May. 15 2016

The best introduction to Bosnia


I hope you’re having a good day. I’m coming to you today from Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The city is nestled along a river in a mountain valley and has been described by at least one person other than myself as ‘the world’s largest village’.

In fact, Sarajevo (pronounced ‘Sarah-hey-vo’) is a city of about 500,000. That’s about the same population as Halifax, Nova Scotia, for Canadians reading this.

One example of my incredible luck during this past 48 days of travel is how I got from the Sarajevo airport to my hostel.  I landed in Sarajevo at around 11pm, after being delayed in Zagreb, Croatia for several hours. As I stood in the airport trying to use my 15-minute allocation of free airport wifi to contact my AirBnB hostel host in order to arrange a taxi, airport security started turning the lights off – the airport was shutting down.

There were two people left working at the airport – a guy in a rental car agency trying to sort things out with a frustrated tourist and a girl just shutting down her Enterprise rent-a-car booth and getting ready to leave. I went over to her and asked her awkwardly if I could call a cab (my phone had NO SERVICE, ack).

“Where are you going?” she asked, “city centre?”

“Yeah.” I replied.

“If you don’t mind waiting five minutes, I can take you.” she said.

“Really? Thank you! That would be awesome.”

Not that taking cabs are expensive here, but I was so tired and it meant I wouldn’t have to wait, plus I’d get to chat with this girl. My first friend in Bosnia!

As if getting offered a ride wasn’t great enough, when I showed her on Google Maps where I needed to go, she knew my hostel right away. She lives around the corner from it and her brother is buddies with the owner.

Yes. In a city of half a million people the first person I met was basically the perfect person. It was like landing in a foreign country and being greeted by a family member. She was so nice and was telling me all about Sarajevo. She was born in the city when it was under siege during the Bosnian War. Her and her boyfriend drove me right to the door of the hostel, helped me get my luggage out and then wished me a good evening. If they’re reading this: You are the best! Thank you!

In the morning, this was the first thing I saw:

So, a better introduction to this country I couldn’t imagine.

Also, I highly recommend The Doctor’s House hostel. If you want this view, book the 6-person dorm. It has a balcony where you can sip a beer and watch the sun go down over the valley while listening to evening prayers echo in the valley. In short, paradise.

There was a great group of travellers at the hostel while I was there (I just moved today to an apartment arranged by Project 1948 for the rest of the month). A lot of solo women travellers, which was great as we all teamed up to explore the city together.

With that update, here are some great things on the Internet this week:

So that’s my song for this week. As for your week, I hope it’s a good one.

p.s. Okay like 30 minutes after posting it I realized CBC had published my story about FGM education in London! It’s the last piece I did as a part of my CBC London internship and I’m pretty happy about it! I pitched, researched, interviewed and photographed it. Thanks to everyone who helped! Either with letting me talk to them or helping me edit it afterward. ❤️