Sarajevo’s facade is marked with the scars of a complex and troubled past. It wears its blemishes like a handsome man wears a scar – pausing to recall its presence only when a curious stranger’s gaze lingers just a second too long. Like the man, this city’s face suggests suffering and pain, the depths of which cannot be understood by those blessed with porcelain perfection. But scars fade; they become part of a face we love until they are no more important than the eyes or the nose. Sarajevo has soldiered on from troubled times to become a handsome city, a city that intrigues newcomers as it wraps its subtle spell around their soul. Here is a place that, despite all the odds, offers spirit, fight and humour at every turn. But more importantly, its hidden depths and untold secrets give it more than just a hint of the exotic.
Visitors can be forgiven for asking “but what is there to do in Sarajevo?” After all, Bosnia is a place that has been largely forgotten by the media since it no longer provides shocking photographs for the rest of the world to shake their heads over as they sip their morning coffee. To that question I respectfully suggest the following answer – nothing! Sarajevo is not a city to visit with a checklist. You can try, but I guarantee it won’t last very long. You’ll soon find yourself drawn to Baščaršija (the Old Town) for a coffee, or back to that little place with the cakes straight from a celestial oven. Before you know it, three hours have passed and oh dear that gallery you wanted to visit has now closed for the day.
Still not convinced? Imagine this. Leaving your hotel, you stroll through the cobbled streets of the Baščaršija bazaar, listening to the tap tap tap of the metal workers creating intricate ornaments in their workshops. You pass a beautifully ornate Mosque on your left and a regal Church on your right. You stop to admire a piece of hand-crafted jewellery, drawn in by it’s distinctively Turkish aura, and realise that you can buy it because it’s a steal. You stop for a Bosnian coffee, feeling very exotic pouring the thick black liquid from a golden jug and nibbling on your Turkish delight. You sit for a while on your velvet covered throne watching the world go by, before strolling the ten steps to your new favourite bar. The muslin draped couches and decorative cushions beckon to you and you decide to indulge yourself and order large beers that sit comfortably within even the smallest budget. Afterwards you can decide – a quiet bar with friendly locals happy to while away an hour in your company or a popular club where the waiters serve customers according to some secret ritual that you haven’t been let in on. When you’ve had enough you stroll back through the same cobbled streets to your hotel, perhaps pausing at a fountain or stopping to admire the seductive window display of a shop you could swear wasn’t there yesterday.
Maybe you won’t bother with that gallery tomorrow either….