Every so often, I document a day in my not-so-average life. Last time, I told you about a travel day gone oh-so-wrong. This time, I’ve documented a day-trip day when Chad and I left our little home base in Konjic for an overnight trip to Sarajevo to meet up with a friend and take a food tour. Here’s how things shook out.
5:18 / I wake, oh so unfortunately, with a headache. This used to happen to me a lot in Mexico and it’s been happing this summer in Bosnia, too, so I’m starting to suspect it has something to do with the high humidity in both places. I combat it with an enormous amount of water and tea and a hot shower.
5:30 / Chad’s alarm goes off and, much earlier than usual, he’s up and about getting ready for our early morning bus ride to Sarajevo. I spend the next hour eating a small breakfast (cereal), curling my hair, drinking the rest of my tea, and packing those last few things I’ll need for the trip.
6:01 / Surprise! As I’m putting the cereal away, the cabinet door falls off. It was always a bit lopsided, but I never thought to check why (it’s an old house with lots of quirks like that, so it didn’t strike me as strange). We rush to take it the rest of the way off (only one hinge is off) and move our food to a closed cabinet to avoid any bug problems before we leave for our overnight in Sarajevo.
6:25 / Annndd, we’re off! Backpacks on, Luna leading the way on the leash, we talk into town to catch the 7 a.m. bus.
7:02 / We’re a couple minutes late, but it’s no big deal since there’s a 7:10 bus as well (one of the reasons I shot for the 7 a.m. was that I knew we had a backup option 10 minutes later if we ran late), so we buy tickets, stow Luna stealthily in her carrier (as we’re still getting mixed messages about whether she’s welcome or not on the buses here), and wait.
7:30 / We’re on the bus en route to Sarajevo. I always leave the house with such good intentions – my hair curled and done nicely for a day in town – but an hour of humidity has done it’s work and now it’s a giant ball of fluff. Ah, well, when we get into town, I’ve got hair ties.
8:39 / We arrive in Sarajevo and Chad goes in to talk to the ticket sellers about bus schedules and bus stops for tomorrow’s departure. The ticket seller definitely doesn’t want to deal with us and tells us it’s too complicated to explain and we should just come back to the bus station (an extra $10 taxi ride and giant step backward from our destination: no, thank you). We decide to try the tourist info center or our hotel front desk to see if we can get better info.
This is one of my least favorite things about Bosnia, by the way: its dog-friendliness is far, far less than any other place in Europe I’ve ever been. They’re usually not allowed in restaurants and sometimes not even on patios. No one seems to know what the rules are for trains and buses and we’ve alternately been told it’s fine and then been denied boarding. And not everyone here is used to dogs, so there have been quite a few times when someone has jumped away from her in an exaggerated manner as she walked by or stomped their foot at her or even kicked in her direction. I am, obviously, very much not a fan of any of this nonsense.
10 / We get to the market entrance where we’re supposed to meet our guide for the Balkantina food tour, but we can’t find her. After some asking around and some Google mapping on Chad’s phone, we realize there’s another market down the street and, crossing our fingers, head that way.
Annndddd we’re right. We were at the wrong place at first. #travelfail
We finally find our guide and apologize for our tardiness. I also apologize that I’ve got Luna in tow. Luckily, our sweetheart guide is thrilled rather than bothered and waves away my concerns. When we go into restaurants, we’ll just put Luna in her carrier – and it does turn out to be as easy as that.
10:20 / The first stop of the food tour is a lofty indoor market full of cheese and meat vendors. We try sheep cheese and cream cheese with peppers, smoked goat and beef sausages—and we talk about how the water they use to make cheese is great for hangovers.
Next, we walk. Our guide talks about the many different empires that have conquered and controlled and built up Sarajevo over the years. She tells us about old magical pagan religions and explains the basics of the three main religion-based ethnic groups in Bosnia. We walk through Austro-Hungarian architecture and Ottoman-built cobblestone streets.
Then we stop at our second food tour stop, the top local-loved burek shop in town. Locals actually call these pies “pita” – the word burek is reserved only for the meat version of these rolled-up baked goods.
We try pitas in every flavor you can imagine, from the traditional meat and onion burek (the best we’ve had in a restaurant) to potato to pumpkin. Interestingly, the pies are served with thin, plain yogurt for drinking. It dominates the drink station in the restaurant.
12 / It’s probably nearing 12 by the time we make it to the third stop for flavorful soup made with okra, soft, thinly shredded meat (which turns out to be veal head), and the traditional stuffed veggies we’ve seen all over Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Finally, we stop one last time for rakija, a type of local liquor infused with fruits and nuts. The pear is sharp and 50% alcohol. The walnut is thick and sweet and easy to polish off.
2 / We say goodbye to our sweet, enthusiastic tour guide and head back to a sweets shop she pointed out for me along the way. I have a gift to buy while we’re here in Sarajevo and Bosnian Delight—a treat very similar to Turkish Delight—is what I’d like to get. I buy a handful of flavors and try them myself, finally settling on three that I think the gift recipient might like and circling back to the store later to buy a big box full.
2:30 / We circle back to Ali’s hotel where Chad and I have left our bags during the tour, then we grab our things and go to check in at our own hotel, promising to all meet up at the main Sarajevo fountain at 4 for more exploring and chats.
2:40 / Our hotel is amazing and we’re both delighted. It’s up the hill above old town, just across from an expansive cemetery, overlooking the orange rooftops and green hills surrounding the city. It’s my favorite place in Sarajevo so far.
I feed Luna a very belated lunch, get online for a little bit to check social media, unpack my bag, and freshen up. I take tons of photos of the hotel, which has kindly been comped for a promised review here on the blog. We also write to Ali to push our meet time back to 4:30 so that Chad can snooze a little.
4:18 / We leave to meet Ali, making our way down the hill and waiting in the shade of the fountain. The day has gotten very hot very fast and we all stick to the shade as much as possible throughout the afternoon.
Before dinner, we head to a little baklava shop that our tour guide recommended, since we hadn’t tried the traditional dessert here in Bosnia yet. I’ve had baklava a few times and never been a big fan, but I try it here anyway. Sometimes you have to go to the source.
In this case, I’m still not a fan, but at least I can say I’ve had the original version in Bosnia itself.
5:35 / We decide to get some dinner. Chad and I head off to our favorite sushi place to grab some takeaway rolls while Ali, not a sushi fan, grabs a salad and we all meet back in the park for a picnic.
7:40 / Sushi, salad, chats about life, dogs romping in the park…after our picnic, Ali and I head into old town for one last drink while Chad heads back to the hotel to give us some girl time. We drink ciders and catch up on the minutiae of businesses and feelings and travel and life.
9 / I arrive back at the hotel, do all the normal get-ready-for-bed stuff, feed poor Luna whose feeding schedule is crazy off today, take her out one last time, and then collapse into bed by something like 9:30 (a long day for an early riser).
What are your days like this time of year?