Remember when I wrote my realizations while living and traveling abroad? If not I have linked it here. I mentioned the first point that I learned is to trust people. This is my story of Bosnia and the strangers I met. This is my travel to my dear Sarajevo last February 2020.
Sarajevo Ljubavi Moja, My love Sarajevo
Sarajevo is the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is situated at the heart of Balkan. Sarajevo was sometimes called the Jerusalem of Europe as per wikipedia article. Because it is one of only a few major European cities to have a mosque, Catholic church, Orthodox church and a synagogue.
Travel is not always pretty
I took a bus from Budapest to Sarajevo. It was a 10 hour bus ride. Thinking I will save a few Euros for accommodation, I had the overnight bus. The trip started okay. I made myself comfortable on a freezing winter night. My seat was next to a British guy and a Korean-American lady. It was a coincidence that this guy was planning to go to the Philippines so I had a conversation with him and gave him some tips and advice.
Road to Sarajevo
Couple of hours later, I finally got my sleep after a long day but to my disappointment we were woken up by the driver. Because we reached the land border of Hungary and Croatia and we need to do passport control. I was first on the queue to stamped out from Hungarian side I then walked to Croatian side.
Interviewed by the immigration officer for 5 minutes. I was so ashamed of the other passengers because we were all outside in a negative temperature but what can I do? The immigration officers were just doing their job. It is the cons of having a 3rd world passport.
We entered Croatia while I was trying to get my sleep again when all of a sudden the driver again asked us to go down for the second time as we reached the land border between Croatia and Bosnia. I was unfortunately first on the queue and it was the same thing I spent 5 minutes with the Bosnian immigration as they needed to check if I can enter their country and since my visa is expiring in 4 days they need to make sure that I will be leaving Bosnia.
We reached Sarajevo 2 hours ahead of our targeted arrival time. It was 4 am. I clearly remember. My check in to the place where I am staying is at 1 pm. So I decided to stay in the terminal first. The bus station is closed and the other passengers already left the station. There were a few strangers who stayed including the Korean-American who surprisingly will be my hostel-mate.
After an hour staying inside the station I decided to go look for my accommodation at least to leave my bag and have breakfast. I made my way to the tram by 5 am. I was standing and patiently waiting for someone to ask if I was on the right platform. Luckily a woman came and she confirmed to me the platform.
She hopped on first and then I followed. I was about to pay the driver by Euro but they were not accepting it as they have their local currency however I then asked if I can pay by card but they don’t have that option. I was about to cry because of the situation. Hopping off the tram was my only choice and probably wait for morning around 8 am or walk for 25 minutes in a freezing snowing moment.
When I was getting off the tram I heard the lady called me and asked me why I was going down. I answered her in a shivering voice that I do not have the cash so she said she will pay for my fare.
She was a heaven sent!
Aside from the lady who was sent by heaven to me, I met two Bosnian who were really hospitable. One guy whom I met on couchsurfing in Vienna. He showed me Vienna back in December and another guy who showed me around Sarajevo. From the old part to the new section of the city. My heart was shattered into pieces when I learnt the history of the country. Very much different to what I witnessed . While roaming around the city, I saw this phrase Sarajevo Ljubavi Moja, indeed change has come to this country.
I was lucky enough to stay in a place where I felt we were long time friends. The owner and the other guests were all game. I had the best nights of my solo traveling experience. We roamed around the city and had dinner together. After that we drank in the hostel and did bar hopping too. We managed to get home safe even though we were drunk. I had a good time with these people and with my dear Sarajevo.
The lady from the tram station, the Bosnian student in Vienna, the Bosnian guy in Sarajevo, the hostel people. All of them made me believe that there is still beauty in Humanity.
My dear Sarajevo taught me how to trust strangers the same as solo traveling. You will meet a lot of people from all walks of life, different nationality, different gender. But at the end , the world is still filled with beautiful souls. Kind souls who will inspire you and teach you valuable lessons in life