Monday, July 17, 2017

EUROTRIP 2016 - Part 5: Sarajevan summer dream, vol 2


"Sarajevo is a real-life museum with a lot of character, cuteness, harsh past still seen all over the city and on peoples faces, curiosity that makes you chase all the little hidden corners and their gems, magical atmosphere, delicious and happy moments, humanity and kindness, beauty as it is, merak (wonder, enjoyment) and rahatluk (comfort)."

You may have noticed a glimpse of all this from my previous posts about Sarajevo (you can find them by clicking the label Sarajevo in the right), this city and its surroundings have a lot to offer. History suffuses the country and the people have found a delicate balance to their lives. The culture is open, people are kind and the pace of life is lovely. Throughout the city, you can see the influences from this; how history play outs across every building, architecture, conversation and coffee shop. All those tasty influences in the coffee, food and sweets, the beautiful architecture and the delicate touch on peoples lifestyles reflect the rich history of the country that has been hugged (sometimes more harshly) by different cultures. All of those ancient as well as modern cultures have been mixed with the rich bosnian traditions making it a home for a distinctive bosnian vibe reflecting a true multicultural spirit of the Europe and the region. 

After waking up in our home, drinking the morning coffee on the balcony while putting our make up on it was time to step into the hot tram and head to the center. We roamed around the city and its green hills with our friends and relatives, popped in to those little cute art galleries and museums, such as Sevdah Kuca (serves also as a sevdah music themed restaurant) and in Vijecnica - City Hall. The warm weather gave us an opportunity to cool down near the river Miljacka at beautiful park At Mejdan (or Trg Franje Josipa), which is now dominated by a wooden music pavilion and surrounding mountains while enjoying the kiseljak mineral water and pulse of the city itself. We planned to rent city bikes from NextBike to go to Goat Brigde/Kozja Cuprija - roman bridge at Miljacka river to swim but then, because it started to rain we needed to postpone it.

Usually, we sat down to some of the many cafes for a drink. One of my favourites is a traditional drink salep made from tubers of the orchids at Cajdzinica Dzirlo (Tea House). It was easy to pop up into Maison Coco for the best patisseries in town, Baklava Shop or Badem, a specialty shops selling bulk bins of nuts, candies and spices, and take some snacks for the walks up to the hills or gatherings with friends in the cute and relaxed nargila bars. From time to time we ate some pitas (fillo pastries with different fillings; burek with meat, krompirusa with potatoes, zeljanica/spinatusa with spinach, tikvenica/misiracnica/bundevaca with squash, sirnica with cheese and so on) at Buregdzinica Sac (the best ones in the city, the better ones can be tasted in the Lukomir mountain village) sat down to some of the traditional food serving ascinica restaurants, restaurants with stories to tell, such as Inat Kuca, amazing and not too crowded Dunja and Nanina Kuhinja or just took some waffles at Metropolis restaurants. One of the great and a bit remote places was also 4 sobe gospodje Safije, where restaurant, wine and cocktail bar, lounge room and Safija’s Garden are all located under the same roof. It is based on exotic fusion of modern cooking and traditional gems of BiH cuisine. This restaurant is taking special care that ingredients used are coming mostly from local productions, which I also give a great value to.

One of my favourite coffee shops in Sarajevo are the traditional ones located in Bascarsija (e.g. Cajdzinica Dzirlo Tea House, Ministry of CejfMahala, Istanbul, Dibek, Damask, Nafaka, U Prolazu, Mrvica, Slasticarna Ramiz, Morica Han, Hotel Europa etc...), on the rooftops in the modern part of the city (e.g. Turkish cafe Gonul Kahvesi in Shoppig center SCC or one of their cafes at the hill above Inat Kuca, Cafe Hotel Hecco Deluxe and its rooftop terrace, Manolo, Revolucija 1764, Cafe Michele, Cafe Tito, Zlatna Ribica with its mysterious charm, Cafes at Vrelo Bosne Park or Mejdan Park along Miljacka river, and Hotel Malak Ragency in Ilidza) and the ones that are a bit more challenging to reach, such as Cafe Panorama, Pino Natur Hotel, Vukov Konak mountain logde, Park Princeva and restaurants in Sunnyland! Kamarija is a great choise for people, who choose to visit both Yellow and White Fortresses (most tourists dont even know about the white one, that is situated even higher than the Yellow one!), because of its excellent location, amazing view and consept! It is a cute tree house, where you can order a ice coffee to refresh you in the middle of your journey made of climbing. Trust me, if it is hot, you will sit down happily for a moment or two. If you decide to visit the White Fortress as well, you will also pass by the Visegrad Gate (built between 1727 and 1739), which was the main entry point to town and is one of the three gate-towers in the Vratnik Old Town (The old Vratnik fort) with the other two being Sirokac Tower and Ploca Tower.

