Friday, November 04, 2005

Day Trips

Stu and I have now hit most of the "suggested itineraries" according to our Bradt travel guide. I would make a terrible food/travel critic because I love/d almost all the food and hotspots we've visited. I think Stu would have something else to say about the food...I love the heavy, starchy foods of the region, but, Stu...not so much. Here's a rundown. Of course, pictures will be added when possible!
1) Bjelasnica/Igman Mountains. Like the ski resorts in the Jahorina Mountains (#2), this mountain range/ ski resort is incredibly close to Sarajevo. A straight shot by the airport, follow the mountain road up and away, and you're there. I had a fantastic cheese pie, i.e, sirnica, at one of the restaurants recommended in our travel guide. This is my all-time favorite Bosnian food. It has all the qualities I love, cheese and flaky pastry/bread. Yum. Bjelasnica/Igman was home to some of the ski competitions during the 1984 Olympic Games and has some eerie relics of the era. Eerie, because of Serb bombing. There are mine warnings scattered here and there, which only adds to the mood. Stu and I explored the ruins of the ski jump and the old press box/UN post (quite safe/no mines). Then, we hopped back in the car and explored the highland villages. We (I) especially wanted to find Lukomir, a village that still prctices the "old ways." Unfortunately, the rocky and mountainous terrain proved too much for our little Volkswagon. Sigh. Beautiful scenery, though. I am determined to get to this place before the snow hits--can't reach it between mid-November and May.
2) Jahorina Mountains. If we thought Bjelasnica/Igman was easy to get to, Jahorina is a walk in the park. A straight road from our house, through the town of Pale, up through the mountains (again), and we were there. Much bigger than Bjelasnica in terms of the ski area and in better condition. Less war damage. We had a great meal at the Hotel Termag. I had veal. It's true! I feel much less guilty eating veal in Bosnia as they don't cage the little things up before slaughter. It's all natural slaughter here. Anyway. Followed by a very scrummy meal of veal, smoked salmon, prsut, and I forget what Stu had, we enjoyed the most delicious cherry pie we/I've ever had. Even at a fancy pants hotel like this, with two beers, tea, appetizers, a hearty meal, and dessert, we only payed, roughly, $25. Amazing. We went for a great hike and drove to the tippy top of the mountain. Great opps. for pics, which we did take. Let's not dwell too long on that as I don't have the goods to back it up...yet. As Stu is quite the old man (tee-hee), I continued to hike up one of the mountains while Stu stayed below and snapped pictures. We think we'll come back here to ski--I'll learn and Stu will enjoy the more advanced slopes. Fantastic to think it's only a half hour away from our house.
3 and 4) Ilidza and Skakavac Waterfall. Running out of time here, so I'll combine these. Illidza, hmm, how to describe? It's a suburb of Sarajevo and has Roman ruins, Austro-Hungarian ruins, Ottoman ruins, war ruins, you name it. It also has "great natural beauty" according to the guidebooks. This is true. It has a spring that just pops up out of the middle of nowhere, as springs do, I suppose, and is surrounded by a lovely park. In this "lovely park" are restaurants, hotels, and horse-drawm carriages! Stu and I took a horse-drawn carriage ride down the center of the park and had a chance to see all the stately homes and the ruins of stately homes dotting the countryside. The only thing that marred our journey was the "Danger! Mines!" signs you pass every so often. You don't expect to see such things in such a setting. It gives you a wallup. Now to Skakavac. This was an unexpectedly long hike. About three hours, which, for us, is long. Bosnia is short on clear signs to its natural wonders, so we parked miles away. It was about 4pm, and quite dusky, when we actually reached the falls. We needed walking sticks to go down/up the mountains. Oh! And before I forget, I had the most amazing benets (sp?) with mladi sir (literally, young cheese) at the (as in "only") restaurant in the Nahorevo Valley. Fantastic!

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