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Sarajevo, Sarajevo and Sarajevo

Logo van winter olympische spelen Sarajevo 1984
Logo Winter Games 1984 Sarajevo

A city that has been on our wish list for some time to visit. Every time we were near Split we went to Mostar, but Sarajevo is really two hours further travelling. Now we are there, and at Sarajevo campsite. The pitches on the grass are not available, as there will be a German group with 4x4 camper trucks today. At first we are bummed, but now we have a spot by the water, next to the trees and grapes. At 30+ degrees that's very tasty. Also for Misty, she's hot with this weather. Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and, like Mostar, has had a hard time in the Bosnian War of the 1990s. At one point, the city was even completely encircised and hardly anyone could get in or out. So no goods, food or medicine. We are now thirty years later and the city is almost built up again. However, those who look closely, look up, look outside the centre will still really see the bullet holes. Tomorrow we are going to the centre, but first we go to?

Bobsleebaan die gebruikt is tijdens de olympische spelen in Sarajevo van 1984
Bobsleigh track Sarajevo

The OS 1984 Olympic Bobsleigh Track in Sarajevo

Who remembers how many medals we won when skating then? None! These games were claimed by the Eastern Bloc skaters. However, the flag bearer was at the opening ceremony, my former colleague, Hilbert van der Duim. Yvonne van Gennip, who performed extraordinarily in 1988, was allowed to carry the flag at the closure. The bobsleigh track also had a hard time during the war. It was used by the Bosnian Serbs as an artillery post. Only in 2014 did small restoration work start, which consisted of removing grass, graffiti and applying a protective layer. Despite that, you can still see the many bullet holes on the outside of the track. The inside? You can walk over that. Really nice to do, but you first have to climb a bit and then be able to walk down. There is really beautiful graffiti on the large pieces now. I do like that and have been able to take beautiful photos. Rudolf walked all the way up, I didn't. In retrospect, this turned out to be only one turn away. It is special to walk through such a track, then you will learn how narrow it is and how high the bends are made so that the sled does not fly out. Nice experience. How do you get there? You can go up to the track by cable car from the city, but you can also drive up by car. We did the latter.

Het huis van Tunel of Hope Balkanoorlog Sarajevo
House of Tunel of Hope Sarajevo

Tunnel of Hope

The Bosnian Serbs had at one point surrounded Sarajevo well. (Almost) nothing came in and nothing went out anymore. They failed to take the city. The Boschn soldiers saw them coming from afar and stopped them before they could enter the city. In order to get food, medicine, artillery into the city, an almost impossible route had to be followed. Namely a crossing over Sarajevo airport, past Serbian snipers. Many have died here. Another solution had to be found. This was found in a tunnel. The tunnel on Hope. In 1993 they started digging with this from a house of the Kolar family. It took three months with 400 people to get this done. First illegal and then with the permission of the mayor of Sarajevo, which meant that more troops also became available. On July 30, 1993, two people were able to shake hands, the centre was reached. From then on, people and goods could pass through the 800-metre-long tunnel. First everything had to be carried, later there was a kind of railway line on which the goods could be transported on trollies. The tunnel also suffered from water and therefore could not be used twice. After purchasing larger pumps, that problem was also solved.

De tunnel van binnen van Tunel of Hope in Sarajevo
Tunel of Hope Sarajevo

In the museum you can clearly see on video how that went. 25 metres of original tunnel have been preserved and 200 metres have been reconstructed. I had to think for a while before I went into those 200 metres. I'm not much of a hero with tunnels. He's only 1.60 tall, so I and Rudolf had to bend down. I don't have to think about you carrying goods with you. On the other hand, you can do a lot if you are cornered, especially if you need those goods so much. Chapeau how they did this and how many lives they were able to save with it.

Het gerestaureerde stadhuis van Sarajevo
Sarajevo City Hall

Sarajevo – The old centre

The first thing we see when we leave the parking garage is the town hall and the old library (which is not there in the end). The town hall has been completely renovated, the city is being rebuilt, but is far from finished. The town hall looks beautiful inside and out. Inside is also a whole exhibition about the jurisprudence after the war. The space of the tribunal in The Hague has been recreated and you will also see photos of the judiciary of the past. On the upper floors there are exhibitions of contemporary art. Furthermore, the car and clothing of Austrian heir to the throne of the imperial empire Franz Ferdinand can also be seen. He was murdered in Sarajevo near the Latin Bridge and this is seen as the start of the First World War.

