Borger came to know Sarajevo while covering the last war for the BBC and the Guardian. He has poured all of his experience with the Balkans into his book, The Butcher’s Trail, which offers a chronological account of the pursuit and capture of war criminals from the Balkans who were accused by the ICTY at the Hague.
He says that he first heard about Sarajevo as it related to the Assassination of Franz Ferdinand, which triggered WWI, while he was a schoolboy, but it was curiosity journalism that brought him here.
Every corner and street has a story to tell
- My first impression of the city was during another war, during the '90s, while driving over Igman to the airport, which was the only way to reach Sarajevo at that time.
Julian has come to learn a lot about our city, and he believes that every corner and street has a story to tell.
- The Tunnel of Hope is a must-visit, as it offers a glimpse of events from recent history.
He loves local food, Baščaršija and Sarajevans, as well as their jokey cynicism that is mixed with an undefeated romanticism.
Julian has a set Sarajevo ritual: he finds a good spot for coffee in Baščaršija, where the architecture of the old mosques and caravanserai still convey an atmosphere reminiscent of the Ottoman period.
Then he goes for a walk along Obala Kulina Bana and follows the Miljacka to Buybook, on Radićeva, where he likes to read a newspaper or book, then he heads back to Baščaršija for ćevapi.
He points to Petica Ferhatović as having the best ćevapi in town, and he takes his with onions, kajmak and ajvar.
Perfect combination of ajvar and ćevapi
- I know there are many who don't agree with a combination like ajvar with ćevapi, but I think it's perfect, says Julian.
In the evening, he tries to find a spot with good music.
Julian says that Sarajevans are well-read, cultured and have a wary humor tempered by a hard and brutal realism, and this is exactly what makes the city so special.
- Sarajevo is no ordinary place. This is a city whose setting is breathtaking; in some places the architecture is brutal, but this hasn’t detracted from its charm.
As for those who may be thinking of visiting, Julian recommends BiH’s capital with the following:
- If there is any place in Europe one should visit, not just to understand, but to feel the heartbeat of the continent's history, it is Sarajevo.