Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

On the drive to Sarajevo, you can really tell that you’re in the Balkans: it’s a lot of uphill with views like these:

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Sarajevo, like Mostar, still has a lot of visible contrast between pre-war and post-war buildings (although it probably tends more towards the latter, especially in the downtown). It has some remarkably new and beautiful shopping malls, like this one with a two-story kids’ play area.

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Makes me wanna be a kid again

And a nice food court too, where I feel like I can eat “local” fast food.

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As well as a study area! So you can go to the mall and feel like you’re being productive.

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But right in front of the mall is a tram line, where trams that are falling apart pass by (literally falling apart: while my friends were riding one it made a loud bang and just broke down on the street).

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Although most damaged buildings (downtown) have been repaired or replaced, one very visible mark from the war are the Sarajevo Roses, as the locals call them:

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Artillery blasts that have been filled in.

They turn a slight shade of red when wet; not sure if that’s intentional or not. And at least for the time being, it seems they are kept like this just because there aren’t many funds available to repair sidewalks and roads.

The main daily market also has a wall with the names of the 60-something people that died in the worst blast of the war, which struck the same market people shop at today.

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Of course Sarajevo is also known in military history as the “starting point” of World War I, with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

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Whereas cats dominate some cities, it’s the stray dogs that own the streets of Sarajevo. They’re all quite friendly, asleep or awake.

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I also want to give the city a shoutout for having solar benches with USB ports where you can plug in your smartphone to charge while you sit next to your friends antisocially and text.

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In the area of those benches you can find a big outdoor chess set, apparently donated by the Swiss. Although it’s still a two-player game, everyone participates by adding their opinion from the peanut gallery. We were told that the insults spoken are quite creative: for example, “I hope your next child is born like a Kinder Surprise toy but missing an instruction manual [so he can’t be assembled right]”.

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Sarajevo is kind of like Istanbul in two ways: they’re both east-meets-west cities, and both have Swedish consulates in prime locations.

Bosnia (that is, the Federation, not the country), being largely Muslim, but in a more Christian Europe, features mosques, churches, and synagogues. Recently, they’ve been pushing this and adding this logo for emphasis.

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Norway and Sweden, in a demonstration of neighborly love, share the doorway to their embassies.

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