Koperstraat Sarajevo
Koperstraat Sarajevo

From the town hall we walk via the copper street to the bazaar. In the copper street you can buy everything from copper. Hand work is still being done in the various workshops, which is nice to see. The bazaar is more spacious than we have seen in Albania, but is therefore more open and cosy in terms of atmosphere. In various places there are terraces, tea is drunk and not every store asks if you want to come in. My mother also has such a copper coffee set, bought in Mostar in 1970. It is still being sold and used!

Koperstraat Sarajevo
Koperstraat Sarajevo

So this bazaar is wonderful to walk around. Bosnia and Herzegovina's largest and oldest mosque is also there in Sarajevo, but we are not allowed to enter it because of the shorts. Incidentally, he was also closed.

Sarajevo meeting of cultures, east and west
Text Sarajevo meeting of cultures on the street

At the end of the bazaar there is a text on the ground 'Sarajevo meeting of cultures', the border between west and east. We see an 'oriental' couple taking busy photos here. I put on the plunge and ask if we can take a selfie. Since we are also different cultures together. They don't quite get it, a few times I point to the text on the floor 'meeting of cultures'. Then they agree, they come from Taiwan and we from the Netherlands. If that's not 'East meets West' and 'meeting of cultures' then I don't remember. I believe we had the most fun, but yes I don't understand their culture either so it may be me haha.

Kathedraal van Sarajevo
Kathedraal van Sarajevo

When we get to the Catholic Cathedral, we see the first Roses of Sarajevo. (By the way, we were not allowed to enter the cathedral because of the shorts – the Vatican is less strict!) The red spots you encounter on the ground or on the wall are not just there, they are the 'Roses of Sarajevo'. In this place someone died from an impact. You will encounter them throughout the city, which is not surprising when you know that Sarajevo was completely encircumcised by the Serbs and snipers. In the Galerija museum 11-07-1995 you can read more about it, but also about the events in Srebrenica. This museum is less suitable for children or sensitive people. The photos are very confrontational, and so are the video footage.

Rozen van Sarajevo, rood gespoten op wegen en/of gebouwen
Rozen van Sarajevo

The museum is near the Cathedral and via an elevator you reach the third floor of the building. There are many photos, very confrontational photos. About the war, of people, of the dead, mass graves, and they hang there in large format. This makes it come in hard. The most impression was made by the Srebrenica video. First we were watching, then we sat down and before we knew it we were half an hour further and completely silent and dumbfounded. In the nineties, yes it was only 30 years ago, we studied while they were fighting here for their lives. Very difficult to comprehend. Even when you come out, see the bullet holes and red roses again, you know it's real and you don't want to experience a war. Unimaginable what people can do to each other. To finish lightly, we go to the Olympic Museum about Sarajevo 1984. We like to visit these kinds of museums. For example, we visited the museum in Lillehammer, Oslo and Albertville. So now also Sarajevo. I wrote before that we didn't win any skating medals unfortunately. If you see the results of skating in the museum, these were only the GDR and USR countries with the ladies. Among the gentlemen there was another Canadian and a Swede among them. How different it is now when skating. What do you see in the museum? The coat of President Samaranch who then experienced his first games as chairman. A lot of photos, video material, the special stamp collection, a bobsleigh, the clothing of Yugoslavia, the clothing of the opening, books, etc. The 2019 youth games are also on display in this museum. All special to see and not entirely unimportant with air conditioning! Because how hot it was in the city.

Impressie van de fruitmarkt in Sarajevo
Fruit Market Sarajevo

Fortunately, we met the fruit market and bought tasty strawberries for on the road and of course a doner sandwich could not be missing. Sarajevo is a really nice city for a city trip. We haven't seen everything yet, especially worth coming back.

