the biggest massacre in Sarajevo, killing 60 people. Today locals are selling their produce around a preserved square metre of soil encased in glass from the deadly day. There is also a wall dedicated to those that died, with all of their names recorded on it.
- On the footpath every now and again we see a square meter with the outer edges tiled and blobs of some kind of red paint within. These mark the final resting place of a civilian during the war. Some squares are representative of more than one death.
- Many middle aged and elderly men standing around a giant chess board. Our young guide says they are there every day, no matter what the weather, even if there is a meter of snow on the ground.
- A big building in the heart of the the city that would be prime retail space but has not been touched since the war due to disputes about who owned portions of it. It is really just a facade now with no windows and no roof and trees growing through it.
- The corner where Franz Ferdinand (the Austrian duke that was to rule Bosnia) was assassinated by an upset Serb, the most tangible reason for the start of WW1, 100 years ago this year.
After the tour I entertain the thought of going to a museum or two, one of which had been highly recommended, but I kind of feel like I am all warred out. I have a pretty good understanding now of what went on and any other info might just mess up what I think I know. Plus, I’m an emotional being and I don’t know if my heart can withstand any more tales of heartache and suffering. I can’t very well wear dark sunglasses in a museum like I could on the walking tour. So instead I spend the rest of the day figuring out bus tickets, my next hostel, shopping (who would have thought? Found a great skirt and some cute shorts in one shop) and napping in the shady hammock at the hostel.
It is one of the Finnish guys’ (did the tour yesterday with me yesterday) birthdays today. I have found him a small chunk of cake and a carved up a tea light candle so it fits on top. I find a live rendition of a guy singing happy birthday in Finnish on YouTube, gather everyone I can find in the common room and get Ankus, the hostel owner, to cut the lights while the other Finnish guy brings him in. We feel weird not singing so Jani gets happy birthday sung to him in Finnish, English, Welsh, Serbian and Norwegian all at the same time followed by honey brandy shots all round courtesy of Ankus. Success.
Ankus, I get the impression, likes the scent of a party and had us making merry to songs like this and this, which I seem to remember actually quite enjoying at the time. Perhaps it was the honey brandy.
Me, the two Finns and the two Welsh girls (we found another one) celebrate a birthday dinner at the Sarajevo Brewery. I am intrigued by the “macaroni with sea fruits” and order that. What comes out is seafood pasta that is really quite nice. We are booted out when they close at midnight and me and the two Finns carry on to one more place for another drink before I call it a night and leave the other two at a third bar.