Bird's-Eye Views From
Sarajevo's Yellow Fortress
Story and photos by Tom Weber
between the muezzin's first and second calls to prayer from atop
the minaret that front's my digs at the 130-year-old Hotel Europe, in
the heart of Sarajevo's Old Town district, I gather up my camera gear,
grab a courtesy map at the front desk, then zigzag through the bustling
alleyways of the Bačarija, the old Ottoman bazaar, and arrive
at the bottom of Ulica Kovači (Kovaci Street). From here, it's uphill.
With time on the clock until I'm "sworn
in" as a member of the latest edition of the "band of merry
media" 18 intrepid travel writers and photographers invited
by Insight Vacations to sample the sights, sounds and savors of Bosnia
and the Dalmatian Riviera I lower my head, lean forward and start
my steady, slow-paced climb to Jekovac Cliff and the Yellow Fortress.
One of five bastions built in the early
part of the 18th century to fortify old Sarajevo from attack, the Yellow
Fortress, or at least what's left of it, is where a canon is fired daily
at sunset to mark the time for breaking the fast during the Islamic
month of Ramadan. Canon fire aside, the Yellow Fortress also provides
a bird's-eye view of the metro valley down below and, no pun intended,
is the perfect perch to get off some nice panoramic shots.
Lens caps off, let's get busy.
On the way back down to the Bačarija,
I pass through the Martyrs' Memorial Cemetery in the Kovači neighborhood
that's dedicated to Bosnian soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice
for their city during the siege of Sarajevo between 1992-1995.
The Martyrs' Memorial Cemetery is Sarajevo's
main, final resting place for military war dead and is considered hallowed
ground by Bosnians.
I'm in Sarajevo to see the sights, as many
as I can in the short amount of time allotted, but I'm also in town
to sample authentic Bosnian cuisine, as much as I can possibly consume.
With the aroma of meat sizzling on charcoal
grills wafting about on just about every street corner, I can't resist
and find the perfect place to satisfy my midday craving at Bosanska
Kuća (Bosnian House), an alcohol-friendly steak house on Ulica Bravadziluk.
Billed as "the best restaurant in
town," I'm ushered upstairs to a smoke-free room decorated in classic
Bosnian style, order a carafe of robust regional red and get down to
business straight away.
I order some tasty ćevapčići,
a national Bosnian dish of grilled minced-meat sausage links and diced
onion stuffed into somun (pita bread), and two skewers of succulent
pileći ranjići (chicken kebab).
To add insult to injury, I find room
no, I make room for a plate of palačinke, chocolate-filled
crepes, and a dezva (small copper pot) of Bosnian coffee.
Lunch, overall, is delicious, but as I
pay the bill I remark to the wait staff that today's coffee was not
quite as good as the one I enjoyed last night.
Without blinking an eye, one of the waitresses
points to one of the female cooks and boldly pronounces, "See,
if you don't make good coffee you'll NEVER get married."
Wisely, I flee the scene before vows can
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See you tonight down in the lobby of the
Europe where we'll get acquainted with the other members of
the newly-formed "band of merry media," hop aboard the Insight
motor coach and officially jumpstart this adventure with dinner and
drinks over at Mrs. Safija's.
Surprising Sarajevo Dinner
in Grandma's Kitchen (Dispatch #2); Destination:
Bosnia and the Dalmatian Riviera (Dispatch #1); An
Eastern Mediterranean Odyssey; Sailing
the Adriatic with Silversea: A Moment in Montenegro; Insight
Vacations' Bohemian Rhapsody