All these moments, we sat down every now and then and sipped some strong bosnian traditional coffee (do not mistake it with turkish one, they do indeed taste different and are prepared and served differently - no sugar should be added while making it, in addition, much thicker creamy foam should be on the top). The sidewalk café culture is alive and rampant here. Locals and tourist alike spend hours people-watching or being people-watched, cejfing and enjoying the moment. Coffee is so important part of the day, that you even use different words for coffee moments at specific times of day, where azgalica is the morning coffee and sikteruša is served after a meal, razgovorusa is drank during the conversations and docekusa always prepared after arriving home. It is served in a full dzezva on a round copper/iron tray with a little keramic cup sitting in the metallic one called fildzan (or even solja or saljica), usually there are rahat lokum marmelades on side. In Bosnia, people bake the coffee from finely grounded coffee; tucana kafa. They even baked it during the war and siege from finely grounded lentils when no real coffee beans were available - just to be able to cejf and feel "normal". Cejf is a word that is hard to translate, but it means living in a moment, without any rush, daily dilammas and extra heart beats, it means the ease of breath during that special moment that will always hug you, relax you and surround you with the lovely and warm serenity. I assume that danish people could understand the meaning of it, since it is something very much alike with danish hygge.

When you’re ready for your coffee, take a sip of water and spoon out a layer of creamy, caffeine rich foam from the top. Pour coffee from the dzezva before adding the foam to the cup (after all, real bosnian coffee with no foam is no bosnian coffee at all). If you want sugar, don’t plop it in your drink; instead, take a bite from one of the cubes on your tray and put it under your tongue to dissolve as you sip or, alternatively, plop it to the empty cup and pour coffee in to the fildzan/solja (cup) so that you barely cover the sugar cube and let it dissolve, then pour more coffee to the fildzan (cup) and enjoy.

Since I am a true pancake lover, so we had to make a trip to Trebevic mountain to the Pino Natur Hotel for a early breakfast (you can take a taxi or even walk). We decided to take some bosnian traditional version on pancakes; ustipci/priganice with some locally produced cheese, dried meat, orange juice and great foamy cappuchinos while enjoying the fresh mountain air and great company surrounded by the beautiful and sunny green forest. We spent a relaxing day at the mountain. On our hike back to the city center, we visited the famous remains of the bobsleigh from the Sarajevo Winter Olympics in -84. Nowadays, it serves more or less as a tourist attraction and biking/running location among the locals. It was quite amazing to see what really happens to the many newly built constructions after the Olympic games have passed; especially to the fascilities for the sports that are not so popular as hobbies among people... The route back is easy to walk for anyone who is accustomed to it and most of all... beautiful! It was definitely one of the most beautiful viewpoints down to the city! We were so happy to meet a flock of sheep and their really kind shepardess on our way down through the mountain and the neighbourhood Alifakovac. We had planned to go to the Kozija Cuprija (Goat's bridge) bridge too, which was built by the Ottomans in the 16th century. Dariva, the road between neighbourhood Bentbaša and Kozija Cuprija is a walkway that stretches for 8 km along what was once the Miljacka river canyon. Sarajevo has Nextbike, a public bike rental service that allows users to rent bikes from several locations in town and return them to the nearest Nextbike station. It means, that you can also bike along Dariva all the way to the Cuprija and back!

We happened to be in Sarajevo also during the Sarajevo Film Festival, tried to see the glimpse of Robert De Niro and enjoyed the afterparty scene at the pubs (Tesla, City Lounge, City Pub, Ort) in the street of Zelenih Beretki and Cinemas Sloga or relaxed in one of the many nargila bars. During the days however, we wanted to visit more museums, famous buildings and nature spots. Bijambare caves for instance, had been on my bucketlist for a quite some time! We walked through a beautiful forest of oak, beech and pine trees before we reach the cave complex, with stunning three caves. The nature here reminded us from the one we have also in Finland. The only difference mas made by the mountains that surrounded us. Bey's Ethno Village and a stunning restaurant called Pizzeria Nisici were also a must to see on our way up to the caves. The restaurant itself, made amazing pizzas and ustipci/priganice of much stomach friendly buckwheat! Oh what a beautiful moment it was for our stomachs and taste buds!

After the best days spent in the city, we also did an A M A Z I N G hiking tour to the Visocica mountain with the best guys from Highlander Adventures (these guys will arrange anything for you from the hiking trips to the city tours and rafting days) - story from that epic route will follow this one soon! I must warn you in advance that you must prepare yourselves for that amount of natural beauty...

- Herminica

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