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.
The Alchemist is Paulo Coelho’s famous allegorical novel, first published in 1988 in Brazil. It follows Santiago, a young Andalusian shepherd as he makes his way to Egypt, following a dream he had of finding treasure there. The Alchemist has been translated into more than 70 languages and has been inspiring people for decades. Its message of following your heart and finding meaning in life has resonated with thousands (if not millions) of people.
After re-reading the book last week, I wanted to share some of my favourite quotes to try and capture the essence of the book.
The first thing I highlighted was this excerpt from Coelho’s lovely forward to the 25th Anniversary Edition, published in 2014:
“Wherever I go, people understand me. They understand my soul. This continues to give me hope. When I read about clashes around the world — political clashes, economic clashes, cultural clashes — I am reminded that it is within our power to build a bridge to be crossed. Even if my neighbour doesn’t understand my religion or my politics, he can understand my story. If he can understand my story, then he’s never too far from me. It is always within my power to build a bridge. There is always a chance for reconciliation, a chance that one day he and I will sit around a table together and put an end to our history of clashes. And on this day, he will tell me his story and I will tell him mine.”
I wish everyone could read this. Like, could wake up and find it under their pillow and know what it means.
“What’s the world’s greatest lie?” the boy asked, completely surprised. “It is this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”
— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.20
The boy didn’t know what a person’s “Personal Legend” was. “It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend.”
— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.23
“To realize one’s Personal Legend is a person’s only real obligation.”
— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.24
“You dream about your sheep and the Pyramids, but you’re different from me, because you want t realize your dreams. I just want to dream about Mecca. I’ve already imagined a thousand times crossing the desert, arriving at the Plaza of the Sacred Stone, the seven times I walk around it before allowing myself to touch it. I’ve already imagined the people who would be at my prayers we would share. But I’m afraid that it would all be a disappointment, so I prefer just to dream about it.”
— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.57
He still had some doubts about the decision he had made. But he was able to understand one thing: making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.
— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.70
“There is only one way to learn,” the alchemist answered. “It’s through action.”
— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.129
“And what went wrong when the other alchemists tried to make gold and were unable to do so” “They were only looking for gold,” his companion answered. “They were seeking the treasure of their Personal Legend, without wanting actually to live out the Personal Legend.”
— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.129
“But men began to reject simple things, and to write tracts, interpretations, and philosophical studies.”
— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.130
“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.”
— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.134
“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky. “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”
— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.134
“Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.”
— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.135
“When men are at war with one another, the Soul of the World can hear the screams of battle. No one fails to suffer the consequences of everything under the sun.”
— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.140
“The Alchemist” was originally published in Portuguese and its name was “O Alquimista”.
Does seeing the quotes make you want to read the book? If you already read it — put your favourite quote in the comments below!
*All page numbers taken from the The Alchemist 25th Anniversary Edition from HarperCollins.
The Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa is essentially a working holiday visa for people aged 18-30 who want to travel or live in the UK for up to two years and work at the same time. It’s a perfect way for Canadians to get abroad and get international working experience for a few years, with relatively simple paperwork. Continue Reading
You don’t need any maps. The trail is straightforward. When you reach Lake Louise, follow the path that leads towards the back of the lake and you’ll come to the trailhead naturally.
Everything can clearly marked, with lots of good signposts along the way. A lot of the signs were in miles. Canada only got their metric act together in the 70s, and a lot of the signs have been here much longer.
And hey, we made this awesome video to share with you.
It starts off on a rainy morning. We saw lightning strikes as we headed across the Lake Louise Parkway.
We weren’t allowed to film inside the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. They have a no-media policy to preserve the atmosphere and let their guests tune in to nature instead. Totally fine by me. Their chocolate cake made everything okay.
Okay, so I did sneak one photo. Of this mostly-eaten cake. I couldn’t stop myself; the cake was half-gone before I even picked my camera up.
Not in the video: When we arrived at the Lake Agnes Tea House (with only enough money for one chai!) the staff at the Lake Agnes Tea House gave us a note to take to the staff at the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. In exchange (and out of the kindness of their hearts) they gave us a cookie.
The two sets of staff hang out together and walk the path between tea houses all the time. They also walk up and down the mountain nearly every day, with trash or to get supplies.
The note said, “See you for church night. Don’t stand us up again!”
I asked our server what church night is.
“Oh, it’s half off wings and beer down in town.”
The Banff Tea Company provides the tea for the Plain of Six Glaciers tea house. I visited the tea company in Banff the day before (because of course I did) and there I learned that the woman who started the Banff Tea Company now owns the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House.
The Banff Tea Company even does a special Plain of Six Glaciers herbal blend. I got this and some of their Traveller’s Tea. They do a lot of specialty blends with rocky mountains and Albertan themes. Definitely visit them if you’re in Banff.
You can’t buy any loose tea at the tea house. Bringing up stock is difficult so they only keep on hand what they need to cook for guests. If you want to buy tea, best stock up in Banff before or after.
The Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House is pretty old. It was built in 1927 by two Swiss guides for the Canadian Pacific Railway. There is also a dog named Arlo-Barlo.
The Lake Agnes Tea House is the oldest tea house in Canada. It was built in 1901 by the Canadian Pacific Railway and started serving tea in 1905. They have been serving tea for 110 years.
Honestly, walking up to the Lake Agnes Tea House was like walking into Rivendell. We were so tired and it was such a paradise. There’s even a waterfall with stairs going up the side you have to climb to get there.
For Canada, that’s mighty old.
That’s a lot of cups of tea.
It was so chilly outside the tea house and warm inside with the ovens going that thick condensation hugged the windows. It was so cozy. I could have spent the whole day here.
I don’t know if you can tell, but I am VERY happy here.
Also, we had some ridiculously good photo weather. I mean, and this is half brag and half incredulity, but just look at these!
I kept feeling like I was in Jurassic Park, or a new Mac OS screensaver. Either way, goddamn lucky. It was rainy and overcast when we left (as you can see in the video). Never thought we’d get clouds or sun like this.
The photo above is a piece of the mountain known as the Big Beehive.
If you do this route, don’t forget to bring cash.
The Lake Agnes Tea house is cash only, and Plain of Six Glaciers did take our VISA, but bring cash, that way you’re good no matter what.
Ask me any questions you want about the trail! Is there anything I forgot to add?
And (of course) a rainbow at the end of the day to tie it all together.
This was a day when I felt really lucky to be alive and be human and get to climb mountains and drink tea and see rainbows.
The world is a really extraordinary place. I’m very privileged and lucky, but you know what? A lot of people who can afford to, don’t even make time for little pleasures, like looking at rainbows, and drinking tea. They say they can’t, or just don’t think of it.
Make time for those things, okay guys? They’re really important.
And you know what? Rainbows are free. Tea is nearly free.
What’s that phrase, “the best things in life…”
Day 16 Costs:
Family Diner, Lupper for 2: $34.29
Lake Agnes Tea House, Chai Latté: $4.00
Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House (chocolate cake, 2 sandwiches, soup with corn chips, chai latte, 2 bottles of water, lemonade): $53.80