Sarajevo to Split, sorta

Start location: Sarajevo, Bosnia [umap id=”11857″ size=”t” alignment=”right”]
End location: On a bus somewhere south of Split, Croatia

Sarajevo Pivara (brewery): Experienced a new kind of entertainment for the locals this morning:

  1. Go to the “pigeon square” with a bag of grain.
  2. Find pigeons.
  3. Find a tourist/target.
  4. Position self on opposite side of tourist from pigeons.You—–Tourist—-Pigeons
  5. Throw out grain.
  6. Watch as pigeons attempt to fly through the tourist trying to get at the grain. (Bonus points: 10 each time the tourist gets hit by a pigeon, 100 if he gets shit on.)

Logged on to email to contact Dell, now that I have the stupid service tag number. All of the forum responses I had solicited said that the motherboard was dead and would have to be replaced. How am I supposed to do that in Bosnia? or from the boat somewhere in the Adriatic? Argh.

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Playing “Tourist/Target Practice” in Sarajevo’s old town (I was the target). The Sarajevska pivara beer hall. Interior of a mosque, Sarajevo, Bosnia.

I’d woken up and got out by 07:30 to see the morning fog mix with the smoke from the bakeries, but the old town was clearer than yesterday morning, and less mystical. Still nice to be up and out before the throngs. Then some more internet time researching my laptop problem, back to the hotel to shave (drama) and shower (contortionist required) and pack. Then what? …beer.

I remembered that the brewery – not far from me on the other side of the river – had a restaurant, so I headed over here. Good call – this place is an awesome huge old bar, old-world good. Reminds me, too, of the bar in the Utica Brewery in upstate New York, except this is about 5 times bigger.

At this point I’m basically killing time before I head back to the depressing desolation of the train/bus stations. Bus doesn’t leave until 21:00, but I’ll start getting provisions and catching the tram already around 18:30. No rush, no panic.

Food here is ok. Had the “something beg čorba” (soup) and chicken filets in a Gorgonzola sauce, with rice. It was all tasty, but I have the feeling that a less generous, more worldly food critic than a boy from Ohio would find it average. The beer is nice. Service pleasant but somewhat inattentive. I’m the only customer in a brewery bar that could handle hundreds… you’d think it wouldn’t be hard for me to order a beer.

Ok, so dinner last night was good: decided to check out a place from the guide book called “To be or not 2 be”. I wanted something small, so I ordered the chicken risotto – got a pretty large portion instead. Very tasty. Tried a glass each of local red and white wines. Downstairs are only two tables squeezed in with the kitchen area. Upstairs is a bit more room, but not much.

Ambience is very nice for a cozy romantic meal. Instead I was sitting next to a Canadian doctor and his wife. A very talkative doctor, and it was stimulating to listen. Didn’t really have much choice in the matter though. Anyhow, he’s with some international organisation that goes around certifying that doctors and hospitals are up to UN standards or something like that. The conversation didn’t stand still long enough for me to eat, much less nail down details.

This morning I walked through the courtyard of the big mosque in the old town. Saw a KM .20 coin laying on the ground and picked it up. Didn’t feel right (or necessary) to pocket it, so I went over to the fountain and tossed it in with all the others. Besides, maybe some Sultan was watching me from some high window, and he would reward me for my deed… nah, that stuff only happens in fairy tales. Well, at least I didn’t get yelled at for throwing stuff in the fountain – that’s how my fairy tale would more likely end.

For some reason the fountain reminded me of a dream I had a few nights ago. I was laying on my back by a fountain pool around the base of the Washington Monument, which I’m pretty sure was in front of Goldwin Smith Hall on the Cornell Arts Quad. The pool was at first full of bottles of beer, but that gradually morphed into a full-blown bar around the base of the monument – one of those dreams where the reality of the vision changes and the dream progresses, without reason (or basis in physical possibility).

Anyhow, at the crucial moment of the dream, the bar has become “self-serve”, and I pull out a bottle. The whole display, dozens (perhaps hundreds) of bottles of beer, wine, and liquor crashed down around and on me. I remember thinking “if the thick base of one of those bottles hits me I’m a goner.”

They crashed, and a hug river of booze flowed across the quad and down to Cayuga Lake, but that’s it. Nobody cared or did anything. I was unhurt. I wanted to confess what had happened, make reparations or something, but there was nobody who cared. Eventually I realized I hadn’t done anything wrong – I was doing what I was supposed to do, and not recklessly or rudely – so screw ’em, it was their fault for having such a stupid bar design!

