Euro Trip Day 23: Sarajevo to Zagreb

This post is coming a bit late because it seems like our internet access always seems to die on us in the evening, which is when I’d prefer to be sitting around working on things like reservations for upcoming cities and blog posts and the like. In any case, most Zagreb museums are closed on Mondays, for some reason (we had this problem in Dublin too!) so it gives me time right now (now that the internet has decided to work again) to get stuff planned. I’m trying to make hay while the sun shines (or the internet works) I guess.

Anyway, before I post a few Zagreb pics, here are a few leftover pictures and videos from Sarajevo that I wanted to post. There are more pictures on my Flickr than I’ve posted here, so feel free to go look at them. :-)

Here’s a video I took of pigeons in the Turkish marketplace in the old section of town:

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Here’s another video from the marketplace.

Here’s a video I took of the main street in Sarajevo — to me the main street (Austro-Hungarian influence, from when it was a part of that empire) is a really interesting contrast to the marketplace (Turkish influence, from being part of the Ottoman Empire.) Regardless of empire, it’s a beautiful city.

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Not to get too morbid (that was Day 21′s post) but here are more roadside graves from the war, right in the center of town.

These were on the main street right across from a huge shopping mall.

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While we were sitting at the train station waiting for our night train to Zagreb, we heard the evening call to prayer (Sarajevo has a fairly large Muslim population as it was part of the Ottoman Empire for centuries.) I’d been trying to catch this on video (well, audio) the whole time we were there, and I finally succeeded just before we left. What I think is really cool about this one is that you can hear two different calls from two different mosques. Neat.

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Here are links to two other videos (video 1, video 2) of it that I took–I kept them both because they both have different things that I liked about them (in one of them I look around the train station where we are, and the other one I just like the sound.)

The night train to Zagreb wasn’t bad, even though there were no sleeper cars so we had to sleep on the seats. Seating is in compartments, so you can shut the curtains and door and it’s a bit more private than open train seats, although the conductors come in periodically for ticket checks and three different people came in to check our passports around 4AM when we crossed the border from Bosnia to Croatia. That was pretty irritating, because they didn’t come all at once. One came in, we fell back asleep. 10 minutes later, the next one. We fell back asleep. 15 minutes later, the third one. At that point, when that guy left, I sat up and looked around and said, “ANYONE ELSE??” GEEZ.

Other than the sleep though, the ride was quite enjoyable. We ended up sharing a compartment with a late-20s British guy living and working in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He’s a reader (although he prefers fiction like John does, rather than nonfiction like me) and has a BA and MA in international relations, so we ended up talking books and politics (British, Irish, American, and Bosnian) until almost 2AM. He was REALLY interesting to talk to! He made an observation that John and I both were amazed by — he pointed out that both Northern Ireland and Sarajevo (well, Bosnia in general) went through a really war-filled, violent period in the 90s. However, if one looks at both cities now, Sarajevo has transformed into what appeared to all three of us to be an atmosphere of peace and tolerance, whereas he said that Northern Ireland is still very filled with tension and is very segregated — that the peace largely exists because Catholics live in neighborhoods that are 90%+ Catholic, and Protestants live in areas that are 90%+ Protestant, and all you have to do to tell which neighborhood you’re in is look around to see if the flags being displayed are for the UK or not. It’s neat to see how far Sarajevo has come, and it’s sad that Northern Ireland hasn’t managed to do the same, despite centuries of tension in the respective regions.

Although to be frank, I’m pretty sure not all of Bosnia is as tolerant as Sarajevo appears to be. In the city of Mostar, where we spent the night before Sarajevo, by law, 50% of the city council is Muslim, and 50% is Christian. They also live on different sides of town and support two entirely different soccer teams. And the country of Bosnia itself is actually divided into two regions per the 1995 Dayton Agreement — the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is mostly Croats and Bosnian Muslims, and the Republika Srpska, which is the (88%) Serbian region of the country. Each has its own government, flag and coat of arms, president, parliament, police & customs departments, and postal system. Technically the country has one armed forces, but both entities maintain their own armies. To make things even more crazy, there’s one city that’s claimed by both FBR and RS, so it’s currently under international supervision. So they’re still very, very divided within their own country.

Anyway, so it made for an interesting train ride that passed quickly, and even though we ended up sleeping on train seats, hey, it was one night we didn’t have to pay for lodging for. I’m all about that. :-)

John, trying to sleep on the seat at around 5:30 AM.

