Sarajevo, Bosnia (part 1) August 2006
I went to Sarajevo in August 2006 to attend my friend Lada's Hospitality Club meeting, and then spent a few weeks traveling around the Western Balkans. Lada is Bosnian and lives in Paris; we first met at another HC event camping on a farm in Normandy in 2005 with four hundred HC members. It turned out she was my neighbor in the 18th Arrondisement in Paris, and from then on I hung out with Lada in Paris all the time. She goes back to Sarajevo every year to work for their film festival, and this year she decided to invite the Hospitality Club to spend a weekend in her city with her as a our tourguide. About twenty members made it, from Australia, Bosnia, Denmark, England, Estonia, France, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain, the US, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a couple others.
The various HC members found accommodations all over Sarajevo, but I was Lada's guest of honor those are her (probably somewhat facetious) words, not mine so I got to stay at her father's comfy apartment while he was away on business in London. This is his refrigerator.
This amazing rug was hanging over a bookshelf in Lada's father's apartment.
Our first stop with the whole big group during the HC meeting was the Bosnian History Museum. I didn't get any pictures inside, but there's a small botanical gardens in the courtyard, and there are a few ancient tombs and tombtones scattered around.
Another tomb in the courtyard of the Bosnian History Museum.
More tombs. These aren't real grave sites or anything; these stones were all relocated.
Haha. Don't do that. This reminds me, my mom has a funny story about her mom and one or two of her sisters visiting Monticello (this was probably in the 50s or something; let's picture beehive hairdos to make the story more hilarious) and surreptitiously stealing flower clippings from Jefferson's gardens to plant back home on the farm.
That's Lada's mom, second from left there, and she was visiting Sarajevo for maybe her first time since the war in the 90s. She speaks rudimentary French and a tiny bit of English (along with her native Bosnian and fluent Italian), and we mostly spoke caveman French with each other the whole time. The entire group of us went to this outdoor cafe and carpet market so Lada's mom could show us the correct procedure for preparing and drinking Bosnian coffee. There's more to it than you might think. She explained the process in Bosnian and then Lada, at the other end of the table, translated into English. Those other folks pictured are Estonian, Italian, French, and American. It's amazing to think that all twenty-something of us were there in Sarajevo just because Lada decided to invite us through a website we all use. Most of us had never met before, online or in real life.
Here's a look at the rest of the table from the other end. Lada (in red) is on the phone with her boyfriend, who was in Paris at the time and just about to leave for his thirty-hour non-stop(!) drive to Sarajevo. Oh yeah, and you can see all the little individual copper coffee sets our Bosnian coffee was served in.
The steps of the cathedral in Sarajevo's old town was the meeting place for any and all of the things that were going on with the group; even after the big group had separated, we quickly realized we could come back here basically any time at all and a few other people from the group would be waiting for other folks they'd made plans with, for sightseeing, eating/drinking, etc. Here Lada is laying out plans for the next event.
This is a shot from the steps of the cathedral outward into a street full of trendy cafes, with the mountains in the distance. Sarajevo is surrounded by mountains, and they make for amazing scenery no matter where you are in town.
Here's the whole cathedral. We used it as a meeting place about a dozen times, but I never found the time to actually go in!
The thing we were actually meeting up for this time was to hail a bunch of taxis to take us just outside the city to the Sarajevo Tunnel Museum...