Sunday, September 5, 2010

Travels and Travails

I'm sitting in my hostel in lovely Sarajevo, enjoying the night breeze and grapes fresh off the balcony. Bosnia has been love at first mountain, and boy have there been a lot of mountains! The best word to describe the countryside is bucolic (or maybe idyllic), as it has been lush and spacious, dotted with red roofed cottages and the occasional herd or flock.

Sarajevo itself is incredibly beautiful, taking up a valley floor and surrounded by Lord of the Rings-esque mountains (which of course Lauren and I felt compelled to conquer). The city is lovely, and its people rather quirky. The ravages of war are still apparent in the pock-marked pavement and buildings--they have filled in some of the shell marks with red paint and call them the roses of Sarajevo, which stand in stark contrast to the real roses which beautify the city.

It is not an uncommon sight to see men and women dressed in the height of fashion sharing a cobblestone street with women in abayas and men with long beards. The call to prayer here is very melodic, and shares air time with the church bells. Oh Sarajevo. :)

Serbia was very different, with a very widely varying landscape. There were mountains and craggy cliffs just over the border with Bulgaria which gave way to flat plains filled with corn fields and streets lined with wheelbarrows full of watermelons. Belgrade showed its communist roots very blatantly, and there was a pervasive air of poverty and oppression. I think that probably had lots to do with the rather oppressive blocs of grey, crumbling apartment buildings. On the plus side, we had a self-guided Orthodox church tour which was lovely, and the food was both cheap and delicious!

The hardest part of Belgrade was getting from the bus station to the hostel. I ended up walking there, bag and baggage. It wasn't too bad (once I pulled myself together and did it), but neither was it the most pleasant experience ever. I'm going to have shoulders of steel by the end of this trip, that's all I'm saying.

Lauren and I have had a splendid time catching up and travelling around. Our next stop with be Mostar, Bosnia and then off to Kodor, Montenegro. We'll figure things out from there. The hardest thing so far has been trying to convert Serbian Dinars into anything else. The Serbs are still very much loathed in this part of the world (they obviously didn't make themselves any friends), so people aren't willing to change money.

Yay adventures! I've gone abaya shopping, and have procured an appropriate scarf/under-bonnet, and will try to get the robe tomorrow in preparation for Saudi travels. Woot!

1 comment:

  1. Jen, Sounds exciting! 2 down 5 to go on your 7 nation jaunt? Email on the way..