Bosnian Excursion

I know it’s been a long time and my program is actually done now, but I’ll get to that later, promise. I’m spending all day today getting caught up with this blog so hopefully you’ll get two or three updates. Long updates, granted, but they’ll be here. Promise. Maybe. I’m not very good with deadlines as you might’ve noticed.

I’d like to preface this story with the fact that my sense of direction is horrendous. Please keep that in mind.

Anyway, about a month ago I managed to get out to Bosnia to visit a friend of mine studying there for the year. I’ve never been much interested in Bosnia, only knowing the scantest amount about the genocide atrocities committed there in recent history, and seeing as my friend Galen is very much a save-the-world type of guy, it’s not terribly surprising that he landed himself there for study abroad. The trip there was easy enough, minus the fact that I had to skip a day of classes to get down to Rome. From there I flew to Belgrade, Serbia. Being the country next door, for whatever reason the flight ended up being cheaper than a direct one into the capital of Bosnia, Sarajevo. Galen was there to meet me, thankfully, though he’d at first suggested figuring out my own transportation to Sarajevo from the Belgrade airport, ranging from train, international bus, and mini shuttle. This didn’t fly with me for reason stated above, so he made the eight-hour bus ride out to pick me up.

We spent the evening in Belgrade and sampled the local food with much relish. I was pleased to find that it was quite similar to the Eastern European food I’ve had experience with in the past, and I jumped on the prospect of having goulasch again. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture for you as I didn’t think to bring my camera out that night (fail), but I promise you it was delicious. The following day we spent on a bus to Bosnia, getting stopped at border control along the way, at which point my British passport received its first ever stamp. Apparently travelling among EU countries is somewhat like domestic travel. Bummer. We ended up arriving in Sarajevo around sunset, and Galen showed me around some of the city that evening before indulging in more local food and some rose-flavored Turkish delights.

Something I noticed about Serbia and Bosnia both right away was the sheer amount of smoking. Italians love their cigarettes, too, but I’m fairly certain that narrowly avoided lung cancer by the skin of my teeth, if that, during the course of my stay in the Balkan regions. Smoking wasn’t prohibited in restaurants from what I can tell, so there was an effervescent hovering of tabacco in most everything I ate and smelled. What was even more off putting was that the stink persisted for about a week after I returned home.

The following day Galen and I met up with a few of his friends to visit a tiny mountain town, Tuzla, a few hours north of Sarajevo. At this point the weekend is rapidly drawing to a close, and I’m starting to get worried about how I’d make it back to Belgrade for my flight home. I’m terrible with directions of any sort, even in places I’m familiar with, and not having any inkling of the language really bothered me. Luckily, after an seven-hour bus ride and a dubious taxi trip, I made it to the Belgrade airport intact, though not for lack of nerves and irritation.

However, this is where the problems started. My cell phone must’ve run out of money, and I was suddenly out of contact with my parents. I spent the better part of a few hours frantically trying to use both my Italian and Spanish phones trying to text/call the United States. I even bought a Serbian SIM card, to no avail. Suffice to say, I figured that my parents were not pleased at all. I managed to get on my flight and into Rome without any other problems, and since I received calls on my Italian phone for free, my mom managed to get a call through before the damn phone started dying! I only just managed to buy a charger from the airport electronics store before they closed, and by that time I’d missed the last train going out of Roma Termini. I spent the night in the airport before finally catching a train back to Florence, where I promptly collapsed into bed for about a half hour before heading to class.

Admittedly not the best ending of a trip. I wish it had gone more smoothly but I was ultimately glad to get back to Florence at the end of things. It was an interesting trip and fun to see Galen again, but I’m not sure I’d go back to Bosnia without any sort of incentive. Next post: Easter!

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