My first break of the year saw me headed into the former Yugoslavia for a few days in Sarajevo, a country that I'm not aware any of my friends had been to, which is now a good reason to go somewhere. I enjoyed last year's trip to Macedonia and Kosovo and wanted to do more of the same, this ticked all the boxes.
The outbound journey was fine, with no direct flights meaning I had to transfer briefly in Munich. I'd heard that at this time of year the flight reliability in and out of Sarajevo isn't the best and flights do sometimes get cancelled. Not today though, as I landed there was a heavy sea of fog in the area but not enough to stop the plane landing.
There are several ways of getting from the airport to the hotel. The taxi, with stories of them overcharging tourists, a short walk to a local bus, and an hour walk on foot. A fourth, new option, and the one I went for was a new bus that runs between the airport and the city centre. Perfect! Just make sure you have the right change (5 marks for a one-way trip). I didn't have the change after the cash machine in the airport gave me a single large note, but quick purchase from the little shop in the airport (which is tiny btw) and an apology in not having any smaller change, gave me the money I needed.
The bus passed my hotel but I chose to take it all the way into the old town in the east of the city and then walk the 4K back to get a feel for it. I was travelling very light so had no suitcase to drag along.
The river that runs through the city is the Miljacka and has countless bridges to cross.
This is the National Library, a stunning building but one that like most of the city took a hit during the troubles, in this case seeing a large number of books being burnt by the invading Serb forces.
A rather cool bridge with an inversion. Spiderman's favourite bridge when he visits.
The pavilion building in the centre of Atmejdan park.
A rather contemporary looking hangout with the first of the decent murals. A lot of the city suffers from poor tagging.
Just some more buildings alongside the river, some more stunning than others.
I was liking the quality of the good pieces I passed along the way. Sometimes I'd leave the main river road and explore the side streets when pieces caught my eye. You have to keep them eyes open!
A rather stark looking poster and given I could only understand one word on it I'd guess it's advising the use of sun cream.
Like a lot of countries in this part of the world there's a mixture of cultures with mosques slightly outnumbering the churches, but both looked impressive.
Whilst there are pockets of the city still looking like a war zone, the city is getting some investment like this mall and futuristic-looking hotel complex.
These pieces were all in some abandoned barracks complex that I think is affiliated to the university somehow. A good chance to stumble through decrepit buildings looking for the art.
This is my hotel, the Bristol Novotel Hotel, which I recommend a lot.
I'm glad I'm not staying across the street.
Bum was the most prevalent tag I came across today. I had read that Euros were accepted in the country but I had no success outside of the main touristy bits. I had to pop into a bank and change some of my Euros and with a rate of 2 marks to the Euro, the exchange rate is currently good.
So day 1 was quickly over and I spent the evening grabbing a quick dinner and chilling in the hotel.