'Tram scam, thank-you ma'am'
20.03.2009 - 23.03.2009 -4 °C
From Mostar, we took a very beautiful train journey full of tunnels and switchbacks north to Sarajevo. After arriving at Sarajevo’s train station, we legged it to the tram line to get into town. Sarajevan tram scams are well documented and we’d have been a bit miffed if we weren’t exposed to one while we were there. We weren’t disappointed, though. No one at the tram stop seemed too keen on selling us a ticket and neither did the tram driver who waved us onto the tram and motioned for us to sit down as we tried to hand him money. Lo and behold, at the next stop a pair of ‘conductors’ get on the tram and demand our tickets. Unable to produce tickets, we were promptly turfed off the tram and ordered to pay 26 Bosnian convertible mark each ($26AUD). While the ‘conductors’ faked attempts to ring the police over our refusal to pay, our British friend from Mostar used his most persuasive and baffling English in the hope that they’d give up. Undeterred, the ‘conductors’ continued to pretend to call the police, at which point we decided that the best course of action was to take them with us to a police station, wait for an available police officer, wait for an English translator and hopefully waste enough of their time that they’d give up. None too keen on going to the police station or producing their ‘conductors’ identification, our ‘conductors’ backed off and we walked off. According to our hostel owner, what usually happens is that a bunch of tourists will get on a tram and the driver will refuse their money or motion for them to sit down. The driver will then ring his mates, the ‘conductors’, who then get on the tram at the next stop and inspect tickets. The driver then takes a cut out of any ‘fine’ that might be paid.
Though feeling slightly annoyed at then having to carry our bags all the way into town, we were pacified somewhat to find we’d been chucked off the tram in front of the Sarajevo Holiday Inn (home to the world’s journalists during the war) which we wouldn’t have noticed had we been on the tram.
Home to the world's journo's during the war
Sarajevo is a lovely city full of market stalls selling all manner of things from cotton to copper, lovely parks and rehabilitated buildings. War damage is still apparent in Sarajevo, though less so than Mostar. The city dwellers are very modern and the parks are full of men playing chess on giant chess boards on the ground.
Outdoor chess, snow and all
Possibly the biggest danger we faced in Sarajevo was death by falling icicle. Temperatures were consistently sub-zero and dumps of snow and huge chunks of ice were falling with massive thuds from the roofs of buildings.
Icicles cling to roof gutterings
Again, several new cemeteries have arisen throughout town and it’s desperately sad to read the headstones of so many young people.
Flowers punctuate the somber white expanses of Sarajevo's cemeteries, while cranes in the background continue the clean up effort
Sarajevo has some interesting museums, among them a dedication to the 1984 Winter Olympics and a museum of BiH history located at the spot from which Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, subsequently sparking the start of World War 1.
Site of the death of Franz Ferdinand
Bosnian food suits us well and cevapcici (little spicy sausages served with pita bread, onion and yoghurt) became a favourite very quickly. Likewise, the beer didn’t disappoint.
Leaving Bosnia and Herzegovina, we took the overnight train to Zagreb in Croatia.