Welcome to this week’s That One Time In – the feature where fellow travelers share their stories of travel, adventure and everything in between. If you would like to take part please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org or @WhereinWorldKP – I would love to hear from you!
This week’s That One Time In features Ariana Kajic on her incredible journey in Bosnia. This is her story:
Many remember Sarajevo from what they saw on the news during the 90’s war. A city that was under siege for four years has suffered so much but has so much hope for the future. I was born in Trebinje, a few hours south of Sarajevo. I was lucky to escape the war, and visited Sarajevo for the first time in 2013. No feeling can describe the emotions that overwhelmed me the first time I walked down the old Bascarsija streets. The damage of the war can still be seen. Many buildings still haven’t had their makeover. Bullet holes in buildings and grenade marks were now painted with red paint to remember those killed by them.
But the city is slowly getting back on its feet, and is one of the worlds must-visit capital cities. It has an East-meets-West ambience, as it has both Ottoman and Austrian influences. It also is very diverse in cultures and religions. Within the same area, there are churches, mosques and synagogues. You can hear the Islamic Ezan call of prayer five times a day and the church bells ring soon after. Though it is the capital of Bosnia & Hercegovina, it doesn’t have that ” tourist busy feel” to it. You can always find a seat at a cafe, in fact there are so many of these around it would take you forever to try them all. Having grown up in Australia, I was lucky because our wages are good here, unlike in Bosnia. That is why everything is cheap there. Food, accommodation, souvenirs, travel, you name it! You can easily get by each day without spending too much.
On my recent trip back home, on a nice autumn day which also happened to be the first day of Eid, a Muslim holiday, my mum and I explored the city as tourists. Unfortunately, that is what we are in the country that we were born in.
Bosnians LOVE coffee. They can sit there all day chatting away and drinking their black coffees. Both locals and tourists all come to Baščaršija, Sarajevo’s old bazaar and the historical and cultural center of the city. It was built in the 15th century.
The Sebilj fountain is one of the symbols of Sarajevo and is a meeting spot for the locals. It is also known as the pigeon square by tourists as it is always surrounded by the birds and for a coin donation you can feed them.
According to a local legend you will quite soon return to Sarajevo, if you drink the water of the Sebilj Fountain.
Maybe that’s why I went 3 times in 14 months, and I’m not done yet. I may look like a tourist in my own country, flashing my camera around at everything, but I certainly feel more like a local each time I visit.
This town has so much history – some old, some new. My very first memory of this place was learning about it in Year 10 History class. You may know it too. It was the scene that started WW1. On 28th of June, 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a 18 year old Serbian, assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Right behind me in the photo above is the Latin Bridge (Latinska ćuprija). On the northern end of the bridge was the site of the assassination.
pic 5 (The newly restored Town Hall. The original one was built by the Austrio-Hungarian empire in the late 1800’s and burnt down to the ground during the war)
This city is changing, and so is the rest of Bosnia. Tourism is kicking up a storm here. Forget about what you saw on the news as a kid, make new and better memories. Next time you are visiting Europe, why not add Bosnia to the list. Trust me, it will keep you coming back, just like me.
Ariana was born in Trebinje, Bosnia and was just four years old when the war started. Her family was one of the lucky ones and managed to leave in time. They moved to Denmark where they stayed at a Red Cross Refugee Camp for two years before settling down in Sydney, Australia. My first trip back home since the war was in 2013, and since then she has visited three times on three separate trips (two of them in 2014). Going back home has forever changed Ariana, as it’s where her heart is truly whole. She started her blog as a way to break down the barriers of people’s views on Bosnia and show them the beauty it has to offer, and why it should be on everyone’s bucket list.
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