Bosnia & Herzegovina
three days with franz ferdinand hostel
In October of 2018 I've received an email from a hostel manager in Sarajevo inviting me to Bosnia and Herzegovina for the promotion of their country. Me being huge fan of our neighbours I couldn't say no, so the next thing I knew we started packing our bags. I also got the freedom to invite my friends so naturally Leš went with me, but I also invited Jelena, my friend from Serbia. It was a great opportunity to meet her halfway and explore new places together. She said yes so few weeks later we met in Sarajevo.
Our host home for the weekend - Franz Ferdinand hostel, located in the famous heart of Sarajevo called Baščaršija, welcomed us in the way I could never forget. With big warm smiles on their faces and well known Bosnian sense of humour we kicked of introductions the funniest way possible and settled in the prettiest room they could have given us. We felt like someones really important hahaha, such a new and unexplored feeling for all of us.
Right after we settled in, Nirela - our host and the hostel manager, showed us around the place and told stories about some of the rooms and interesting hostel history. In a charming building, built in the Austro-Hungarian period, young architects and designers refurbished the space and shaped a hostel that tells the story of the event that initiated the First World War and forever marked Sarajevo on the map of the world – the assassination of the Austro-Hungarian archduke and Royal Prince Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. Every room in the hostel is authentic and you can choose to sleep in the Franz Ferdinand Room, Sophie Chotek Room, the Mlada Bosna Room or the assassin Gavrilo Princip Room or rather, take the romantic room of the couple in love, the Sophie and Franz Room.
Nirela also organised a walking tour around Sarajevo with a (very funny) guide who told us all the interesting stories about Sarajevo, its architecture, culture, people and history. It was truly informative and we incredibly learned a lot of new information even though all three of our countries share the same ugly history. Despite the fact that our ancestors spilled each other's blood, we as a new generation have the power and all the time in the world to change the course of that same history. On that note, we enjoyed each other's company during those 3 days and I hope we can set an example for others in doing so.
It wasn't long after the tour that we started exploring Sarajevo on our own. Basically, we drank 5-6 coffees a day and ate so much food we couldn't breathe most of the time. It is the perfect way to spend your time in Bosnia because food is to die for! Make sure to try real Bosnian coffee, the most beautiful thing in the world for all the coffee lovers out there! When it comes to food you need to try cheese pita and burek! You might put on few kilos while here but it is so worth it. I recommend visiting burek places called Hodžić, Bosna, Sač and coffee shops Kaffa and Miris Dunja. At least those were our favourites! Coffee is good wherever you go so you can just explore and find your own place to chill.
As far as the Sarajevo goes, I think there is no point in mentioning specific places to visit but one - Tea House Džirlo. It is the place where reality meets magic and the guy who owns it is someone you get if you mix Albus Dumbledore and Luna's dad. His name is mr. Husein and he just might be the most interesting person I met on all of my travels! He has a very special way of greeting his guests so be prepared to hear everything he has to say. Not only his stories are special, but the beverages he serves are out of this world. The main specialty is definitely the Salep - a very interesting drink made of wild orchid's roots which tastes like liquid vanilla and has a hot chocolate texture but it's neither of those things. The flavour is indescribable and this places is one of only 3 places in the world where you can try it! Just trust me and make time to visit :)
Nirela also organised a day trip to Mostar for us - a well know city in Herzegovina which I deeply wanted to visit for so long. On our way there we made few interesting stops and saw beautiful parts of Bosnia I didn’t even know exist - Konjic, Jablanica and Buna village. Here are some impressions from that day:
The thing I liked most about Mostar is that it reminded me of my hometown Zadar and it really felt like coastal Croatia. We enjoyed exploring the old town but we didn't have much time to just soak it all in. I want to go back and take it easy the next time!
Unexpectedly, this was one of the most relaxing and interesting trips I’ve had. Bosnia left us all speachless, both with its beauty and people. So close, yet so different from Croatia!
The most memorable experience was being hosted by our friends from Franz Ferdinand hostel which made these days truly magical and unforgettable. I just want to express huge gratitude to Nirela who made it all happen! I really hope to be back soon and drink all that Bosnian coffee I can’t stop craving!
Stay adventurous and I wish you happy travels! :)