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Posted by on Oct 8, 2014 | 0 comments

I Heart My City: Maranta’s Sarajevo

Maranta Vego is a Sarajevo local through and through. After spending a few years in Croatia, the avid couch surfer knew it was time to return to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s beloved capital city. Now Maranta enjoys sharing her hometown pride on Spotted by Locals: Sarajevo, encouraging travelers to look past her city’s war-torn past to see its shine. Here are a few of Maranta’s favorite things about this Balkan beauty.

Sarajevo Is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is the city’s center for a stroll down its streets. Walking and talking while sightseeing is the perfect way to experience Sarajevo in a relaxing way. When you’re ready for a rest, unwind at Barhana for a delicious snack or head to Galeria Boris Smoje for drinks.

Autumn is the best time to visit my city because nature is at its most beautiful. Make the most of the fall season by visiting the Skakavac waterfall or heading to Crepoljsko or Bukovik, peak points of mountains on the outskirts of Sarajevo.

The view from Yellow Bastion overlooks Martyrs Memorial Cemetery Kovači. (Photograph by jenniferboyer, Flickr)

The view from Yellow Bastion overlooks Martyrs Memorial Cemetery Kovači. (Photograph by jenniferboyer, Flickr)

You can see my city best from Yellow Bastion, part of the old walls that protected Sarajevo long ago. The view is simply breathtaking.

Locals know to skip breakfast and check out places to enjoy cigarettes and coffee instead. Smoking is still a big habit here, and you have to be prepared if it’s not one of yours. If it is, then Sarajevo is your heaven.

The little craft shops in Old town Bascarsija are the places to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

In the past, notable people like novelist and Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andric, pro basketball player Mirza Delibasicand Czech architect Karel Parik have called my city home at one point in their lives.

My city’s best museum is Vijecnica (city hall). Built in the late 19th century, it became a symbol of Sarajevo’s golden age. It was destroyed during the war in 1992, but after undergoing years of reconstruction work, it reopened its doors in 2014, regaining its former glory.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that there’s really no need to take public transportation (except to take a tour up the mountains). You can see almost everything important just by walking around. It’s very easy to find your way in Sarajevo.

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is at Wilson’s promenade along the Miljacka River. You can run, ride a bicycle, or just enjoy a leisurely stroll.

My city really knows how to celebrate great weather because, when it’s nice out, downtown is instantly filled with people soaking up the sun with a coffee in hand. Sunglasses keep their wandering eyes hidden.

An artisan works in his shop in Old town Bascarsija. (Photograph by losk, Flickr)

An artisan works in his shop in Old town Bascarsija. (Photograph by losk, Flickr)

You can tell if someone is from my city if they greet you with Gdje si, sta ima? (Where are you?; What’s up?) or use Šatrovački slang.

Just outside my city, you can visit the “Olympic Mountains” (Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Games). When it’s cold out, you can enjoy skiing, good food, and a glass of mulled wine just half an hour away from the city center.

My city is known for being part of a global and local war scene, but it’s really peaceful and hospitable.

The best outdoor market in my city is the Markale market, if you’re looking for fresh fruits and vegetables.

Jami is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Pirpa is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, connect with a local or check the latest suggestions on Spotted by Locals: Sarajevo.

My city’s biggest sports events are football games, especially between rivals Zeljo and Sarajevo. Watch one live at Grbavica Stadium or Asim Ferhatovic Hase Stadium, depending on the game.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I enjoy long walks and window-shopping downtown.

To escape the crowds, I often stroll up the narrow streets in the hills. Exploring these iconic thoroughfares always makes me feel like I’m seeing Sarajevo through a tourist’s eyes.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be actress Meryl Streep because she’s beautiful in an unconventional way, is easygoing, and exudes positivity.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are sold at Markale market. (Photograph by jenniferboyer, Flickr)

Fresh fruits and vegetables are sold at Markale market. (Photograph by jenniferboyer, Flickr)

The dish that represents my city best is čevapćići and any kind of coffee is my city’s signature drink. Sample them at Cevabdzinica Mrkva and Spazio Caffé.

The Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Olympic Museum are my favorite buildings in town because of their specific aesthetic design, which is visible even under the ruined façades.

City Pub is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Mucha Lucha for some freestyle dancing. If it’s Monday, head to Cinemas Sloga for salsa night.

Celebrities attending the Sarajevo Film Festival without people constantly bothering them is something that could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should enjoy a picnic in a park in the city’s center, ignoring the fact that it’s not a common practice here. Simply bring your own vibe and enjoy it. I know I do and it’s so much fun.

In the summer you should take advantage of early mornings and late evenings in the city; there’s nothing better than sipping a coffee while watching the city wake up or wind down on those hot summer days.

Sip coffee at a streetside cafe in the summer. (Photograph by Film Fledgling, Flickr)

Sip coffee at a streetside cafe in the summer. (Photograph by Film Fledgling, Flickr)

In the fall you should take a walking tour to the nearby mountain points Crepoljsko and Bukovik.

In the winter you should go skiing or snowboarding on Bjelasnica and Jahorina. The peaks are half an hour away and offer great fun.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the many pastry shops in Bascarsia (Old Town) where you can indulge in delicious cakes. My favorite is Ramiz.

The best books about my city are written by Miljenko Jergovic because he was born in Sarajevo, lived here, and understands our history and way of life.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “The Show Must Go On,” by Queen.

In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because Sarajevo isn’t pretentious or glamorous, but will welcome and charm you with its tasty food and sense of humor.

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