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[Later] It’s nice to see so many people meet randomly on the street, clasp hands, and just talk. Sometimes they hold hands throughout the entire conversation, sometimes they chat for a few seconds, then move over to a nearby cafe (there is always a nearby cafe) to carry on the conversation. The guidebook mentioned this habit, but I figured it was a quaint thing the author threw in for a bit of color, but it happens a lot. I also saw car drivers stop to chat with a friend walking along the sidewalk, with traffic backing up behind them, and true to the guidebook’s description, nobody honked or got upset. Guess they figure “today it’s this guy holding up traffic, tomorrow it may be me”. Very nice to see this happening. I didn’t want to intrude with my camera, and anyhow this may be something that video could capture better, but anyhow, guess the mental videos will have to suffice for me. For the rest of you you’ll just have to go yourself.

18:51 Conversation at the Eurolines Bus Station: I am trying to make sure I have enough BiH money to get out of the country, without too much left over.

Mark: For the bus to Split, is there a fee for baggage?
Woman: Bus to Split is at 9 o’clock.
Mark: Yes, thank you. Is there a charge for baggage?
Woman: Baggage is over there (points to long-term storage,
not “baggage for this bus trip”
Mark: Thank you. Now, is there a FEE? A CHARGE?
Woman: Huh?
Mark: DOES IT COST MONEY?
Woman: <shrugs><asks colleague>I think it’s KM 3.

This was at the INFORMATION BOOTH of the bus company, and I am asking if they charge money for baggage, and the woman doesn’t know. It’s a pretty basic question for a bus company. and it was not a language problem, as evidenced by her first response (I asked about baggage, she told me a time) – she just wasn’t listening. Her English was fine, she was just not interested in being useful.

Similar problem with Dell: “You motherboard it is not good. I am happy to be fixing it but according to US law we do not operate in Croatia. If you require further assistance please let me know!” You just told me my motherboard is dead… OF COURSE I NEED FURTHER ASSISTANCE YOU IDIOT.

I’m now facing either weeks without a laptop (and possibly losing my photos and other data to date) or traveling, at my own expense, to someplace where they do operate. Well, maybe the silver lining is that I can relax some in Ireland and visit a friend there.

On a lighter note: as I mentioned with the bus baggage incident, I’ve been trying to get my BiH money to work out exactly. My picnic dinner for the bus won’t be amazing, but that’s ok. Aside from food I had enough for a final internet session, tram to the station, and baggage, but I forgot one crucial thing: toilet fees on the bus trip.

Depending on what baggage ends up costing I can either go potty once or… head out into the woods. It’s good to be a guy. Anyhow, as I was sitting here waiting on my bus a guy ran past, obviously late for his bus. He jammed his ticket and change in his pocket, dropping a KM 1 coin in the process. He paused briefly, shrugged, and kept running.

I’d have chased him and given it back, but a) he was long gone by the time I could secure my valuables, b) he obviously didn’t care that much, and c) that’s a trip to the loo for me. Score! It’s only €0.50 to him, but sweet relief for me at some midnight pitstop.

Just had an awesome thought: maybe there is a toilet on the bus! (there wasn’t)

Couple of disturbing quotes from my current book, The Geographer’s Library:

…I felt certain that I would live a long, lonely, useless life and die alone and unmissed… It’s self-indulgent, I know, but this is what happens to the overachieving but essentially useless children of parents who raised their children to do well… but failed to equip them with the poison-tipped spurs of true ambition.

Hmm… that’s not me… is it? I do notice a lack of cutthroat ambition, unlike some of my friends/colleagues… Next excerpt:

Dinner was two beers and a sandwich eaten staring out the window. When I first moved here, I liked these small-town quiet nights: I sort of narrated them to myself. But there’s a fine and time-sensitive line between monastically romantic and boring.

21:49: First off, I had the presence of mind to reserve a window seat. Even though it would be dark I’d at least have something to lean against while sleeping. Furthermore I had a choice, so I grabbed the front row so I’d have a view through the windshield.

So some big loud asshole wouldn’t let me sit in my seat. When I showed him the ticket with the seat number on it he basically told me to get lost, sit somewhere else. Fine. After 40 minutes or so fat ass got off. I went to move into my seat, and then the driver and co-pilot told me to get lost, waving their hands like I was a fly. Apparently my seat was where they wanted to sleep. Then they lit up cigarettes. Argh.

More photos (Sarajevo)>>

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