I just loved Sarajevo!! I wanted to really see the city but also try to have a relaxing vacation before having to go back to the grind in Beantown. Traveling is often quite a stressful thing, contrary to what we'd all like to imagine. Sarajevo does have some sights and things to do, but it is also best appreciated by just hanging out, eating, drinking and soaking up the atmosphere, so it was really ideal.
There was a good 24-hour period when I'm pretty sure I ate only ćevapi. (Pics to follow soon.) And Sunday night I drank enough rakija to knock out a small horse. In fact, I seem to have polished off the bar's šljivovica, and had to move onto the kruškovača. (The former is made from plums, the latter from pears.) I was drinking with five Australian guys with whom I was rooming, but I stayed back and read my book since they had to get up early to go to Mostar whereas I did not and it was my last night. The next day I felt fine, but once I got in the backseat of the taxi around 12:30, I realized I might have been quite wrong.
So I'll start with the end of my stay and go back to the beginning, just for fun. The ending is a little story of how impressed I was with my body and mind's resolve and discipline not to humiliate me. After all, some things are just beyond your control. (Well, at that point, anyway.) I got to the airport, surviving the backseat of a cab (lots of jerky driving and hard braking, which was what set this whole problem off), and you cannot even enter the airport without going through security. So no bathroom for you. It was a bit tedious, but I got through. I checked in, exchanged pleasantries with the check-in girl, and it took all of 2 minutes. I honestly know I would have been fine even if it had taken 30. But it was nice, in any case. Then I calmly took the escalator to the main area and located a bathroom.
First of all, God bless European bathrooms and their beautiful privacy and isolation. Actual enclosed rooms, as it should be. I closed the door, set down my bag and Bosnian chess set (more on that later), hung up my coat and turned around. Then, I proceeded to vomit with what can really only be described as a ferocious intensity. A launching surge, if you will. Three times. Seriously, I thought of Alien. Apparently that was the price I paid for making things wait. Like, damn girl.
Then I cleaned up, walked back out and went through passport control with a smile, no one any the wiser that I'd been projectile vomiting mere moments before. And within twenty minutes, all was right again with the world.
The Sarajevo airport has all of 4 gates and one little cafe, poorly called a "snack bar" because guess what they do not have? I mean not even a peanut. The duty-free shop is right there and they had a big bag of peanut M&Ms. For 5.20EU. Yes, I think I paid about $8 for a bag of M&Ms. It is on my desk even now, so at least it's lasting.
I tried to buy 2 bottles of šljivovica--one for my office suitemates and one for my supervisor--but apparently the Vienna airport will only let you through with a certain amount of liquid, which each of these bottles exceeded. Stupid Vienna. Glad they told me, though. I was so disappointed--I mean, where the hell are you supposed to find rakija? Which is what would have made it such an ideal thank you gift. Hmph.
So I went to go read my book at the "snack bar," and though I was feeling much better, I was still delicate enough that cigarette smoke was ten times more revolting than usual. And oh holy jesus, do they ever smoke in the Balkans. Every single place I sat, someone would come sit RIGHTNEXTTOMEANDSMOKE. I moved 4 times and wound up at the edge of a long bar along the wall. I just wanted to read my goddamn book, have a beer (yeah, you read that right, judge away, baby) and not have to smell cigarette stank. I sat and watched this guy approach the bar. He stood there. I waited because I knew he was going to do it. And he did--he took out a pack of cigarettes and started packing them against his hand. He turned and looked my way a little, probably because I may have been far too audible in muttering, "Fuck. My. Life."
But finally I went to the gate, flew to Vienna (major props to their efficient passport control methods, talk about a burrito dipped in Vaseline), where I was patted down by a burly Austrian woman (I set off the metal detector somehow). There was also a strange machine for which I had to lift up each foot and step on a shoe impression while it did...something? Apparently I passed this, and I'm fairly certain it was sniffing for bombs parts in my shoe or whatever, but I asked anyway.
EA: "What does it do?"
BAW: "It's a shoe detector!"
Of course it is. But I got back to The Hague shortly after 8pm and had a very long, leisurely dinner catching up with my flatmate B, who had spent four days in Berlin.
So now back to the beginning! That will be the next post, with pics of food, sights, my chess set, all that jazz.