Always a bit behind.

The end of the trip is going very quickly, which is one reason I haven’t been posting as much. There’s not much time. Currently, I have a little time on the bus between Sarajevo and Vienna – about 12 hours – but I’ve also been editing pictures, so I’ve only got 38% left on my battery. So I must type quickly.

The kids have enjoyed Sarajevo more than I thought they would. So far, 3 of the students told us that starting in Vienna and saving Sarajevo for last was awesome because if we had started in Sarajevo, they wold’ve had a tougher time adjusting. Vienna is not unlike the US – big city, lots of people, shopping – but Sarajevo is a bit of a different world. One of them said to me, “When we first drove in, I was really kinda scared and figured I’d spend the next 3 days in the hotel room. But it was good that you took us out immediately and showed us around. Then I wasn’t scared, and now this is my favorite place we’ve visited.” Which is exactly the reason we wanted to bring kids here - they unfortunately would never come on their own. And I understand that because I also would have never visited Sarajevo on my own. If hubby hadn’t asked me to go with him, it would still be a city I’ve never visited. But of course, once I got there and got used to it, I enjoyed myself. And I enjoyed myself this time. Burek is super tasty, and it confirmed that I am making it right. It was nice to walk around the bacsarija, and we even got to see the green drapes in our old apartment from the road. We went out to the Tunnel Museum again, and hopefully I took some better pictures, though I have a stellar one from the last visit. We had a guided tour of Sarajevo and the Tunnel Museum, so we went to a few places I hadn’t been to before, like up to the old ruins that gives a great view of the city and surrounding mountains. At the end of our trip, we watched footage from the war, and it was a terrible way to end the tour. That should’ve been first because by that time, we had been told that we were done, and we were hungry and were ready to go, and then we had to sit and watch 10 minutes of graphic, horrific scenes. I couldn’t watch. At first I did, but then I started crying and had to look away. There were pictures of the massacre just up the street from where we stayed. I honestly can’t imagine how Sarajevans lived for 4 years running across roads, trying to dodge bullets. There was footage of a sniper taking out legs of people and their friends having to drag them to get them to safety. A mother held her child, not more than 2, and ran as fast as she could so they didn’t get shot. Thank god they didn’t. There was no water, no electricity, no heat. And Sarajevo is in the mountains. It makes me so sad and at the same time infuriates me. This is still happening today, only this time it’s in Syria. It’s in Darfur. It seems like it’s everywhere. There is no room for violence in this world, and to those people who ask why the US has to always get involved in other people’s business, the reason is because it’s everyone’s responsibility. Everyone in the world should do their part to end any war that is happening. It’s everyone’s responsibility to end needless suffering and killing of people. In Sarajevo, 1600 children were killed during the almost-four-year siege. 300 grenades a day were dropped on the city. Our guide was 5 years old when this happened, and mostly I think he’s desensitized himself from the war in order to be able to talk about it to tour groups, but I just think that he might have been one of the kids who died and how lucky he was that he didn't. So after that video, I had to leave the group because I was just falling apart. I cried over my burek at a restaurant, and then I went back to the hotel to try and process my emotions. Afterward, I was able to go back out with some of the students, but it still weighs heavy on my heart. This war did not get my attention when I was a teenager; I barely knew about it. I was so ignorant, and I feel terrible about that. But I also feel very strongly that we as a nation need to step in and help like we did with Sarajevo, and we need to do it before 8000 people are killed in 2 days as was the case in Srebrenica.

Aside from the tour ending on a sad note, visiting Sarajevo has been wonderful. The kids were able to do some shopping, as was I, and while I was waiting for the Laundromat to open, I got to chat with a grandmother who was watching her 11 month old grandson for her son. He was a small, fat little boy with feet that were about as wide as they were long, and he liked holding onto her wallet and keys. It was darling to talk to them and essentially play charades because I am woefully deficient in speaking Bosnian, which I’ve decided never to be again. So this coming year, I will attempt to learn Bosnian like I’ve attempted to relearn German. That way, I’ll be ready for next year.

Before we hopped a bus to Sarajevo, we spent 2.5 days in Split, Croatia, and that was vacation. We stayed at the Radisson Blu, which is swanky. They have a spot on the beach, along with a bar, and they have two pools – one indoor and one outdoor. It was a lovely place to stay. Our room had a view of the Adriatic. I even went swimming in it. Not only was it freezing, but it was super salty, which surprised me more than the temperature did. I was in for about 2 or 3 minutes before I decided to come out. The students of course stayed in longer. The only downside to staying at the Radisson was that it was about a 2 mile walk into town. It was along the Adriatic part of the way, so it’s very scenic, but still, arriving in town all sweaty was not much fun. But Split itself is very beautiful, and Diocletian’s Palace is interesting. You can see history piled on top of it, year after decade after hundreds of years. People even have apartments in it. How cool would it be to say that you live in Diocletian’s palace?

We still have about 7 hours left on the bus before we arrive in Vienna for the next day. The students leave on Wednesday and we leave on Thursday. One student will be flying back with us because she booked the wrong dates, and another is hopping a train to Slovenia to visit family and will come back a week or two later. So the next couple of days will be filled with kaesekriner, French fries and lots of walking before we head back on Thursday. I’ve had a great time, but I am looking forward to seeing my son again. I’ve missed him a lot. And now, some pictures.

We went to Krka National Park, which is about an hour or so away from Split in Croatia.


These were taken at the end of the day:


We are now in Split in Croatia. It is beautiful here. Today is supposed to be 75 and sunny, and I see lots and lots of sun. I am uploading photos in the hotel room while the husband takes some students to museums and other students lay out on the beach. Priorities.

In between now and the last time I wrote, we spent more time in Graz, went to a couple of buschenshanks (wineries basically), had some wonderful dinner with friends, hopped a private bus to Zagreb, and then yesterday hopped on a public bus for Split. Buses normally don't bother me, but I was not happy about being sandwiched into my seat for 5 hours. The 14 hour busride from Sarajevo makes me want to scream.

These are pictures taken from the Sattler Buschenshank, which is just outside of Graz:

 And these are from the Kieslinger Buschenshank, which is about 30 minutes into the countryside. It was fantastic. I got kinda artsy here.

Some wine was served in this - how lovely 

The Kieslinger buschenshank, which you can also stay in

Flowers for my Auntie Em

Wine and water for the two tables

Artistic wine shot

This is the kaeseplatte, a platter of spreads and cheese. Very tasty.

Dessert - yummy!

On the way home from Kieslinger: