Bosnia & Herzegovina, a country that brings back memories of my history and geography books is where we were spent 2 days just before Christmas day. Now that we’re back from that dreamy, cold, snowy place It feels surreal to have traveled to a country that I could barely pronounce let alone pin point on the world map a few days ago.
With Qatar Airways flying 5 times a week direct out of Doha, this was one of those destinations that hubby had ample of time at on his roster and so he was hell bent on us joining him on the trip. I however wasn’t completely up to the idea of traveling to 3 countries in the span of 20 days with a toddler while being 5 months pregnant. If you’ve read my previous blog post you’d know that we only just got back from a long end of year vacation to Krabi, Thailand followed by Mumbai,India. Anyway in the end as always the travel bug did get the better of me and in no time I had convinced myself that these last few months is the only time I could put myself through long hours of travel. It was more like now or never or rather go now or make peace with you deteriorating travel future for the next 18 years. I know I am being dramatic but in all honesty traveling with 2 under 2 and then 2 toddlers is going to be quite impossible in the next coming years.
So there I was then with fresh laundry in hand packing again to fly out to Christmas winter wonderland just 2 days after getting back from our long Asia trip.
On board Qatar Airways – 7 am departure flight to Sarajevo
About our trip to Sarajevo
We arrived in Sarajevo just sometime past noon and the first thing on our minds was food. We had heard so much about the meat this country is famous for and were sold on trying it out. We headed out to the Christmas market first thing as that was the real reason we had made the trip in the first place.
Sarajevo’s Coca Cola Christmas market is nothing like the rest of Europe’s markets with a few stalls, a small skating rink, a fun zone for kids and an indoor food and wine bar most tourist would be more than disappointed however not us. We had read about the scale of the market and had minimal expectations. We were happy to have any market from having no market in Qatar where we are based. And well after all Christmas is about sharing the small joys with the family right.
We got ourselves a hot glass of Mulled Wine and traditional plate of sausage and fries served with mustard that was yumm.. It was a great start to the trip and after spending an hour or so at the market we had refilled and stretched our tummies for the real feast.
Having a party for 2
A short walk away from the market and we found our selves in old town Sarajevo. The difference is stark and quite visible although there is a sign on the street to indicate it. Small shops connected with string lights, the smell of Ćevapi and kebab stalls and handmade handicrafts is what you should expect from its narrow alley ways. If you are a fan of sheesha there are plenty of quaint little hooka cafes in and around old town. We strolled down more in search of food and found ourselves at a lovely restaurant tucked away from the main street. It was in a patio that had carpets on sale and sadly I can’t remember the name for crying out loud.
Anyway one glance at the menu and we knew what we had to order – Ćevapi. (A grilled dish of minced meat, a type of skinless sausage) This local delicacy to me is by far one of the most distinct kebabs I’ve eaten and trust me I’ve tried a fare share of kebabs being Indian. That in combination with living in the middle east for the past 12 years of course has made me quite the kebab pro. I’ve been told by locals that a place called- Cevabdzinica Zeijo serves the best Ćevapi in town.
For a more fancy dining option with stunning views of the city head to – Kibe Mahala that serves some delicious spit roasted lamb. The restaurant thats located within a boutique hotel is maybe one of the city’s finest. Its cosy cabin interiors are stunning that made me wish I could have moved in and lived at the restaurant. Our total damage for dinner for 2 persons was 35 Euros. (Reservation required)
The local cuisine also offers some very distinct and special starters that include local cheeses with tomato, grilled paprika and a cucumber salad.
History & background of Bosnia
The region has gone through many change of empires such as the Ottoman, Austrian / Hungarian and finally falling into the hands of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The country has been though a lot including a not so distant genocide and yet there seems to be a calmness and peace among its people. I’ll keep this post light and not delve too much into the past and so I know with much hardship comes some gains and each of the empires have left a little bit of their influence visible in the food, architecture and attitude of the locals.
About the locals
I have always been of the opinion that cold places breed cold people but my experience of Sarajevo and the balkans have been quite the contrary. The locals are hospitable, polite and will go all out to help. These little things sometime matter more than the grandeur a city has to offer. It also helps when most people speak english which means getting around is neither difficult or tiresome.
Getting around in Sarajevo
Most locals opt to commute by foot or local transport which is the tram. From what we were told the system is excellent and is connected very well. It is also obviously the most cheapest way to commute and tkts cost about 1.20 Marka which in conversion to the Euro is about 80 cents. Our taxi driver mentioned to us that checking your ticket in and out of the tram after every trip was extremely important as many a time a ticket officer looking to make a quick buck will fine tourist for not following rules. Taxi are quite cheap too and if you stay within the old city the best way to commute would be by foot. We were put up a bit away and hence opted to get around the city in a taxi however once in old town we pretty much walked everywhere despite of the freezing temperatures.
Things to see and do
- Visit the 1984 Winter Olympic Park
- Say a prayer and light a candle at the Sarajevo Cathedral
- Walk into the indoor farmers market. Try some local produce and buy some edible souvenirs
- Get lost in the cobble stone alley ways of old town where you’ll fine get bargains on handmade crafts
- Visit Beg Mosque
Why must you visit Sarajevo?
Bosnia is still one of those countries that is totally under the tourist radar right now. Its cheap and what you get in return for your dollar or euro is of so much more value than any where else. The people are extremely friendly and hospitable which to me is always one of the best selling points about a country. After all its the people and the experience they provide to outsiders that make memories to last a life time.
Americans and Europeans do not need a visa to visit Bosnia-Herzegovina for up to 90 days is the same policy that applies to Central and South Americans. Those outside of this region who hold a Schengen visa are admitted for 15 days. For those traveling from Qatar this rule applies so make use of that Schengen visa while you have one.
I am so glad I convinced myself to make this trip. It probably is one of the most memorable trips of this year and what a way to end a hectic year of travel. Experiencing all the sights, sounds and smells around the world with Amélie has been an absolute delight. We’ve ticked off more countries than the no. of months a year has and that had been even a bigger pleasure. After all the long travels we’ve put her through she’s seen the sun, rain and snow in a single month and that to me is quite the win as a nomad mom. She always adjust so well everywhere and obviosly that makes it a lot easier on us as parents.
Here’s a glimpse of Amelie’s first rendezvous with snow 🙂
Safe travels & Compliments of the season from us at