Monday, 15 February 2010

Balkan Bonus.

Friday 12th February.
With reading week approaching Stef and I set off to Bosnia for our long planned research trip. The next phase of a project to try and dramatise Miljenko Jergovic's Sarajevo Marlboro short stories sometime later this year.

Our early morning flight connection to Munich was due to leave at 6am. We stayed up overnight and caught a cab to the airport only to find that Bavarian snow had led to a cancellation. With all subsequent flights booked up with half term skiers and their families, Lufthansa were left with a mob of tired and grumpy passengers to deal with.

Eventually after a four hour wait slumped over our suitcases we reached the front of the queue and were immediately dispatched in a taxi to Gatwick to try and catch the 10.15 Croatian Airways flight to Zagreb, which would then connect later in the evening with Sarajevo. Only problem was we had just an hour and a half to get round the M25 at the height of rush hour, check in our bags and negotiate security. The harassed ticket officer assured us it was possible and chucked in £20 of food vouchers to keep us going.

Somehow, despite the road works, the bag drop woman sharing her nervous breakdown with us, a snarled 'you'll never make it!' from the man checking the boarding cards, the ritual removal of belts and boots for the metal detectors and a long sprint down the corridor to the departure gate, we did it with seconds to spare. Exhausted we collapsed onto the plane and only woke two hours later when we bumped down on a snowy runway the opposite end of Europe.

So without meaning or planning we were in Croatia with six hours to wait. We changed some Euros for Kuna and headed into town.

Deep in Winter, Zagreb felt like a picture postcards full of statues of equestrian knights, modest squares and gabled houses with icicles hanging. It was all rather beautiful. We caught a tram to Ban Jelacic Square and walked up to the Kaptol where the body of a cryogenically frozen bishop lay mournfully in state. Over the road the Dolac market was closing up for the day so we found our way to a bar on Tkalciceva and watched the clock over a couple of very tasty beers before making our way back to the airport for the final short leg of a long day. Our host Mumo was waiting for us and finally, twenty hours after leaving home, we were welcomed to Sarajevo.

1 comment:

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