Doing life right, at home and away

Tag: sarajevo

Orkney ferry dog

Of Sarajevo souvenirs

Beside enjoying really long train journeys and exploring balkan food culture, there was a real reason for my recent visit in Sarajevo…

This guy:

(We have a dog now!)

We’re calling him Musti. That’s Finland’s most classic dog name.

A pile of cats

(I still nap with the cats, though.)

copper tray with coffee

Of coffee, food and Sarajevo

Sarajevo surprised me with all its lovely restaurants, cafés and bar offerings. Especially the cafés – Sarajevans are café people and lounging around in one of the many coffee spots and sweet bakeries seemed to be a typical activity for an afternoon in Sarajevo. The city centre is full of cafés and they have adopted the coffee cultures from every historic influence: traditional Bosnian, Turkish, Viennese and Italian.

Foodwise, the city seems to be slowly incorporating some aspects of modern, international cuisine to its variety. The traditional “ašćinica” canteens are the places where most locals eat, and they are – in practical terms – similar to the old fashioned family taverns also found elsewhere in the Balkans, Greece and Turkey. Many ašćinicas mainly serve lunch and close some time in the afternoon. Bosnian traditional foods are hearty and tasty, incorporating influences from the wider Balkan, Turkish and even Mediterranean cuisines. In the traditional restaurants, the foods of the day are on display behind the counter, you can go look at them and then order what looks best.

The cuisine is very meat-focused, with relatively few vegetarian options, other than as side dishes. Alcohol is a little difficult to find in many restaurants, although not impossible!

And – oh yeah – you should also read my other post about Sarajevo.

Some typical foods you should eat when in Sarajevo

Bosanski Lonac – A must-eat! Bosnian stew, made of meat chunks and vegetables. The stew varies a lot depending on personal preferences, family recipes and regions, as well as historically societal class. The stew is prepared by alternating layers of vegetables and meat, until the pot is full.

Sarma (meat) & Dolma (vegetarian) – Filled grape leaves. Sarma tends to have a  rice & mince meat filling or dried smoked beef – dolma usually just has seasoned rice.

Prebranac – Made across the Balkans, Bosnian baked beans. The beans are soft yet still with a bite to them. Flavoursome, rich and savoury, like a warm hug.

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The snow-covered Austrian Alps

Of the natural geography of cities

I’ve been thinking about the natural geography of cities quite a bit. Especially having lived in three different cities and visited many more, you start to notice things and see what you’ve always taken for granted.

Being from Helsinki, I grew up near the sea. The sea was a given, a basic birth right that held no special significance until I moved away. I’ve come to realise what kind of a privilege I had had for my whole life.

In Paris, the Seine provided a little air hole, some sense of space and distance, a view – if not to the horizon, the unknown, then at least further than the end of the street.

In Karlsruhe, for a long time I felt something was a little “off”: an unidentifiable feeling, an anxiety, sometimes a bit like I was suffocating. One day, while on a quick day trip to Heidelberg, I realised what was causing it.

Karlsruhe is the ultimate landlocked city, with no water or changes of altitude. I realised that I had never lived in a city like that before and that I was not adapting very well. In Karlsruhe, you never get the possibility to disconnect from the city, to see out into the distance. You never get to see the landscape, the bigger picture, the horizon. You’re not prodded to marvel at nature, the humanity of it all. You don’t get to feel small, or to disconnect from your life and your position in it. Maybe this is an escapist viewpoint, but I cherish it none the less.

You know that part in Amélie, when she is looking over Paris from Montmartre, wondering how many couples are having an orgasm at the same time? That. In Karlsruhe, you never get to do that.

Amelie thinks orgasms

I’m writing this from the train back to Germany from Zagreb, and a big portion of the journey is through the Alps of Austria. Quite breath taking, really – endless, massive, several-kilometers-high mountains with a white snow coating and a fog curtain gently resting near the peak. Deep, long valleys with alpine towns, one after another. At one point we were so high, that the whole scenery, houses, everything – was covered in a bright white snow blanket, glimmering in the sunshine of the early morning.

The Austrian Alps, seen from the train

Sarajevo is also surrounded by mountains, the Dinaric Alpes (though they also have the Milijacka river), and it got me thinking if maybe mountains are even better? In sea shore cities, you have to go to the sea in order to appreciate its wonders. However, in many cities surrounded by mountains, you can see them from most places in the city. I can’t really describe the feeling it gives me, seeing the rolling hills, the forest, vineyards or houses on the hill, from everywhere you are.

Anyway, wherever I decide to settle, there had better be mountains or sea, or at least a big river. Or both. Or all of the above.

Leftover Balkan food for breakfast

(I also had some leftover pita for breakfast.)

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