Took a bit of a break from writing to y’all as I had to do stuff that is expected of me. As well as this sweet ass blog (and all of you peeps I am so very fond of), I have duties that are to be done. Most recently; I travelled down to Sarajevo, BiH for a week of training exercises at the expense of SALTA SEE and EVS. More on those two organisations later. For now, let’s talk about the capital, it’s beauty, the people, old town and the valley.
First things first; last things last.
The bus to Sarajevo wasn’t necessarily a long journey, spanning at a measly five and half hours . But I can tell you that it was a tough one and my back is still in creases, in need of a good iron. The seats on that bus felt as though they were made of scrap metal for the backrest and collapsed truck tires for seats. No else seemed to feel the same discomfort as I did, or their stiff upper lip is regionally stronger than my English one. Commendable, I must say.
Got to love the cross country bus officials paradigm here. One guy drives and talks to his buddy, some guy sat by the front door clutching onto a cigarette, gasping for a smoke. Driver’s friend is responsible for collecting tickets off of passengers and keeping the driver happy/awake. My dad used to tell me a joke about my grandfather; ‘He died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers on his bus’’. So it nice to have a guy taking care of the guy who is navigating the narrow roads on the steep hills, defying that hilarious jokes punchline. (unfortunately the writer did not snap any shots of the dark chasms he travelled over. TFS apologizes for not providing a visual representation for this paragraph).
Upon arrival at Sarajevo; I had depleted my local phone’s credit, eating my tangerines, listened to my latest podcasts, and was wholly unsure of how to get to the hostel room I had booked the night before I travelled. The screenshots that I took of the map indicted it was maybe a twenty-five minute walk north west of the bus station. But at this point I was dog tired and in no mood for the cold weather walk. If I could do anything to save myself from that exertion, I’d do it. So I did what I was told not to do by my sending organisation, hosting organisation, friends and family again; I flagged down a ride in an unlicensed cab.
A lovely bald gentlemen, in a bright red tracksuit and thick black work boots, approached me in the bus station’s car park and asked me where I was going in the strongest accent known to man. He may have asked where I was going or if I was a rent boy, I wasn’t to know. Whilst I was speaking to him in broken local language, pointing at my map screenshot, a woman in her mid-sixties clambered into the passenger’s seat. A little after that (mine and the driver’s conversation went on for quite some time), a young man climbed onto one of the back seats.
After ten minutes of taking it in turns pointing at my phone and pulling words out of my minimal vocabulary, the bushy eyebrowed gent took my bag and placed them in the boot, and we were off. Little happened of note on the way to my hostel; bar a pack of stray dogs crossing the street at the zebra crossing and all of us passengers laughing at them in glee. “They think they are people, cute”, I think was the general tone of what was said.
After dropping off the old dear, and the young (same aged) guy at their destination’s, it was my turn. Hostel Tower, located at Hadžišabanovića 15, Sarajevo. Another place I chose to stay at through it’s interesting name. Upon seeing the name on a comparison site, my mind went to the likes of Nakatomi or that tower block from that was raided in The Raid (odd mind). After a brief climb up the streets of Sarajevo’s basin wall, I was dropped off outside a little courtyard right in the center of a long row of houses. Three men were waiting outside for me as I was the only guest in the entire place that night. Bless their hearts, they were worried I’d got lost or got in an unlicensed taxi and subsequently murdered. Like that would happen.
I do not think that I’ve ever been taken care of as much as I was at the Hostel Tower. These three men were like the sentient furniture from Beauty & the Beast. Couldn’t do enough for me. Even when I was a bit of a dickhead.
“Ok. Here is your room key, a form to fill out for a wake up call, your receipt… Would you like a good map, or a bad map?
“Depends. They both the same price?”
Thankfully my sarcastic tone was acknowledged as exhaustion and repaid with a ‘good’ map (which actually is a bloody good map in all fairness. It’s hung up on my wall now). The youngest of the three fellows led me up to my room. Cozy little double bedder underneath the stairs to the next floor, complete with; a fat television set with a remote, another sort of backup remote, sheets, pillow, and a Gideon’s bible (leaves them everywhere doesn’t he, that Gideon). The room meant almost nothing to me when I saw the view. That is what I really came to this part of the town to have. A balcony overlooking the city at rest. Where I could smoke my cigarettes in peace, trying to forget my hunger and exhaustion. To ready for the next day…