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When we got to Zagreb, it was about 7:45 Sunday morning, and we realized that nothing was going to be open for a while, so we found a comfortable place to relax that had free wifi (outside a hotel) and we hung out there for a couple of hours.

About 10AM, the Zagreb Archaeological Museum opened, so we headed over there, and I have to say that I am REALLY impressed with the breadth their collection. The whole museum only took about an hour and a half, so it wasn’t a huge collection, but what they had, they had a lot of and quality examples of.

900,000-year-old stone hand tools -- COOL!!

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I had to laugh at this. This is a stash of coins from a Greek hoard that was found in the pot in the picture, but whoever put the display together snuck in a 10 lipa (about 1.7 US cents) coin right in the middle. If you click on this picture and then click on the picture on the Flickr page it goes to, you can see where I put a note on which one is the modern coin. :-)

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After the museum, which closed at 1PM, we wandered up to the Zagreb Cathedral and caught the last half of the church service. I missed Bosnia, but so far I’ve managed to go to a church service in all of the other countries we’ve been to. Neat! Anyway, the cathedral is a Gothic cathedral, but it’s not actually all original — the main nave collapsed in an earthquake in the 1800s and the whole thing sustained serious damage, so it was mostly rebuilt back then, and it’s been remodeled/reconstructed at various other times in history as well. Still, it was really neat, and there’s been a church on that site since 1094, so that’s something.

Doorway of the cathedral

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Crucifixion at the back of the church. This was one of the more interesting ones that John and I had ever seen -- I can't remember if I've ever seen the complete scene like this as statues within a church. Also, the way the guy on the right is looking down on the onlooker is kind of creepy. Finally, anyone know what language that is above the scene? We were trying to figure it out. Aramaic, maybe?

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I know I’m a horrible person, but I took a couple of videos during the service, just because the choir was so beautiful. Unfortunately, I wasn’t thinking and held my phone vertically to capture more of the scene, and when I used a program to rotate the video, it lost image and sound quality. Oh well. Here’s one video, and here’s a link to the second (shorter) one.

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Inside the cathedral. Don't worry, I took this (and the other pictures) AFTER the service was over.

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After church was over, we went back to the train station (where we’d stashed our backpacks in a locker) and went in search of our lodging for the night, a guest house we’d booked through hostelworld.com (which has been my go-to website on this trip when we can’t find somewhere free to stay.) I was a bit leery of this place when I booked, because it had no reviews and because it was considerably cheaper than other double-room accomodations in Zagreb. Well, turns out that it’s a bit of a ways outside the city (but a few minutes walk from a tram stop that serves several tram lines into the city) and because it’s pretty new. I don’t care about either one — John and I both agreed that this is a really nice place. Everything’s new, it’s clean, it’s quiet, the owner speaks fairly decent English, and while we share a bathroom, there’s only one other person staying here right now, and there are two bathrooms, so it’s really one to ourselves. Excellent. :-)

Lovely room!!

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We ended up taking a nap for a couple of hours since we still were exhausted from the train ride, then we woke up and went in search of a McDonald’s. I know, we’re horrible typical American tourists… but after 23 days on the road, we both wanted something familiar. Well, as familiar as one can get at McDonald’s in a foreign country. I ordered a burger called a McCountry… is this something that only exists overseas? ‘Cause I don’t usually eat at McDonald’s at home, but I don’t ever remember seeing it on the menu the couple times I have been there in the past few months. It was two chicken patties (slices of chicken, not McNugget style) and a funky beige sauce that was VERY mustard-y. Too mustard-y, actually — I couldn’t finish it, and neither could John. And it really wasn’t a big sandwich, either — maybe the size of a regular McD’s burger, only with the two patties instead of one? Oh well. The fries and strawberry shake were good, even if it did end up being quite a bit more pricey than at home. :-)

Odd McFlurry mix-ins. I believe Cornetto is chocolate-dipped (on one side) ice cream cone pieces, I know Smarties are kind of like M&Ms, and a Kit Kat is a Kit Kat (do we have Kit Kat McFlurries in the US though?) But I'm not entirely sure what Daim is. And also, can we order just plain strawberry, chocolate, or caramel McFlurries in the US? I may have to go back just to try one of these. :-)

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