Allen Chase is Professor of History at the QSI International School of Sarajevo. This Canadian has been living in Sarajevo with his wife and young son for three years now, and he shares some of his impressions of our city.
He says he first heard about Sarajevo while our city was under siege and that he came to know more about it from refugees who fled BiH and went to Canada in the 1990s. He has special memories of one couple from Sarajevo who ran a bakery where his family would buy their homemade bread.
Before coming here it was hard for him to imagine Sarajevo because, up to that time, he had only seen the terrible images of our city’s destruction in the media. For this reason, he was pleasantly surprised when he visited for the first time in 2003 while touring the Balkans. He says that it was a city where reconstruction was in full swing and, when he came again in 2013, he noticed many new buildings and the progress that was visible on every corner.
Many friends in Sarajevo
He likes the Old Town most because, as he walks along the streets of old Sarajevo, he has the feeling that he has gone back to the past. As for one of the city’s big advantages, he would cite the ease with which one can get around town and that most things can be done without having to use a car.
He describes Sarajevans as sociable people and says that kindness is definitely one of their virtues, especially toward children. He shares that he has made many friends in Sarajevo and he makes special mention of the ones he goes trout fishing with in Konjic.
Something that he has been pleasantly surprised by are the lovely manners that Sarajevans have, like when they say “prijatno” before starting to eat and when they greet foreigners as they enter shops and cafes.
On the other hand, smoking in public places has been the hardest thing for him to get used to, and it’s pretty bad when he goes out during the colder months, because there are very few places that have separate non-smoking sections.
His Sarajevo ritual consists of walking or running along the Miljacka River, usually on Wilson’s Promenade. He always looks forward to going to the restaurant, Bon Apetit, with his family, where they enjoy real hamburgers.
He likes to explore the little streets of Baščaršija with friends and often drops by a pub to enjoy some Sarajevo beer. His favorite place to drink tea or coffee is at Morića Han.
The advantage of Sarajevo lies in its size
When comparing Sarajevo to his own country, Allen insists that our city is far more suitable for walking than Canadian cities. He adds that the coffee drinking culture and enjoyment of socializing with people is what he misses most whenever he goes back to Canada.
However, when it comes to cleanliness or orderliness, he does think that Sarajevo could take a look at Canadian cities.
- The advantage of Sarajevo lies in its size, which enables one to meet acquaintances and friends while out for a stroll. As for shortcomings, the geographical position of the city makes it prone to serious air pollution, which is most felt during winter, he explains. He adds that Sarajevo’s symbols are the bridges that connect the banks of the Miljacka and that our city is like a bridge that connects East and West.
As for Bosnian specialties, he is fondest of ćevapi, especially those from Zmaj Ćevabdžinica and he considers Bosnian coffee a real treat.
Allen would recommend first-time visitors to thoroughly investigate the lesser known parts of town, to take Bosnian language classes and to go out in the evenings and to meet Sarajevans.