After our cafe experience the other day, we traipsed across the city to the football stadium for the Sarajevo Beer Festival. I’m not a super fan of beer (or alcohol, in general), but I will partake for cultural reasons, and Maggie is somewhat of a beer connoisseur, so it was obligatory that we attend. Though we knew the basic way through the city to the stadium (it’s a good two-mile hike uphill), we decided to off-road it to learn the city.
Though there has been a lot of renovation since the war, there are still entire buildings in shambles, including this one, which had trees growing inside of it. (I found that kind of beautiful).
If you want better night pictures, head over to Frank’s blog, here. We have the same camera but he clearly knows how to make it work at night more than I do. 🙂
The view above was actually stunning if you were there in person, because it was at that moment of dusk where the lights glitter but the light hasn’t quite left the sky yet. It was also quite the hike…
We finally made it, where we walked around, had beer, and talked to random people. The Slovenian Dark was the only one I really liked, and the Serbian Dark tasted exactly like warm, frothy balsamic vinegar, so we made the executive decision to not finish it.
This guy was a champ, though (MUN, we need to up our standards!)
And we met up with a group of older Bosnians who we spent the rest of the night with. They were all jolly and drunk, which made for great conversation, and the one I was talking to had a laugh like you’d imagine from Hagrid, a rolling, thunder-tumble-over-rocks kind of laugh, his entire belly shaking with humor.
Though it was all a joke, we had a few conversations:
Bosnian Hagrid: *singing Old McDonald Had a Farm* “And on that faaaarm he had a…”
Bosnian Hagrid: “Do you have a cow?”
Bosnian Hagrid: “Then you’re a peasant!”
Kristina: “I don’t live on a farm at all!”
“Bosnian Hagrid: “Do you live in the city?”
Bosnian Hagrid: “Do you have a cow?”
Bosnian Hagrid: “Peasant.”
(This conversation also happened to Frank in a similar fashion. So now we’re the #PeasantSquad).
Another guy asked if I watched a certain TV show (I don’t watch much TV in general) and I said no:
Bosnian Hagrid: “They do have TVs in America, right?”
Kristina: “Yes, but I don’t watch that show.”
Bosnian Hagrid: “What do you like to do, then?!”
Kristina: “I read a lot.”
Bosnian Hagrid: “You’re one of those bookworms!”
Bosnian Hagrid: “….but you don’t wear glasses!”
This is Frank and Maggie trying to map out the USA to show where we all live:
I was also jokingly offered a dowry of 30 cows and 15 goats, all in good fun, but we also had really good conversations with all of them about their experiences in Bosnia. They seem to be divided here (along what lines, I don’t feel confident enough to say, though I have my hypotheses) between remembering what happened and forgetting it entirely because it already happened. Many believe that war will happen again soon, though “soon” is never quantified, and many say that they don’t see what can be fixed to the broken system.
The next day we had a group meeting as the first part of our program, and we received our internships. I’m interning with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), which is actually a big deal- just one of the things they operate is Balkan Insider, the main source of credible news on anything Balkan-related. We also went to get our pictures taken for our bus passes for the month, after which we went to a small restaurant for lunch, where I had the first real vegetables (onions with cevapi don’t count) in a week.
(I love the faded yellow and teal combination).
It’s my goal to document all the gelato I eat here, though I did miss shooting the kiwi the other day because it was raining. This was kinder bueno (I think), but either way it was delicious.
We went to Balkan History class (our professor loves Medieval History and is awesome) and subsequently intended to depart on a city tour with him, but it downpoured so we stayed in a coffee shop for a few hours before heading to a hookah bar with the professor and his class.
Frank got better pictures of the hookah bar, but it was outside/inside, covered with lanterns, hanging plants, different fabrics, and various smoke scents, and we went inside to the third floor where we all piled onto cushions and sofa-ed benches for coffee and hookah.
The professor was fantastic and made it a point to move from group to group to talk to each and every one of us; it appears that this kind of environment isn’t an anomaly and that it is quite common to do this with university teachers here, an atmosphere I appreciate greatly.
After that, even though it was past our scheduled time, the professor took us on a night tour of the city, another gesture I was impressed with. Though you’ve already seen most of the city through my previous wanderings, Sarajevan nights are delightfully crisp and humidity is nonexistent, making a walk through the night a wonderful thing.
This is an old fountain in the middle of Old Town (I forgot the official name but I’ll post it when I have a chance to fully research it). It’s quite beautiful and is the designated “Mary Poppins Pigeon” spot of this city.
The mosque pictured above is the main one in the city and it is absolutely stunning. I’ll take pictures during the day when I have a moment, but my appreciation of the solemn space they create for contemplation is unceasing- especially at night.
Below is the Eternal Flame, a landmark of the city and a memorial to those lost in World War II. The only time the Flame stopped burning was during the Siege of Sarajevo, when the gas was not available.
This monument, which you’ve seen before and know to be the memorial to fallen children in the war, is actually meant to represent a mother protecting her child- something that isn’t hard to be seen when you know what to look for.
What I didn’t realize is that the metal plate the green stones sit on and water splashed from is actually made from melted shrapnel, bullets, and war debris, into which children’s footprints have been shaped, a chilling detail.
This blog will not always be happy, and when I look at that picture (and the monument in real life), I hear the patter of children’s footsteps, the ghosts of their laughs and lives and the lives they might have beget, and I remember why we study peace and conflict and our place in the world.
For a good recollection of the war from a child’s perspective, read Zlata’s Diary.