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Archive for August, 2007

Heading East

I was in Goražde last weekend. It’s a cute provincial town in East Bosnia. Many would say a forgotten one. Forgotten by the state that doesn’t invest in it and forgotten by the Bosnians who rarely visit it. I remember mentioning to an acquaintance of mine who lives in Sarajevo that I’m going to Goražde, on one of the previous occasions, and she said: What on earth are you going there for? I thought there wasn’t anything in Goražde. Well, there is!

Touristic Signalization

As it’s quite common in Bosnian towns, a river dominates in the landscape of Goražde. In this case Drina, considered as one of the most beautiful rivers in the Balkans, fast, clear and powerful. It divides the city’s centre in two halves, joined by two long bridges. During the winter months, with freezing winds blowing down the stream, these become real obstacles to those who have to cross them on foot on a daily basis. But in the warm summer afternoons, I find them great for relaxing walks interrupted only by moments of staring at the slow water flow beneath. I have a fond memory of my boyfriend and me running into each others arms on one of these bridges, from the days when he served the army nearby, couple of years ago. It pops into my mind every time I step onto the bridge, making me smile all the way across it.

The right Drina’s bank is where all the reputable caffees are located. All in one street of corse. The korzo. I like Cafe M with it’s cozy chairs and romantic lanterns the most. Rush serves the best pancakes. Warm patisserie can be found at the bakery right next to the Bridge of Alija Izetbegović. I haven’t tried many restaurants, but I liked the place called Soma, a bit hidden off the main road on the left Drina’s bank, close to the city’s Gallery. It’s a pension and restaurant with nice open summer garden, serving tasty Bosnian and Italian dishes. Very cheap, too. In fact everything in Goražde is, comparing to Sarajevo and some other big towns.

Pure Nature

As you get further from the centre, along both sides of the river, a few small buildings and colorful little houses are replaced with walking paths. River sides are friendly and easy-rechable. These present a kind of fishermen’s paradise. A bunch of trees hide the grass from sun here and there, making wonderful picnic spots where locals like to gather around roštilj (grill) in the weekends. I believe many young couples in Goražde have their very own secret romantic place there to visit during the hot summer nights, too.

During the winter, Goražde is as sleepy as any other smaller town in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But in the summer, it’s full of people. Like the Dalmatian coast, as one woman I overheard passing-by described it. It’s when many Bosnian-born foreigners visit their relatives in town and The Festival Of Friendship fills every suitable corner of Goražde with freelance singers and performers from all over the world. People of Goražde have shown to be great hosts, welcoming and always willing to help.

Hip-Hop Jugglers

A bit off the main roads, certainly off the main tourist maps (which is starting to change), Goražde is a society of it’s own, very close and at the same time very open to newcomers. Friendly and unspoilt, a true piece of Bosnian soul.

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Plava Prizma

Yesterday my friend got married and set off to the sunset with her new husband. My other friend caught two wedding bouquets at two weddings at the same day. I managed to be all dressed up and really happy in spite of the low temperature and dark clouds that covered the city. So, when she proposed a cappuccino at one of the restaurants I’ve been longing to visit since the day it opened, I was sure that a great Saturday afternoon is coming my way.

My friend has organized and prepared a weekend seminar for some foreign colleagues of hers and apparently learned some interesting facts about Radon Plaza Hotel. There’s another restaurant, although not as good as the one we were heading to, in her opinion. The massages in wellness are worth the price, as one of her colleagues who tried them has said, and the two of us definitely have to try them once. She has seen the pool only on photos, like me, but she agreed it looks fantastic.   

Since the first step, I discovered that Radon Plaza is so much more than a regular everyday place for a simple person like me. I was overwhelmed with luxury every step of the way. And boy, I was glad to have with me a friend who has been here before, because otherwise it would be pretty complicated to figure out how to use the elevator and on which floor the restaurant itself was (even if I am a person who usually figures things out very quickly). Since it’s on top of the building, I presumed I’d just push the button with the highest number once I get to the elevator, the way it’s done in normal buildings. So, in case you end up in the kind of trouble I was lucky to avoid, you should enter the floor’s number before you actually get into the elevator and the letter you will then see on the screen is the letter of the elevator you’re supposed to get into to get where you’re heading. Oh, and the restaurant is on the 15th floor.

Before the elevator stopped, I had just enough time for a glimpse of how good my friend and I looked in a mirror. Then the door opened and we were greeted by a slow music, loud just enough to hear the words of the song and a smiling waiter who took us to one of the tables for drink (which don’t have any prepared plates like the eating tables as I learned later). As soon as I sat down on my chair, I was amazed with the spectacular, 70 meters high, view of my own city. I never saw it from that perspective. And I must admit it really looks magnificent.

So, it took only a few seconds before Plava prizma (The Blue Prism) became one of my favorite places in Sarajevo. A bunch of ideas about wonderful lunch that I’ll surprise my parents with, a romantic dinner that I’ll take my boyfriend to, and cake-breaks I’ll try to include to my out-of-town guest’s city tours rushed into my head even before I opened the menu.

And after I did, I wasn’t disappointed either. The prices are a bit higher that at the average restaurants I usually go to, but that was expected. Since I wasn’t hungry, I just scanned through the appetizers, meat dishes and Italian food (and some other things I don’t remember), where the average price of the portion was 20-30KM (10-15€), until I got to desserts. Blue Prism pancakes sounded like a sweet calorie-bomb I craved for, and combined with Nescafe chocolate cappuccino they were an inspiration for a good few hour’s conversation with my best friend.

But the experience didn’t end there. The most interesting thing about Plava prizma is the fact that it’s the first rotating restaurant in this part of the south-eastern Europe, as the Radon Plaza’s website says. I believe it took us an hour and a half to rotate a whole circle. We admired the long main road that goes to the city center, laughed at the typical Bosnian houses in the hills that look as if someone has spilled them from the sky without any order and I tried to see my building which was impossible because one of the hills blocked my view for a few millimeters. I remembered how much I love Sarajevo, in spite of the fact that it goes on my nerves sometimes.

Before I knew it, hours have passed and it was time to go. My friend and I decided to come back to Radon Plaza more often, because we enjoy it and deserve it. And that is how the few hours of conversation with a friend in a rotating restaurant overlooking Sarajevo made me realize that things I often take for granted are extraordinary when seen from another point of view and what I sometimes consider luxury is in fact something I should afford to myself more often.

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