I've always wanted to visit the Balkans, but being um, "financially challenged" has sort of temporarily put a damper on those plans. ;)
But, that minor glitch didn't prevent me from reading the Lonely Planet's guide to the Western Balkans. There generally aren't too many travel guides to the Balkans (at least none that I have seen) and this guide was the only one at my library that had Bosnia in as well.
My library also has some travel/pictorial guides about Yugoslavia written in the early 1980s, which are pretty interesting to look at.
Some general overviews:
1. A Baklava World Tour: I love Baklava; I've had Baklava at Greek restaurants and at a Lebanese restaurant; according to the book, Baklava is also a national dish of Bosnia, and I suspect some other countries in the Balkans as well. I would love to take a 'world tour' so to speak of countries where Baklava is a major dish. :)
2. What-no Tuzla?! I was scanning through the Bosnian section of the book; and I noticed there is no mention of Tuzla. Now, I realize that Tuzla is the Jan to Sarajevo's Marcia, but still, there are some things to do and see in Tuzla; such as the largest salt lake in Europe and several rock festivals. Maybe it is just because I have a soft spot for Tuzla.
3 Coolest place in the Balkans. The writers of the book really love Slovenia; and after reading their description of the country, it is hard not to love it too. I'm especially taken by Metelkova, which is a former army garrison and current commune, ultrahip section of Ljubjana. It sounds hip, cool and interesting.
Anyway, the book covers the countries of: Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro (still part of S-M at time of publication) and Slovenia. I hope to cover the other countries, or at the very least, cover the countries part of the former Yugoslavia. Right now, I'd like to focus on Bosnia, since that is the focus of this blog.
If anyone has had first hand experience with the places mentioned in this book, I'd love to hear your opinions etc. In general, I wish the book included a few more 'hidden gems' and out of the way places that tourists don't usually know of.
Just Desserts: This is surely to raise my dentist bill, but besides baklava, I'd also like to try "tufhije" which is an apple cake topped with walnuts and whipped cream, it sounds delicious.
After scanning through the book, here are a list of the number one sites, events, I'd like to visit and see in Sarajevo:
Historical Building/place:National Library
Museum: National Museum: Includes artifacts from the Neolithic era to the modern period.
Shop: Bosnian Handicrafts: Get handicrafts and help a good cause, money goes to help organizations that helps refugees.
Eatery: To Be Or Not To Be: I love the title, and the food sounds quite good, including, salads, seafood and grills.
Bar/Nightclub: Sloga: According to the book, the best example of the country's nightscene pre 1992, and plays folk music, old Yugoslav tunes, rock music and more.
Place to stay: Green Hotel: A Budget hotel, with a sauna and a gym.
Place I could spend all day at: BuyBook: bookstore with titles in English and a coffee shop to boot.
Other Places I'd like to see Gazi-Hursrevbey Mosque, Orthodox Church and Museum, Catholic Cathedral and former Jewish quarter. The Old Town part of Sarajevo.
Top Event I'd like see Sarajevo Film Fest
Other Sections of Bosnia...
Historical Building/Place: Mostar Bridge
Natural Wonder: Kravica Waterfalls: I've seen pictures of it, and it absolutely magnificent.
Shop Tepa Market. Fresh fruit market.
Eatery Dubrovnik: Italian wine, food and a dance floor! (complete with an accordion player)
Bar/Nightclub: Club Cafe Banja in Mostar. Located on a roof terrace of the oldest baths and according to LP, is one of the only places in Mostar where young people from the East and West get together.
Place to stay: Omer Lakise: positive: cheap and homey. Negative: one bathroom for 8 potential guests in 2 bedrooms.
Place I could stay all day at: Old Town in Mostar: cafes, vendors and restaurants.
Other places I'd like to visit medieval castle in Travnik.
Now on to Croatia!