FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Back to Sarajevo

Posted in Bosnia, Sarajevo by folkestonejack on October 22, 2011

Our drive to Sarajevo was expected to take about three to three and a half hours. Once we manoeuvred our way out of the station grounds we followed the approximate route of the narrow gauge railway for a short distance, noting the old railway tunnel that has since been converted to a road tunnel. Our route took us down towards the river Drina where we got a good view of the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge before continuing on the road to Sarajevo.

On the road to Sarajevo

The route was especially beautiful as we drove in and out of modern tunnels along one side of the river valleys, whilst trying to make out the route of the old narrow gauge line to Sarajevo (and another old road) on the opposite side. The old routes could just be made out from the abandoned tunnels and ledges lurking amidst the stunning scenery. It really does impress upon you the lost tourist opportunity in the 1970s when the railway closed (which ran with steam until the last day). It seems all the more strange as this was precisely the time that the authorities were turning to tourism to support the economy.

The drive took a little longer than usual as a tunnel was under construction on the approach to Sarajevo, which diverted us over an especially foggy hilltop with ridiculous hairpin bens and zig-zags. It was no wonder that we saw quite a few accidents along the way. Finally at 8pm we arrived at our hotel in Sarajevo.

Around 18 months ago I had stayed at the Hotel Hollywood at the beginning of a FarRail tour to Bosnia so in theory it should have seemed familiar but in that time it seemed to have gone through quite a transformation. Since my last stay the place appears to have added conference halls, an extra wing, an internet cafe and completely re-arranged the restaurant facilities. It also presented me with the most lurid wallpaper I have ever seen in a hotel – a picture of a giant asteroid crashing to earth no less! Most importantly though, it provided a comfortable bed to crash out on and for once I knew that I could wake up to a relatively relaxed morning. It was time to go home.

A tip: If you ever find yourself staying at Hotel Hollywood you will find that the sprawling building is hopelessly un-integrated. In the reception area there are lifts to each wing, round the corner from each other, but as there is seemingly no connection between the wings you will never find your room if you take the wrong lift…

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