February 2006

Why not air?

Since I’m traveling on a budget, flying is outrageous and out of the question for me. I did attempt to considerate this option as I planned my Christmas vacation, going to Prague. Flying would have saved me two days, but the air ticket’s holiday price would have slashed my saving to the bare-bone. I had a friend of mine to check out the Czech airline after my roommate, who was a Czech, recommended me: “My boss regularly flies this route, and it takes him only a few hours.” Only a few hours! Great! The Czech boss flies on his business account, so three or four hundred euros would be chump change to him. As of for me, OUCH! Then without another blink of an eye, I decided to get out of Sarajevo the same way I got in.


When I was staying in Europe for the first time, I met and made good friends with three Croatians among other friends. We were close, and I liked them enough that I said to one of them, “you know M., when I came back to Europe for the second time to visit you guys (I mean both the Croatians and the others), I’ll stop in Croatia first.” Indeed, I met those three Croatians first, in Zagreb, approximately a year after we fared way in Gliwice.

My making and meeting those friends have no significance to the purpose of this entry; I brought them up only to point out an alternative route other than air to Sarajevo.

Zagreb -> Sarajevo buses

I paid 35 euros for the one-way bus ticket at the main bus station in Zagreb. Unlike Sarajevo, the bus and the train station were no where near each other. I rode on the bus with the large blue “Croatian bus” texts on the side. The bus ride took about eight hours passing through Banja Luca, Zenica, and Travnik and a few others towns before arriving at the main bus station in Sarajevo.

I don’t give the bus schedule because this information is easy obtainable and subjected to changes. But please do plan ahead. When I say “ahead”, I really mean “way way ahead.” You’ll know what I meant in a split second.

Sarajevo->Zagreb buses

Thinking that the buses ZagrebSarajevo operated daily, I was not in a hurry to make any travel plan until five days before my supposedly departure. There were buses to Zagreb alright, but I totally forgot about the additional connecting route from Zagreb to Prague. During the holiday, these buses ran only once a week, on a Friday. No more Sarajevo->Zagreb buses. Oops! This oops took me to the third alternative route out of Sarajevo. (I like Sarajevo; there is no doubt about it. But sometimes I just need to get out, quick!)


The Eurolines’ round-trip ticket cost 129KM, a fair deal. The trip took a longsome 14 hours through Croatia and Slovenia. I normally did not mind long trip if people would just have left me alone on my seat, feeling sorry for my sore butt. But no, in Slovenia and Austria, people had to get out and lined up to show passports/visas at the border.

“Well, because this is Slovenia (and later Austria), that’s why.” Some woman on the bus explained to me when I asked her the reasons.

The bus station in Vienna is next to the main train station at Sud-Banhoff. To get to any other European cities from there is a non-hassle process and I will not mention here because this information is irrelevant to Sarajevo.




The first meal I had in the city was the chicken sandwich or sandwich “sa piletinom” at Piceriza Pomodorino on Branilaca Sarajeva Street, behind the main street walk. The sandwich is pocket pita bread stuffed with chicken and some white cream I had trouble distinguished. I came from an extensive sauce-flavored dish culture, thus if being asked, I can pick out one or two sauces. As for creams or dairy products, please just let me eat them and do not ask me identify them. The combination of the warm thin bread, grilled chicken, fatty cream, and my empty stomach from the previous eight-hour bus ride from Zagreb made the small sandwich excellent. I later found out from the locals that this place had the best sandwich in town. Nonetheless, that was the only time I ate there. Since then, either I got lost finding my way there or it was closed when I was lucky enough to stumble upon it. It’s ironic, isn’t it? I blog this entry to show people how to get to a place which I have trouble finding.

Life is full of ironies, people. Get used to it!

How to get there?

On the Coca-Cola’s red advertising, the name Pomodorino is almost invisible among the double-sized Coca-Cola text. You have more luck if you locate the Serbian church on Branilaca Sarajeva and walk westward from it for a few more steps. Keep your eyes on the right side until you see a Coca-Cola sign at the top of the entrance, left of HVB Central Banka.

Category: Eating

Sub-category: Sandwich, chicken sandwich

To having in your hands a ready-to-use mobile phone

1. Purchase the phone (you can skip this step if you’ve already own a phone as I did. I brought with me the cell phone from America. Make sure though that phone is unlocked to use the Sim card from a different provider.) I recomend bringing a cell phone from your country. Cell phones here are expensive, ranging from 130Km to 1300KM.

· Phone shops: There are many of these shops in the city center and shopping malls.

· Eronet shops: If you use the service from Eronet Phone Company, then you have to buy the phone from their own shops. My knowledge of Eronet’s shops stops here since all the people I know use the service from Telecom BiH.

· Black markets: Make friends with some locals and ask them to take you to one of these markets. New phones sometimes can be half-priced because you don’t have to pay taxes.

2. Get a number

The only place you can get a number is from the post office. You pay a one-time connection fee of 35km and receive a SIM card with a 10km worth of calling minutes.

3. Purchase a phone card

Phone cards’ prices range from 10km, 20km, 50km, and 100kms, they are available in kiosks or traffika scattering everywhere in the city. I only use the cell phone to send SMS, which costs only 0.1km per message. When your credits run out, simply buy a new phone cards. To check for the credit, enter *100# and hit the key which starts the call.

Major phone companies

  • Telecom BiH, a Bosniak owned company
    • Prefix number: 061 and 062
  • Eronet, a Croatian owned company
    • Prefix number: 063 and 064
  • Mobis, a Serbian owned company
    • Prefix number: 065

If you plan to use the phone to call people and businesses in the city, it is better that you subscribe to the service provided by Telecom BiH. The Bosniak population carries a whopping 90% in this city and more likely to use Telecom BiH. You will pay less if you’re in the same network with them.

Last words:

I don’t like the European mobile-phone service because, compared the American’s counterpart, they are much more expensive and limited in options. Calling rate is expensive, but on the plus side, you pay absolutely nothing receiving calls. And this, my friends, is beyond the sweetness of the baklava.