European Vacation ’16: Day 8 — Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

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Day 8: Monday, October 3, 2016

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!  Yes, on Monday we were still in Europe. But “meanwhile, back at the ranch,” Mike and Bobbie Flora were celebrating 46 years of marriage! (46 is officially the “frozen t-bone steak” anniversary).

Adnan greeted us for breakfast again today, and we talked for longer than usual. As happy as he seems – with a steady job in hospitality – like many Bosnians he is considering moving elsewhere for greater fortune, possibly to Dubai. The realization that the country is so in flux, with so much uncertainty and political gridlock that even many of the gainfully employed don’t have much hope for the (near) future, saddens me greatly. And it’s hard to not really have anything to offer other than prayers and best wishes. One can’t really blame them for wanting more.

At around Noon, we met Adi, Malka, and Adi’s cousin Igor for a walk through the old city and lunch at the very colorful and upbeat café known as “Klopa.” I enjoyed a “pot,” which is a skillet that can be filled with cheese and choice of meat, veggies, and sauces. I opted for the “Bolognaise” pot, but didn’t realize until after completing a “Chicken Pot” that I had enjoyed Adi’s meal, and he mine. Oh, well. All delicious.

Sarajevo is a great mix of east and west. It has spent much of its history occupied. By the Ottoman Empire, which brought great Moorish and Ottoman architecture, to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which brought more European architecture to cities like Sarajevo. The result is a stimulating mix of the two, often side by side, or as sections of a city that buttress another with the time-lapsed differences quite apparent. After lunch, we took in a short tour of City Hall, once a great library, now home to exhibits, a ballroom, and of course – Sarajevo City Hall Chambers. The building had been largely destroyed during the war, but has been rebuilt and restored to lustrous colors. The arches and buttresses of the largely Ottoman architecture, along with the stained glass, were something to behold. One can’t help but fantasizing about living in such historically significant and illustrious accommodations. But like so many other structures, it’s rebuilding is far more important as a symbol of this country’s resiliency and commitment to restoring treasured places to their former glory (or better).

Monday night, we dined at “4 Sobe Gospodje Safije.” The ambiance of this once private home was off the charts. Elegance right down to the chairs and placemats, the restaurant is based on a storied but forbidden romance between Safije (Sophia) and Johan, one a Muslim the other a Christian. The menu and photos throughout the restaurant show both lovers through the ages, but one consistently has to ask – how much is true story and how much is legend, continued through storytelling over the decades? Our waitress’s own theory is it is a little of both. But it didn’t matter. I enjoyed a non-alcoholic cocktail mixing pineapple juice, coconut syrup, grenadine, and ice that blew my mind. Then, I dared return to the pasta that ruled our week in Florence but had such a nice local flair with a unique pesto and a generous helping of prawns (you know how in the U.S., if you order a shrimp dish, it’s often a whole lot of dish and about 2 shrimp? Not this dish).

Friends, if you are ever in Sarajevo, the one “must” restaurant has to be 4 Sobe Gospodje Safije. What a way to close another wonderful day.

p.s. There is a photo in the facebook post that promotes this blog entry — it is a building on a corner and says “Museum.” That is the spot where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot, setting in motion the events that would eventually spark World War I.

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