Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Tuzla vs Sarajevo

The second week of our luxury jaunt was spent in Sarajevo. Still only a 30 minute drive to the ski slopes (so we did pop back for another go) but with culture as well. There's no disguising that I adore Sarajevo; having grown up in London I will always have a fondness for the bigger cities and their bustle and chaos, but I was surprised by how stressful I found the traffic and the parking situation there.

Back in Tuzla I can see the benefits of a smaller town but that hasn't stopped me drawing up a list comparing the two:

Things Sarajevo has that Tuzla doesn't

1. A functioning airport (people say Tuzla has one, and that it is an international airport, but I don't know where it is and as far as I can tell the only destination has been Marakesh, once, which seems highly dubious to me).

2. Skiing

3. Traffic problems

4. A Chinese AND an Indian take away that delivers. We tried both last week in a state of high excitement. They were both great, but we may be poor judges as we haven't had Chinese or Indian food or flavours for months now.

5. Internet supermarket shopping that delivers to your door in 2 hours.

6. A Zoo (which I am not so excited about) with a HUGE playground (which I am).

7. Trams, which are a great afternoons entertainment for a 1 and 3 year old.

8. Cinemas which even show the odd film in English. Tuzlans say they have a cinema but no one knows where it is, nor what it is showing.

9. Tourists

10. A big city mentality

11. A lot of cultural events including an internationally reknown film festival, a jazz festival, a winter festival. You name it really.

Things Tuzla has the Sarajevo doesn't

1. The Bosnian National Theatre

2. Municipality heating (actually I don't know if Sarajevo has an equivalent but it is one of the best things about living in Tuzla during the winter - see previous post)

3. Big salt water Pannonian lakes for swimming in with associated cafes and bars for that beach feel

4. Parking (and lets not underestimate this one, parking in Sarajevo is a total shocker, always)

5. Easy to navigate and to drive around

6. Ilincica - the big, almost mystical woods and park on the hills behind the city, something out of Lord of the Rings

7. A big figure of a fireman up a ladder outside the fire station. Admittedly not so exciting for many people, but if you are a under the age of 4 this is pretty cool.

8. Ice rinks and trampolines set up on the tennis courts during the winter.

9. A Human Rights Film Festival

Thinking about this I realise that there are a lot of things that both cities have that are unusual in Bosnia. The immense sense of pride in their city is one. The genuinely multi-ethnic nature of both cities is unusual, possibly stemming from the fact that both cities retained their multi-ethnic population throughout sieges and massacres during the war. To be Tuzlan or Sarajevan appears to transcend ethnic labels. I suspect this contributes to the fondness that I have for both cities.

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