My travels are usually well ahead of my writing, which lags behind a queue of new trips and past stories to be told. Hence why I’m so late in writing about the 2012 Best City To Visit Travel Tournament winner, Sarajevo. A contest won by an incredibly energetic and enthusiastic group of Balkan supporters who reflect how connected a community the inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital form.
There is no correlation between my tardiness and how I felt about Sarajevo, where I was welcomed by many I met – not as a visiting traveler – but rather someone returning to a home he didn’t know he had. Tourism to Sarajevo and the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina has increased by 13% [PDF] since 2010, yet it still retains many advantages for independent and budget travelers.
War Torn No Longer
The streets of Sarajevo still bear the marks of the 1992-1995 Bosnian War, literally, as you can see in the picture to the right, where residents have painted the cracks left by grenade explosions red. There were many more of these memorials in asphalt throughout the Sarajevo, which endured the longest siege of a capital city since World War II: from April 5, 1992 until February 29, 1996. Like the pavement however, the city hasn’t forgotten the war that changed Sarajevo’s demographics drastically, reducing ethnic diversity according to some estimates by 30%.
The Bosnian War created a lost generation of children in Sarajevo, who missed an opportunity for education, as sniper fire and regular bombardment of the city made any formal schooling impossible. One of the few ways food, medical supplies, and weapons were smuggled into the city during the siege was through the Sarajevo Tunnel. Constructed by the Bosnian Army covertly, it connected Sarajevo to just outside the city’s airport, controlled by the United Nations. You can get a fascinating look inside the tunnel, parts of which are still intact, on the HYH City Tour. In addition to the Sarajevo Tunnel, my guide took us to the abandoned bobsled tube from the 1984 Olympics and sniper alley – his personal stories from living through the siege alone were worth the 21 Euro price.
The divisions of the war have brought modern Sarajevo together today as it can confidently concentrate on the future – a hint of which you can see in its hip present. Students from the over 5 universities in Sarajevo hang out in sleek cafes like Delikatesna Radnja after classes and you’ll find no shortage of bars along the blocks of the Miljacka River on weekend nights.
Advantages Of Independence For Independent Travelers
With the Bosnian War in the rear view mirror (it’s completely safe in case you were wondering), travelers who head to Sarajevo have much to look forward to. First of all, it’s inexpensive. Businessweek ranks it the 19th cheapest city for expensive living, whether you’re looking for a fancy two-bedroom apartment for $699 a month, or staying a few nights in a private room for 20 Euro a day at the comfortable Hostel City Center.
- All of the city’s main sights are easily walkable and you can hike from hills of the Alifakovac neighborhood’s centuries-old cemetery, walk across the Eiffel Bridge (a smaller version of Gustave’s style on the Douro), and stand at the spot where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated all in the same afternoon.
In the evening recuperate lost calories with the pastry burek or have a complete meal of cevapi (kebab) with duvec (vegetable stew) at an affordable spot like Sedef. Afterwards at the warmly lit Bascarsija Square drink from the Sebilj Fountain, which is said to ensure one’s return to Sarajevo – although in my opinion a visit to the city has the same effect.
Warmest Welcome I Can Remember
The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament really took off in Sarajevo last year and everyone I came across seemed to have voted or heard about it. So many Bosnians took time out of their day to come meet me as I was traveling around the city to have a drink or just say hi – thanking me for highlighting the city through the contest. But to be honest, it’s all of the Bosnians who deserve my thanks for welcoming me to a city I could easily see myself living in, and treating me like I have been, for a lifetime.
Hello and welcome to a special live chat marking the one year anniversary of my ebook, The Ultimate Tech Guide For Travelers Version 2.0. An ebook that comes with 6 months of personal tech support from yours truly covering anything mentioned in the book. I’ve gotten on Skype calls to walk fellow travelers through setting up automated online backup systems, discussed the right smartphone for others, and even helped one person recover their stolen laptop. Today, I’m extending my tech support offer to all of you – for the next two hours – answers to any and all tech or blogging questions you may have. No limits, ask away in the comments below and between 3pm-5pm US EST I’ll give you the best live support I can.
The live chat is now closed – thanks everyone for the questions and conversation!
Additionally, I’ll be giving away away two free licenses to Hotspot Shield Elite, worth $29.95, and offering a special price of $10 for The Ultimate Tech Guide For Travelers Version 2.0, today only. All of that, plus the specific answers to your blogging and tech questions in the comments below, ask away!
As you’re reading this, I’m somewhere in the desert at a location I can’t reveal just yet for a number of reasons; and have been offline for the past few days. Despite my best efforts to stay online, it’s not always possible or practical to do so. Running around getting visas, visiting remote regions of the world, and participating in other projects like the New Nomads web series, is work that often takes me away from focusing on writing here. (Work is work, even when you’re fortunate enough to have an amazing job you love.) That got me thinking, prior to visiting this, the 60th+ nation in my goal to travel to every country in the world, that I should allocate some offline work time, as I’m doing now.
Annually, I’ll take a break from 10 posts (approximately 5 weeks a year) for trips that will get me far from cities into the wireless wilderness plus give me some extra time to catch up on editing my travel photos, for example. (I’m still just on Sydney, Australia where I was last October.) …and keep my global travel map, with many of the places I’ve eaten, slept, and visited throughout the past 5 years, up to date.
Taking efficient offline time will ironically help me get caught up online and bring you new types of content in addition to words and pictures. I’ll also be able to take even more various programming and computer security related projects – at my core, I’m still a hacker. Normally this offline time won’t mean my foXnoMad Facebook Fan Page and Twitter feed will go quiet. However for this trip, they’ll go silent, and I’ll explain more when I return online April 30th.
- I look forward to posting about my latest adventure after arriving in my favorite city for the start of the I Love Istanbul Tour I’m organizing with friend, and blogger Wandering Earl.
For those of you who will be in Istanbul on April 30th, I would love to meet with you and have a chat over a beer or cup of tea. I’m holding a meetup from 18:30-20:00 at Urban on April 30th and you’re invited. Please RSVP on this Facebook Event Page if you can or are thinking about attending.
Because I don’t get to say it enough, thank you for your continued support, encouragement, and for taking the time out of your busy schedules to read my words. I appreciate that it is because of you many of the opportunities in my life have been made possible.
Thank you again and I look forward to returning at the end of the month.
Airplanes are the magic machines that allow us to travel around the world and pilots the magicians who fly them. Despite taking over 40 flights a year, I know little details about how those experts keep 400,000 kilos of aluminum (and all of us passengers) in the sky and landed safely at out destinations. A fear of control can foster many of our flying anxieties, so today you can ask my live chat guest what it’s really like to fly, and the lifestyle of an international airline pilot.
Alejandro flew for a US based airline for 4 years before being offered to fly the Boeing 747 internationally for Eva Airways. Now based in Taiwan, he jets around the world delivering passengers and cargo to various destinations. Flying is his passion, but being a pilot isn’t as glamorous as it seems.
The chat is open today, April 16th from 3:00pm-4:00pm US EST (7pm-8pm GMT; 12pm-1pm Los Angeles). Scroll down or click here to join the chat below!
In addition to jet-setting, Alejandro and his wife Zeina recently launched the Habby Travels, a trip organization service. You may be curious whether or not planes come close to crashing without our knowledge (am I the only one who wonders that?), how “close” pilots and stewardesses really are, or want to get into piloting yourself. Alejandro is all yours to discuss the life and job of a pilot for the next hour in the comments.