Coming attractions: Sarajevo

The memory of the Yugoslav Wars is too fresh for many of us to think of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a tourist destination, but in the ten years since the conflict, the country and its capital city, Sarajevo have made enormous strides. Long gone are the days of ethnic conflict, strife and war crimes — 2009’s Sarajevo is a charming, cosmopolitan city surrounded by hills, cafés and culture.

A great deal of momentum has been building in the travel community around Sarajevo and its surrounding country, perhaps most notably garnering heavy praise among the Lonely Planet brands. As the ever-balanced Wiki-travel gushes:

Sarajevo is a cosmopolitan European capital with a unique Eastern twist that is a delight to visit. The people are very friendly, be they Bosniaks, Croats, or Serb. There is very little crime. Also there are not nearly as many tourists as on the Croatian Dalmatian coast and a wealth of architecture (not to mention history) to see.

Outside of the rich culture that you can simply soak in by loafing around the city, there is plenty of tourist fodder to consume. Among the most famous are the Latin Bridge, where archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated to start World War I and the Bosnian Historical Museum, a stunning tribute to the tumultuous past of the former Soviet-state.

More inspiration can be found in Stephanie Yoder’s article over on Twenty-Something travel. Her photos alone are worth the visit, deeply contrasting with all of that war-torn CNN footage that many of us still have in our heads. Reading the captions and narrative along with the photos, one begins to realize the depth and charm to the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Sarajevo unfortunately isn’t the easiest European capital to get to. Any voyage from the states to the Eastern Mediterranean nation is going to require at least one layover, and tickets can be pricey. As a result, it’s best to plan your vacation well in advance and spend some solid time in the city — else you risk spending all of your time in transit.

As an alternative to the oft expensive mainline routes into Sarajevo Airport (SJJ), it also may be worth buying a ticket to a major hub like Frankfurt or Amsterdam and then connecting onward on a low cost carrier. Check for possible routes.

Photo of the Day (08.10.08)

Here’s a destination you don’t see too often. Flickr user Phojo11 captured this cool wall of Alice in Wonderland graffiti while traveling through Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina. It’s heartening to see that tourism is returning to this formerly war-torn region, and also heartening to see that artistic output is thriving again as well.

I especially like the bright colors. The blue wall here almost seems ready to fade into the sky above if it wasn’t for those few green trees poking over the top. Not to mention that fearsome-looking Cheshire Cat right in the middle of the image.

Have you taken any street art photos during your travels? Or perhaps just a beautiful cityscape? Add it to Gadling’s photo pool on Flickr, and it just might end up as our Photo of the Day.

Word for the Travel Wise (05/31/06)

Sarajevo is heating up as a tourist destination and for several reasons. For the moment I’ll focus on culture and events. After glancing over the tourism website for the city and country it is quite obvious the visitor will not bore easily considering the amount of activity to soak up and in. May marked a month of theater and those with departures set for June can count on a month full of Rock sounds. If you can afford to stay a while longer or hold off until July there is what looks to be an incredible music plus culture find in Sarajevo’s old Turkish quarter. Held during summer months the festival is titled Bascarsija Nights and offers folk dancing, opera, ballet, rock, poetry and love songs. Best thing about this particular festival is it is free of charge. So what’s the hold up? Doesn’t a summer in Sarajevo sound nice?

Today’s word is a Bosnian word used in Bosnia-Herzegovina:

putovanje – travel

For Bosnia-Herzegovina there are three official languages which include: Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian. All three are a lot alike where the language is referred to as Bosnian by Bosniaks in Bosnia-Herzegovina and referred to as Serbian and Croatian by Bosnian Serbs and Croats. (See Wikipedia.) There are a few cool places online to help get you started on the road to speaking like a Bosniak. If you’re unfamiliar with spoken Bosnian and pronunciation start with the BBC Languages Quick Fix guide where audio downloads are available for the very basics. Languages of the World has great background information and history on the lang with a few words peppered in on their webpage. Lastly, check out this Bosnian for travelers page where you can score an large amount of words, phrases and the answers to questions you’re bound to have for free and in one quick swoosh.