Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Bright Lights, Big City

We've been off on a jaunt. The Brit family packed up and for no reason whatsoever other than we felt like it, took off to Sarajevo for the weekend.

It was marvellous. Sarajevo is a great city and a great city to visit with kids. Being Bosnian, they believe in a long leisurely stroll en famille of an evening, with lashings of quality ice-cream, stopping off for the odd drink here and there. At one point we found ourselves, at gone 9.30pm sitting in an outdoor cafe, supping cocktails with the boys racing around the square and everyone having a fine old time. Normal British routine gone to pot, the boys went to bed with us at midnight and even rewarded us by sleeping until 8 (a first!).

Sarajevo was looking lovely. Much of the centre of town is pedestrianised and there were a number of streets with enormous red and yellow Chinese style lanterns hanging above them. The number of hip cafes has exploded there, during summer it is very easy to relax outside, in a beautiful setting with a restful beverage, even with kids in tow. We even found a pirate cafe which, although intended for grown ups, has many useful things to keep small children amused like skeletons, muskets and pictures of ships on the walls. The Bosnians are a very child friendly culture and in quite a few cafes the waiters got on with the important job of amusing our children so we could engage with the important job of enjoying our cold beer in the evening warmth.

Having felt a bit left out from all the British Mummy Bloggers' get togethers, I decided to arrange one of my own. Well, not a British Mummy Blogger get together in Bosnia as that would be a party of, well, me. No, I arranged to meet a number of people who I have met through this blog which was the closest I could get. First of all we met up with the ever so lovely Brits of Blagai and their irrepressible daughter at the Sarajevo zoo, with its playground, little train and the odd bumper car. The kids hit it off straight away and were off climbing, shouting, laughing, evading their parents and generally loving having another English speaker to create their own toddler world with. The grown ups talked about what annoys us about Bosnia; what we don't get, how can they operate like that and why on earth do they permit... It is not that there is a lot that annoys us, but we don't get much opportunity to offload on other people who understand where we are coming from, so we couldn't resist the opportunity. Barring the odd trip to the Sarajevo hospital A&E (we are told on good authority that it is efficient, works well and you need to a car to get between the different bits of it, but as the whole happy party were reunited in under an hour you have to be impressed at the speed at which they were seen and compare that to some stories we have heard on the NHS) we all had a lovely time that afternoon and are now planning to see if we can get down to the Mostar region for more playtime soon. Sadly for us all, Mostar is a good 6 hour drive away from Tuzla, so we can't just pop in for a cup of (decent) tea.

Next up, I went to meet the other British Bloggers in Bosnia, WeDoAdventure who are also based in Mostar but who had kindly come up to Sarajevo for the afternoon to see me. Dave took care of the kids so we went for a grown up style coffee and gossip. I've been following them since they arrived in Bosnia just after us, it was a treat to meet them in person.

We also managed to squeeze in a coffee with a few other Brits so we could gossip The Ashes, debate whether the Bosnians sell cous cous at all, where we can find English language news for the region and confirm the rumour that Adam peed in the Ambassadors flower pots in the middle of a party. The boys turned their straws into guns and merrily went and found another little boy to create havoc with.

The final stop, in what had already been a real holiday, was to the Baths in Ilidza, on the outskirts of the city. What a find. We hadn't realised it was there, it hadn't been built the last time we went exploring that part of the city. Now there is a whole enormous pool complex, with indoor and outdoor pools, cafes (this is Bosnia, you are never far from a cafe) and, to everyones squeals of excitement including me, water slides! Again, being Bosnia, the old health and safety laws are not so vigorously enforced so 2 small boys are able fling themselves down slides clearly marked age 6 and up. We were there for hours.

Now, back to the same old same old in Tuzla, I'm plotting our next weekend jaunt. As are Adam and Luke, who want to go to Blagai very much indeed and are very taken with this idea of holiday. Ice cream, staying up late, lots of people to play with. Everyones idea of heaven.

12 comments:

Half Mum Half Biscuit said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Sounds like you should have more holidays. Often. x

Kat said...

I want to come!

I bet I can add a new perspective as well, the American who has lived in England who is visiting Bosnia...

Mummy said...

It sounds wonderful. I really miss that feel of laid-back outdoors cafe culture. One of the reasons I like Vietnam so much is because it is the closest I can get to that in this part of the world.

I am almost tempted to stop off on our next trip back to the UK. However, I suspect direct flights from HK to Bosnia are a bit thin on the ground.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

HMHB - I agree! More holidays! Same for you too.

Kat - come come! Sarajevo is a great place.

Mummy - would be lovely. Direct flights from Bosnia to anywhere are a bit thin on the ground. They don't even do London. GRRRRRRRRR.

To BMBloggers - maybe I can enthuse you all and Susanna can get someone to sponsor it and you can all come out for a weekend out here! You know you want to....

The wife of bold said...

I lurvvve water slides....it's just i don't like wearing a swimsuit these days so i miss out on too much fun....the diet starts today, ok well maybe tomorrow, but i have chocolate and cakes that need to be eaten in the fridge....ok i start on monday;) x

nappy valley girl said...

Sounds like a lot of fun. I've wanted to visit the Balkans ever since reading Olivia Manning's Fortunes of War (have you read the books? If not, you must.). Your post made me think of that.

Iota said...

You sound really rejuvenated.

Mwa said...

Sounds wonderful! Still not been to that part of Europe. Must get planning...

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

WoB - swimsuits are not my favourite either - even less so when surrounded by deeply glamorous lean Bosnian women...

NVG - I haven't and I must. I vaguely remember the TV adaptation from sometime in the 80s. Thanks for reminding me.

Iota - I am. Hadn't realised how grumpy I was being!

Mwa - Not far from Belgium. You can drive it. If nothing else get to the coast of Croatia, it is STUNNING!

SandyCalico said...

It sounds wonderful, both as a city and as a way to catch up with other Brits :-)

Anonymous said...

Did you know you could take them rafting if you wanted to? They allow very small children on board in some areas and so far nobody's drowned :)
Raluca

Nicola said...

How lovely to meet up with other bloggers! I met up with Potty Mummy when I was in the UK and it was brilliant (well, for me at least). Odd to feel like you know someone so well when you have never met them before in your life!

And thank you so much for your lovely comment on my last post. I really enjoy reading your adventures too and find a lot of similar experiences with our boys. And as for contributing to the expat mums blog - of course! Would love to.