Cat Norman

Sevdah is the soul of Sarajevo!

Cat Norman is a photographer and owner of the Sarajevo hostel, The Doctor’s House. This young American has lived in China, Nigeria, the Czech Republic and Germany, but she fell in love with Sarajevo and decided to stay.


She first heard about our city while living in Berlin. The stories she heard from the Balkan diaspora got stuck in her imagination, so she wanted to get to know this area better.

She was traveling around the Balkans looking for the perfect spot to open a hostel and finally made it in Sarajevo.

Before her visit, she had expected to find the “wild” Balkan life, like one sees in movies, like Underground, but she was pleasantly surprised to come upon a laid-back European city nestled among the mountains.

She says that she started to feel at home in Sarajevo from the very start. She can’t point to what it was, exactly, that enchanted her. Was it the lovely mountains, the call for prayer, the people singing along with tambur orchestras…? Whatever it was, she says that she isn’t the only one who feels a sense of belonging to Sarajevo – it happens often to the guests at her hostel, as well.

Cat has made many friends while living in our city and she has found the love of her life, a man she plans to marry in June. She laughs when saying that she has traveled almost all the whole world only to end up finding her true love in Sarajevo!

She describes Sarajevans as happy people who are full of interesting stories and whose specific humor can fix even one’s worst day.

What has surprised her most about our city is the “mahala” phenomenon and the fact that rumors spread at such unbelievable speed that sometimes she feels like her neighbors know what she is planning to do next even before she does!

She has found it hard to get used to the complicated administrative procedures and that you always need another “stamp”. Long winters with lots of snow is another thing that has been hard to get accustomed to.

Her Sarajevo ritual includes Sunday visits to the flea market in Stup and she enjoys walking around Sarajevo’s hills. She often stops off at the mountain house, Kod Dragana, on her way to Skakavac Waterfall.

Cat takes great pleasure in Bosnian food because, as she says, the dishes are simple, delicious and made with lots of love. Her favorite specialties are šarena dolma with fresh somun (bread) and uštipci (fritters) with kajmak.

She believes that Sarajevo’s greatest advantage lies in the fact that such a small city has so much to offer. She adds that the rich culture and history, a variety of places to shop and tons of restaurants and cafés are just some of the good things about living in Sarajevo.

She also praises the fact that there is some incredible nature so close to the city.

If Cat had to choose a symbol of our city, it would be sevdah, which she says represents the soul of Sarajevo.

She recommends that first-time visitors stay two days longer than planned because Sarajevo has much more to offer than what they might initially expect.

She also recommends a visit to Skakavac Waterfall, the mythical pyramids in Visoko or simply chilling out with a coffee and watching passersby.

Cat closes our conversation with the following: The view from Žuta Tabija (The Yellow Fortress) is not to be missed, nor is a visit to Kino Bosna on Mondays.