Aug 31:  Sarajevo

I had a series of strange dreams.  The one I remember involved my birthday, and meeting LG, and having to meet my family for Mass at 2pm, and Keri Simpson questioning me about my beliefs.  Then I was driving with unknown passengers and a boy kept trying to get into the car, and I tossed him out.  Then when we parked, some street toughs accosted me and one broke my windshield with his fist, saying "don't you know that kid's not right."  Despite being awakened by the Islamic call to prayer (Bosnia is a Muslim country), I slept a good 10 hours.

I noticed as I was waking up that my heartbeat was slow.  I timed it and it was no more than 60 beats/min, which is normal for me (unless I just had a Mountain Dew or am otherwise excited), but I found it notable because the first couple mornings of the tour my heart was racing.  Those were the days I couldn't sleep.  That happens on every trip and I don't know why.

As I was leaving to meet the group at the eternal flame (which brought to mind the brief Acme stint of Clem Alulis, during which he professed his liking of the Bangles song), I chatted with the grandson of the pension owner.  I told him about my dream.  He said he also had a dream, about the war.  The Serbs were landing their helicopters at Skenderija.  He woke up and looked at his cell phone and the time was 2am, and he thought "fuck the war...I want to sleep."  His dream beats my dream.  He was born in 1992 but evidently remembers some stuff.

It was overcast and cooler today, after great weather for the first week of the tour.  No locals were wearing shorts.

Eternal flame, dedicated to Yugoslavia's WWII fighters.  The last part of the inscription translates as "time will not dim the glory of their deeds".  (I don't know what it really says, but the first person who identifies that quote will be recognized here.  Buz and the Baltimore guy from the Brazen Head--if neither of you knows this, you should hang your heads in shame.)

I noticed already that Bosnian girls were a little bit off compared to the Serbs.  Still quite spectacular compared to back home--maybe the average girl would be an 8 to 10 in LA.  Bosnian butts are ampler but still within range, the girls are shorter on average, many have piercing eyes (they don't avoid eye contact, so I know this) and a few have a distinctive look with a smooshed-up face, like that curly-haired azure-eyed mom who was sitting in the front of the tram yesterday.

The reason we were meeting at the flame was to take a tram out to Ilidza, an area with parks and hot springs and streams at the source of the Vrelo Bosna (River Bosna).  We saw people lounging near the river enjoying the hot springs unauthorizedly (I felt the warmth as we crossed the bridge and faintly smelled H2S) but the legitimate option was to soak in a naturally-heated bath of sulfur water in some building.  I declined this because I'd be in a small bath in a room by myself (I'd imagined a communal pool), and also figured I could generate my own naturally-heated bath of sulfur water whenever I want, so why pay for it.  This place also offered massages that a few in the group signed up for, but I lost all interest in massages after this.

We walked 3 km to a nice park.  Another option was to take a horse and carriage, but the whole point was the walk.  I wanted to make a Rusty comment about the horses, but that was too easy.  And I'm glad I held off because during the walk Gorana yelled back to the rest of the group to move aside for a horse, because one member of the group had a problem in one ear and might not have detected the horse.  I conveyed my delight at this one incident being linked to two Seinfeld episodes (George's "I love you" being the other).

We got to the park with streams so cold that vendors stored their beverages in them.  Gorana and a few others left to get their massages, and the remaining 9-10 of us had lunch.

I guess my note saying 9-10 people was wrong, because there are 10 people here plus me.  I had cevapi with kajmak again for lunch.  We intended to walk back along a slightly different path, but it started to rain quite a bit, so most of us took horses back because the carriages were covered.  Sure enough, our horse farted.  Rusty!

We took the tram back into town.  A hottie on the tram in a pink outfit and feather boa kept checking me out.  As she was getting off (the tram I mean) she gave me an extended final look.  I got a special feeling.

This first came up a few days ago but I wrote it down here:  The Serbian word for "thank you" is hvala, with a very soft h and a somewhat softened v.  Veronica initially pronounced it "koala".

Back from Ilidza, I strolled the old town with Jen, Cristy and Veronica.  I'm used to watching girls shop on these tours so I wasn't bored.

I managed to get one photo of Ferhadija.  This is in the Turkish quarter facing east.  Note the minaret--there were many.

Tomorrow was a completely free day and I'd wanted to take a trip to Mostar to see the famous bridge.  But Gorana told us it was a 2.5-hour bus ride each way, and we had to take the 7am bus otherwise the day would be wasted.  So I and a lot of people were reconsidering.  Seemed like a long trek to see a bridge that wasn't even the original bridge--it was rebuilt after being bombed in the '90s.  Cristy wanted to go because she'd once walked over the original bridge, but I was thinking maybe it would be better to catch up on sleep and explore Sarajevo, especially if it was raining.

Gorana improvised a special dinner for us.  The driver/conductor on the Belgrade-Sarajevo bus ride told her about a restaurant in the suburbs where we could feast upon a lamb on a spit.  We were driven out to this place in complimentary cars.  I was very tightly sandwiched between Jen and Gorana in the back seat.  Gorana asked if I had a girlfriend, and I quipped "I will by the end of this ride."  I didn't think it was much of a quip, but Gorana repeated it at dinner for everyone, so I'll repeat it here.

As for the lamb, it was more succulent than even I had hoped.  (Damn, I wish I hadn't already used that for the Peking duck.)  The platter of lamb I was sharing was somewhat lean, but then Veronica called attention to her platter, from which I took a nice meaty wedge.  This caused her to point and comment "he's got some nice meat here", to which I replied, obviously flattered, "why, thank you."  We saw a shepherd up in the hills, and I almost spit out my food when Hiedi wondered aloud if he was looking for his suddenly-missing lamb.  The very lamb I was eating.  Poor little Lam!  (Andy and Melanie--that's a joke involving you that only Oliver and I understand.  We can explain it to you if necessary.)  I had three 1/2-L beers and several pear drinks, which may have been rakija but I'm not sure.  I felt somewhat chatty after dinner.

It was revealed at dinner that Buz and Mary Tod were targeted again by pickpockets on the tram to Ilidza.  The thinking was that they looked too much like tourists.  Buz's backpack emblazoned with patches of all countries certainly doesn't help.

We took the tram back to the pension.  While waiting for the tram I declared that it was as cold as a witch's teat, and got no response at all.  And I had four songs stuck in my head simulmataneously:  Brick in the Wall (on the radio at the lamb dinner, and I'd previously thought of it as a justification for eating lots of cevapi and no vegetables--the meat/pudding thing), Hung Up (on the radio at Zeljo 1 and memorable from the Argentina-Uruguay ferry last year), Straight Up (also on the radio at the lamb dinner, and I heard it in the bar when I first met TJJ and admitted my devotion to American Idol), and Jeremy (because of Jeremy in our group, and because the last time I was in a Muslim country I had that situation with the Pear Jam).  I noticed along the ride (actually building on what I'd seen so far on the tour) that there are a lot of Baron Davis billboards in the former Yugoslavia.  It's basketball country.

Gorana informed us that Ostrog Monastery, where we'd be staying two nights hence, had no showers and that proper dress was required.  I made a note of this so that I'd remember to shower tomorrow night--didn't want to risk scheduling it for the morning of departure in the shared bathroom.  Also I made a note reminding myself to take a dump before Ostrog, because I hadn't in 2 days.  You know it's a good vacation when you're forgetting to poop.

We got to the hotel at 9:45pm and I went to bed at 10pm.  Only 5 people were planning to go to Mostar tomorrow, with the rest (including me) meeting for coffee at 9:30am.