OUCH! I don’t want to call it a complete waste, but most of our day was spent recovering from an all night bender last night. Our first 18 hours in Istanbul could have occurred in London, New York or Las Vegas for that matter. Our plane landed from Sarajevo at 7pm, we checked into the W at 9pm and we didn’t leave the hotel until this afternoon. You can’t really blame us. When we asked the concierge where we should go for the evening, he said that the W goes off on Wednesday nights and is ‘the’ place to be in Istanbul. so we stayed. Basically, the W bar turned into a club with killer DJ’s mixing alongside live musicians, performers dancing on the actual bar, and the obligatory $20-$25/drink that we were required to spend. Pretty amazing crowd and not a bad way for us to break into the Istanbul scene…although we certainly paid the price this morning. Needless to say, our travel budget took a hit last night.
And speaking of Sarajevo, what a fascinating city! To summarize, the only reason we even went to Sarajevo was because it provided the easiest and most cost-efficient way of getting to Istanbul. And rather than endure an 8 hour bus ride through the mountains, we chose to hire a recent college graduate to take us from Dubrovnik to Sarajevo. In reality, we went to the taxi line, picked out the nicest car (4 door Mercedes) and convinced the driver to spend their entire next day shuttling us 250Km to our next city. Just so happens that it was this 22year old kid who had just graduated from University in Split and he was more than happy to oblige. Very cool kid and I think he enjoyed the trip as much as we did.
I’m enthralled with Sarajevo and would love to go back sometime…maybe for a ski vacation. I won’t bring up the war anymore other than to mention that Sarajevo was at the heart of the whole thing, so like most other places in the region, war has had a profound impact on the city. We didn’t really know what to expect and when we first arrived, it was 35 degrees, super-gray and raining. Driving into the city reminded me a ton of Moscow…old communist style buildings that haven’t been maintained, and a ‘dark’ feeling to the whole place. But once we checked into our hotel and started exploring the older section of town, we really began to feel the energy of the city. Randomly, we ran across the kick-off concert of the Sarajevo International Jazz Fest, and in true serendipitous form, purchased tickets. Got to see an American jazz band amongst a bunch of dressed up Sarajevoeans(sp?) in a super-cool music hall. Kind of surreal for us. Afterwards, we asked some folks for suggestions on
dinner and ended up at this traditional Bosnian place in the heart of the old town. Bosnian food rocks by the way. Seriously. It’s awesome.
We didn’t have much time in Sarajevo (only 24 hours), so I’ll briefly summarize what we did beyond the eatingand the concert:
- Took pictures of the Latin Bridge where Franz Ferdinand was shot. For those who don’t recall, Ferdinand was the Archduke of Austria at the time and his assassination marked the beginning of World War I.
- Took a tour of the city. What is very cool about Sarajevo is that it’s a mixture of a bunch of different religions. Walking down a street you might run across a mosque, a basilica, a church and a synagogue all within a few blocks of one another. The people we met were very proud of their heritage and liked to emphasize how everybody just gets along.
- Took a tour of ‘the Tunnel’. Most of you have no idea what the ‘tunnel’ is, but for the people of Sarajevo, it was a lifeline during the War. It was an 800M tunnel built underneath Serbian troops and used to bring all sorts of things (mainly food, weapons, and ammunition) to the people in Sarajevo. Kind of reminded me of the Cu Chi tunnels in Vietnam, except much smaller.
- Enjoyed our first snow of the season. We went from 80 degree temps in Rome to snow in Sarajevo. Nice.
Really wish we could have spent more time in Sarajevo, but for this trip, it was merely a stopover point on our way
to Istanbul. If you do get the chance to visit the city though, definitely take it…well worth the effort.
Questions, comments, concerns? Feel free to post below.
PS All of the photos that I’m posting were taken with my iPhone. If you want to see some outstanding shots,
just check out Jason’s pics. He’s taking some amazing photographs.