Jim heard about Sarajevo for the first time in 1984 during the XIV Winter Olympic Games. He was 15 at the time and he vividly remembers how magical Sarajevo looked on TV, with the aerial footage that had been made from a helicopter.
He came here for the first time during the Siege, in February 1995, to take part in projects which were helping children and youth. He entered the city via Mt. Igman and at that time, the ruined roofs which were covered in snow, seemed like the ones he had seen on TV in 1984.
Today Sarajevo looks far more magical than he could have ever imagined and, in his words, TV footage makes it look far less compact than it really is.
Although it’s hard for him to single one thing out about Sarajevo, since there are many things that he likes!, it’s the people of Sarajevo that come before anything else, with their sense of humor, kindness and courage, all of which inspire him.
Aside from their great sense of humor, Jim finds them brave, great romantics, excellent storytellers and true hosts. On the other hand, though, Sarajevans often tend to be impatient, superstitious, passive and pessimistic.
Jim says that Sarajevo is more exotic, smaller and prettier than his hometown of Glasgow, but the mentalities of people are quite similar; both of them love to joke around and enjoy socializing.
While living in Sarajevo, Jim has gained many friends. Most of these friendships date back to the time of the Siege, showing that here one can enjoy solid and lasting friendships.
Although he’s been living in Sarajevo for almost 20 years, there are still things that Jim has not yet grown accustomed to. One is to sip coffee slowly, and he still wonders why people put ketchup on pizza!
Having lived here for so long, Jim has acquired his own Sarajevo ritual – he really enjoys taking walks early on Sunday mornings, when he does his photography. He usually drinks his coffee and brandy in Boris Smoje Gallery and he likes to eat at the restaurant, Kod Spomenka, above Čavljak, where, as he says, they serve the best scrambled eggs in the world.
Jim points out that Sarajevo’s advantage is its proximity to breathtaking mountains, as well as the beautiful Adriatic Sea, both of which are close at hand. He thinks that the city’s greatest shortcoming is that it is not well connected to the rest of Europe.
“Although, for most people, Sebilj is a symbol of Sarajevo, for me it’s Vijećnica,” says Jim, adding that he sees it as a miracle of art and architecture, and he is very glad that it has regained its former glory.
For those who come to Sarajevo for the first time, Jim suggests getting to know the people of Sarajevo. He also advises that they wear a helmet when riding a bike, and once they are bored with Sarajevo ćevapi, they should try Banjalučki ćevapi.
For tourists, he recommends a visit to the old town and the city center, as well as to Vraca and the old Jewish cemetery. They should also look for old, wooden mosques hidden up in the hillside neighborhoods and pay a visit to the Historical Museum of BiH, then Čavljak, Nahorevo and Umoljani....
In closing, he recommends everyone to walk through the tunnel in Ciglane, because he believes that only then can one truly experience Sarajevo.