Long day getting to Sarajevo

Trip Start Jun 07, 2009
Trip End Sep 06, 2009

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Where I stayed
Bosnian Nana's House

Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina  ,
Thursday, July 30, 2009

We woke up just before 6am so that we could catch a local bus to the Bus Station in time to make the 8am bus to Sarajevo. I'd only gotten to sleep after 12.30am so was pretty exhausted. We headed up the hill to the bus stop just after 6.30am and waited. The bus finally arrived just before 7am and drove for one stop and then sat there for the next 20 minutes while the bus driver got off and had a few smokes and a chin wag with some other guys he knew that happened to be hanging out at the bus stop. For what we'd timed to be a six minute journey, it actually took close to 30 minutes by the time we'd made it to the Bus Station.

Sam and I were getting a little impatient but that could have just been tiredness and grumpiness. The girl in tourist info had told us to be at the Bus Station one hour beforehand. I didn't entirely think it was necessary but as it turned out, was totally impossible anyway when the bus system only got up and running at 6.30am and then was due for an extended smoke break half an hour into his shift!

We bought our tickets, loaded our bags and got on the bus hoping and praying for a seat to ourselves for the seven hour journey. By 7.55am the bus was nearly full. Sam still had a seat to herself and I'd slightly reluctantly (but also a little bit sneakily) given up the seat next to me to a pretty cute guy who I'd been watching say goodbye to his friends. He was preferable option over the middle aged guy who'd got on holding a can of beer against his elbow which he then proceeded to drink at, oh, 7.45am. On the following stops we had, he kept buying cans of beer, no longer continuing with the charade of the ice pack. The journey began, cute boy offered me a biscuit and we retraced the route we'd taken when we'd been to Mostar a couple days beforehand - including all three border crossings.

Cute boy turned out to be a pretty annoying person to sit next to! He crashed out virtually right away and kept falling into me as he lulled around or would just stretch out, taking up way too much of the already confined space we had to share on the two seats. At one stop, an old lady got on and ended up sitting next to Sam...freedom and space over for her! The bus had two 15 minutes stops along the way, which I had to shake cute boy awake for so that he'd let me out. Each time, he'd simply move his legs to the side so I had to squeeze past. Foolishly, I didn't buy any food at the first stop where there was a supermarket. I kind of figured a) I wasn't that hungry yet and b) surely there'd have to be another slightly longer stop again somewhere along the way where I could get something.

At that second stop there was only a restaurant which had three huge spits with four lambs per spit being turned by water that was flowing in wheels. First priority was toilet stop though and we waited for what seemed like forever for the three ladies in front of us to use the toilet. Sam then managed to negotiate a deal with a waitress at the restaurant where we could buy a lamb sandwich and be able to use kuna rather than marks, now that we were in Bosnia. We were excited about getting some food and waited, and waited for it to be prepared. Our time was up and Sam went out to the bus to hold them up while I kept waiting for our sandwiches. After a couple minutes, Sam came running in and told me they weren't going to wait any longer and we had to get on the bus. We ran out - minus sandwiches and feeling very guilty as we couldn't see and didn't have time to tell the waitress that we had to go.

As we set off again, the sun was beating into the window and it was getting ridiculously hot on the bus. Didn't help that not-so-cute-anymore-just-annoying boy was taking up way too much space and almost leaning against me, radiating even more heat. Not the most comfortable bus journey I've ever been on but did make me remember the nightmare one I'd had in Nepal years ago which made this one seem like a picnic.

The scenery was pretty amazing and I marveled at, considering how close all these countries are, how different they look. The mountains were so mush greener and you could actually imagine bears and wolves roaming around in amongst them. As with Mostar, when we started getting closer to Sarajevo, you were able to see the effects of the recent war. Sarajevo was basically pummeled from 1992-1995 and it was really confronting and moving to see the destruction of this in the buildings as you came into the town. Many were partially destroyed, a lot were just riddled with bullet holes. It was sad to see that there would have been a lot of really old and beautiful buildings around that were now just crumbling shells. The mountain slopes surrounding Sarajevo's town are really beautiful with houses creeping up the hills but you can also envisage why it was so easy for snipers to hide in amongst the hills and attack unknowingly from above.

When we arrived at the bus station there wasn't really anywhere to go or anyone to ask for help about finding accommodation. As we walked towards where we thought the tram to get into the old town was, we stumbled across a post office. Sam finally got to post home some crap she'd been lugging around for ages and I had a chance to suss out the Lonely Planet guide to find out exactly what we should do and where we should go. We'd been hoping for some people to be at the station to offer us accommodation but they were nowhere to be seen. I worked out that the train station was just next door and there should be a "really helpful" tourist info place there. We headed in and saw a sign saying they'd be back in 10 minutes. We went to the train info to find out when the train left for Budapest the following day. Unfortunately the night train no longer existed and the only one was at 7.14am. We went back to Tourist Info and sat down where two locals were sitting, smoking. Wondering if they were in fact the "helpful" tourist info staff, we tried to make it look as if we needed some assistance. These two other Aussie's that had been on the bus with us came over and told us that they'd been waiting for 30 minutes and it still hadn't opened. We all looked at the two guys that were just sitting there chatting outside the closed office and they just stared back at us. We grabbed one of the available maps that told us what tram to catch to get into the town office and together headed there.

As we rattled along in the old tram, we saw more bullet riddled buildings and finally made it into the old town. The town Tourist Info lady was extremely helpful and friendly and booked us a room for the next two nights. We'd missed the tour we wanted to do here so decided it was worth staying an extra night to be able to do that. The man that helped out at the office piled us into his car and drove us to our Bosnian Nana's house which was very much like you were staying at your Grandma's house in her spare room. She didn't speak any English and we kept trying to tell that was all we could speak. She would keep spilling out these long sentences to us that we would just smile at apologetically to and shake our heads saying "no understand".

We headed into the old town for an early dinner after not really eating anything all day and came home for a rest before heading out later once the hot sun had gone down a bit. We were both woken by the call to prayer and disorientated and confused, looked at the time. It was just after 10pm and we'd accidentally fallen asleep for hours. We decided to just stay in and do our sightseeing tomorrow after the tour, slightly reluctantly considering the fact we'd been told it was going to be 40 degrees. We'd both noticed some tiny beatle like bugs crawling around in Sam's bed and I killed one crawling on the wall near my bed. It left a big blood spot on the wall and considered that they may be bed bugs but then thought nothing of it. We did think that it was kind of strange that there was a sugar like substance on the base matress at the head of Sam's bed. We were a little grossed out but went to sleep regardless.
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