BootsnAll Travel Network

Sarajevo: 20 Thingies

Because we knew so little about Bosnia and Sarajevo, we had made sure to book in advance the hostel we had been recommended back in Rome. The hostel website had given us directions on how to get there from the bus station. The bus station should be next to the train station, and out the front take the Number 1 tram to Skenderija stop. The hostel should be just near there.

We stepped off the bus. This did not look like the bus station of a capital city. We couldn’t see any train station, and there certainly wasn’t a tram running anywhere we could see. A bit daunted, and tired from the bus trip, Bec and I simply sat down and tried to gather our thoughts.

First thing – we need to get some money. I spied a Bankomat not far away, headed over to it, and put in my card and pin number. Now, how many of these thingies should I get. Hmmmm, the lowest option is 20, lets just go with that. So I returned to Bec, now carrying 20 Bosnian thingies.

“How much is the tram going to be?” Bec asked.

“Um……….hang on, there’s a cafe over there, maybe they’ll have some prices up.” I quickly went over for a look, whilst Bec was approached by kids begging for money. I returned as she apologised to another kid. “Right, a can of coke costs 2 thingies, so we should definately have enough for the tram. Sorry mate.”

But we still had no idea where the tram was. It was then that the blonde headed lady sitting next to us sensed we were a bit disoriented.

“You need room?” she asked.

“No thanks. We have a reservation at another hostel.”

“Reservation. Why you need reservation in Sarajevo?”

“Uh…….. do you know where the tram goes, we need to get tram number 1.”

We tried to explain where we needed to go, in the hope this lady may be able to help us – she seemed friendly enough. We showed her the address, and she seemed to understand where that was.

“Come with me and I show you where tram is.”

Ok, now we might be on our way. But then she stopped, grabbed the address from my hand, and looked at it again. “Tram not good. No business today. You must take taxi.”

Uh oh, here we go, I think we might be about to get fleeced here, I thought to myself. I tried to ask why we couldn’t get the tram, but her English seemed to fail her whenever she tried to explain. “I get you taxi. Five euros. Here here. Come come.”

Bec and I looked at each other. We felt like we had no other option, and so followed as the lady took our address and called over a taxi driver to ask if he knew where it was. Surely this was her man, she gets us in his taxi, he gets a big fare, she gets a decent cut, pretty straightforward. But the taxi driver didn’t know where the address was. She called over another taxi driver, and then another, before we found one who did know where we wanted to go. Either this was a really good scam, or she was actually helping us.

Deciding to go with it, Bec and I got in to the back of the taxi, whilst the blonde lady jumped in the front. As we drove through the city, she began pointing out points of interest, “This building here, badly bombed.” Not only was she getting us there, but she was giving us a tour as well.

After a few minutes we drove into a dodgy looking area, a group of kids sitting outside a half demolished old building. This, apparently, was where our hostel was. We drove up a little street, past the kids and the demolished house, and saw a street sign that was actually the street we were after. Continuing up, we found the number 12 of the hostel, but saw no signs to indicate this was anything other than an ordinary house. The driver pulled over, and we all got out. Whilst Bec and I got our bags from the trunk, the blonde lady ran over to the door, hit the buzzer, and was soon talking to the lovely hostel owner. Yep, this was exactly where we needed to be. We paid the driver 5 euros, the blonde lady wished us all the best, got back in the taxi, and they drove away.

We still didn’t know what language they spoke, or what currency they used, but thanks to the kindness of this lovely lady, we had at least made it to our hostel. And damn were we thankful for that.

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