Roni’s 1st Night in Sarajevo, 2009 – Part 1

Coat of arms of Bosnia and Hercegovina
I didn’t make a reservation for a hostel, because it was my sincere hope that I would somehow get a CouchSurfing host or a friend to find a friend that would host me, etc.  Up until the last minute in Banja Luka, I was checking my e-mail in the hopes of some last minute break.  When I got into Sarajevo, I stood by an apartment complex to get some wireless to check again.  Nada.

I had already found a decent hostel, but wasn’t sure if there were rooms.  I figured even if there weren’t any, they could refer me.

4km from the station, they recommended to take the tram.

1)  I didn’t see where the #1 tram was.

2)  I wanted to check my CS messages and my e-mail.

3)  The weather was nice.

So in the end, I started to walk.

Of course, it started to rain.  I asked people where to go, and it was the same general direction that I was traveling in.

A guy with an umbrella offered to share it with me.  It seemed like a kind gesture.  As he kept going with me longer than I figured, I began to worry that he wanted money.  He wasn’t sure exactly where I was supposed to go.  We got to the old town and I asked someone in a restaurant.  They vaguely pointed the direction.  As we went, the guy said he was Albanian.  I said I was American and asked him if he was from Tirana.  He said Kosovo.  We arrived at some random nice hotel that he pointed at.  Then he gestured that he wanted money for walking around with me.  I shook my head. We parted ways without fuss.

After checking at the hotel, I found out that I was only two blocks away from the hostel, which was by “Cheers bar.”  Apparently, in 2008, they opened said bar.  This amused me, as it’s the second change of a Balkan city that I had visited in 2007.  (The other change being the new trams in Zagreb.)

No rooms in the hostel.  They say I can go to this other place, which is pretty much the most expensive hostel online ($25 a night).  Take a taxi with some British guys that don’t have rooms at the first hostel because they reserved for the wrong night.

The new hostel isn’t anything special.  They take my passport to make a copy and want a 5 Euro deposit for the key card.  I consider leaving to check somewhere else out.  When I find out that one of their two toilets isn’t working, that’s exactly what I do.  The guy says that there is another hostel that is a couple bucks cheaper.

Before checking it out, I stop at a mini-mart and buy some juice and two chocolate bars.

I am confused as to where the street might be, so I ask some locals.  One tells me that it’s on the other side of the mosque on the other side of the Muslim cemetery.  I walk through a gap in the Muslim cemetery to find the street.  I look around, but there’s no hostel.  I ask some guys, they don’t know about such a place on this street.  One speaks fairly good English.  The one that doesn’t knows someone that has a room that they could rent me.  I go with him around the corner and through a door where there are some apartments.  A little girl says “Goodbye!” to me as I enter.  Turns out there’s no room, as a woman waves us off.  Back out to the street.

The guy that knows some English ponders.  He asks a taxi driver, who says that he knows somewhere where there’s a room.  We go back to the same apartment complex.  The taxi driver makes me wait, then comes downstairs with the same woman from before.  She opens a door to a room, which contains two twin beds and a bathroom.  It’s fairly clean, but it’s the same price, which was more than I wanted to spend (I really didn’t want to go over $20, if I had to spend anything at all.)

Back outside again.  This time I figure I’ll head back to the old town (the 2nd hostel was on top of a big hill).  There’s some sort of a take-away pizza place open.  They have these huge sticks for the trays to take the pizza out of the oven that extend into the sidewalk.  I consider getting some pizza, but then start to move on.

All of a sudden, a woman appears and starts talking to me in English…

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