Vervallen skischans Sarajevo gebruikt tijdens winterspelen in 1984
Skischans winterspelen Sarajevo 1984

Olympic Ski Jump of 1984 Olympics

The Igman Olympic Ski Jump is the ramp of the 1984 Olympics on Igman Mountain. It has a large and small ramp. During the war there was a lot of fighting in these hills and it has not been used since. From the campsite it is about a 20 minute drive into the mountains. Through a beautiful green area we drive up. I understand why this was built here, the environment is beautiful. The ski slopes were also here and they are still there. There is a lot of skiing here in winter. This is all being rebuilt. In 1984 it was still exciting whether skiing could be done. The day before the start of the games there was no flake of snow on the mountain. As a miracle, suddenly a lot of snow fell that night. The army was needed to pave the way. You can park the car downstairs and during the day (09:00-17:00) you can go all the way up with a chairlift. It doesn't look like a supersonic chairlift like in the Alps, but it's definitely new (or second hand). We drive the car halfway up. You can still walk / climb all the way up. Wearing mountain boots is then useful. We come a long way, but don't go all the way up. The view is beautiful and you manage to take beautiful photos.

Erepodium bij skischans Sarajevo van winterspelen 1984, tijdens de Balkanoorlog gebruikt als executie plaats.
Stage of honour used during OS Sarajevo 1984

The podium of honour is also still present. Restored, because the bullet holes are no longer visible. Unless you're close, you see what happened here. During the war it was used as an execution site. On the internet you can see that the stage has had various colours over the years. This time he was completely greyed with white letters. There are also photos that the stage is yellow or orange, so it will be updated regularly. We often take a selfie in every place, but not in this place for a while. It seems inappropriate to us to take a nice selfie, while people have been shot here. Didn't feel well.

Verlaten hotel bij Igman in Sarajevo gebouwd voor de OS in 1984, tijdens Balkan oorlog gebruikt als gevangenis
Abandoned hotel near Igman Sarajevo used during OS 1984

A few kilometres away is also an abandoned hotel. This was also used in 1984. Nine years after the Games, everything was broken. The entire Olympic infrastructure was destroyed. Only the exterior walls are still standing from the hotel. Everything has been stripped and taken away. It has also been used as a prison during the war. I think the structure / architecture of the building is special. It hangs over obliquely, making it look like it's crooked. Who knows, maybe someone else will come to restore and rebuild it. The location and nature is beautiful!

Experiences in Bosnia and Herzegovina

After the war, Bosnia-Herzegovina was divided into sub-republics/municipalities. Part falls under the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and part falls under the Republic of Srpska. You are not in Serbia, but most Serbs live in that area and the Bosnians are not in charge. The Republic of Srpska prefers to see itself as an independent republic, but the international community will not agree to this. The 1995 Dayton Agreement does not offer this possibility. It occasionally causes some unrest in the country, some corruption and political struggle. If you enter an area of Srpska, there are large signs that make that clear. In addition, there are a lot of Serbian flags. If you enter a Bosnian area you will not see this, there is no large sign and there are no provocative flags. Sometimes the Latin name is blackened on the road signs and sometimes the Cyrillic name, depending on which area you are. Everywhere we drove and/or stayed we have seen bullet holes in the houses. Sometimes small, but often especially a lot. Still, we didn't get used to it, it remains surprising to see. Especially because you see it everywhere. What a battlefield this must have been. Sometimes the front of the house was plastered again, but the back then shows a completely different picture. Houses are also being built next to destroyed houses, or destroyed houses are being rebuilt. You will then see that the bottom is fairly finished, but the 1st and 2nd floors consist of ordinary brown construction/bricks. The windows are already in it and that means you can live in them. Plastering the outside will come later. You will also see a lot of memorials and cemeteries with white memorial stones. There is no other way that there are many. The people themselves are very welcoming, they help you with questions and sometimes tell something about the culture on their own. Nature is beautiful green, so many ancient trees, so many hills and mountains that are all still in original condition. You can clearly see where nature has been destroyed, for example on the way from Bosnia to Croatia. There you see whole pieces of forest that is gone. That nature is not passable there are occasional roads, but often the roads are near villages and hamlets. Oh yes, the diesel price? €1.20 :-). Incidentally, the roads are well passable. We've had them much worse in Albania. And the country is big, so big that we've seen far too little. Of course we had the choice to stay longer, but for now there are other wishes planned. I can recommend Bosnia to anyone. You can visit Sarajevo for at least two, three days before you have seen a large part. I expect us to definitely come back, but see you soon Bosnia and Herzegovina and on to Croatia. Warm regards from Karlovac Croatia.


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