Back in August, my live-in breakfast chef of 7 years and I said yes to getting married—to each other, no less. When he popped out of the bushes at my friend’s house almost 8 years ago and offered me a place to live (I was looking for a new apartment at the time, so it wasn’t that weird), who would have guessed that we’d be toasting ‘yes’ to marriage in a yurt some years later with all our best friends gathered.
Last night I came home after drinking at the bar, cuddled up with my husband on the couch, and smiled for about 13 minutes straight as I finally watched the Photographers Without Borders ‘PWB TV’ documentary episode we made in Bosnia and Herzegovina last spring, working with and meeting the young people who are trying to change a country that’s creeping its way to recovery after a brutal civil war and genocide in the early ’90s. Check the video out—I think it speaks for itself.
The cosmopolitan capital city is reclaiming its identity from the war in the early ‘90s, and is polishing up a beautiful tourism trade.
Sarajevo is the capital and largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Hugged by its hills, the metropolitan area is home to about 643,000 people. The Dinaric Alps surround the city, and has the Miljacka River running through it. Often called the ‘heart-shaped land,’ Bosnia lies in the heart of Southeastern Europe, and the Balkans.
Many people still associate Sarajevo with the war in the early ‘90s, but it’s a modern city, and hosts the premier and largest film festival in Southeast Europe—The Sarajevo Film Festival. It’s also the leading political, social, and cultural center of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and is the only major European city to have a mosque, Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, and Synagogue within the same neighbourhood (Baščaršija). Because of its long and rich history of cultural diversity, one of its nicknames is ‘The Jerusalem of the Balkans.’
I first heard it whispered about in the cozy kitchen of The Doctor’s House hostel in Sarajevo. Čajdžinica Džirlo, or ‘the hippie tea shop’ as the girls at the hostel put it. It was my second day in Bosnia and I was having breakfast with some other guests at the hostel, girls from Spain and Britain. We got to talking about when they told me I had to visit this place, near the Ottoman fountain in Baščaršija, the old town market.
One girl grabbed a map and the place was pointed out and circled. “It’s awesome,” she said, “You have to go.” I did go, and it was awesome.