Guide to SKOPJE

Cheers, ba!


I don’t drink coffee, but I am known to be a good coffee maker, especially when it comes to “Turkish” coffee. However, here in Bosnia, everybody starts their day with a “Bosnian” coffee. Basically, it is Turkish coffee and after it is ready they add hot water to fill up the pot. Usually, a copper pot is used. After you’ve had your first coffee the day can begin. Fortunately, these past few days in Sarajevo we’ve had some lovely sunny weather.

My friend Nihad and I go down to Bascarsija to taste the best burek in the world. Here in Bosnia what they call burek is only the meat filled pastry, and the other variants are called pita: sirnica if it is filled with cheese, zeljanica if it is filled with spinach. And burek? Burek is exclusively made with meat. It is sold measured in grams and I must admit that it is the best I have tried in my life. I could hardly eat 300 grams while Nihad remembered his record of 1 kg of burek he once had.

Besides the well-known and recognizable gastronomic delights, you must try the appetizers from Badem boutique. It is a small kingdom of flavours: chocolate-coated almonds, hazelnuts, chickpeas with different chocolate tastes to traditional Bosnian lokum. These appetizers are definitely a must-try.

Citizens of Sarajevo are famous for drinking a lot of coffee and the city has many cafeterias, coffee bars… What made a big impression on me are, as I call them, “theme coffee bars”. I had salep in Bascarsija in the House of  Sevdah (Kuca Sevdaha)  which is also a museum of sevdah, where the melancholic sounds of sevdalinka, “Bosnian blues”, greet you at the entrance.

Innovation and consistency in the interior design of these bars is what made a great impression on me. Many of them are on the tourist map of the city and a must-see for all the people who visit Sarajevo. There is a coffee bar whose interior is completely made up of antiques with attention to every little detail, so you can travel through time while you are having a cup of coffee.

In Bascarsija you can have tea or coffee in the Fragrance of Quince (Miris Dunja) where the sweet aroma of quinces set on each table overwhelms the senses.

There is one special place for all tourists who come from the countries of former Yugoslavia and for foreigners who are familiar with the work and character of Josip Broz Tito. This coffee bar is situated at the back of the History Museum which used to be Museum of the Revolution, and its theme is Tito.

Everything is in the context of his life and work. In the garden there are military museum pieces from Tito’s time: off-road vehicles, tanks, howitzers…all of different origin. There used to be a helicopter standing there but now the propeller is the only thing that’s left of it. Apparently, it was stolen and sold as scrap metal.

The interior is also very specific. You can see original photographs of Tito, guns from World War II and a typical iconography of those days. They have paid attention to every tiny detail so even the lights above the bar are made of German helmets.

It’s lunch time. It is my first visit to Sarajevo which means that I have to try famous Bosnian kebabs. Tourists and those not so well-informed usually have kebabs in Bascarsija in kebab restaurant “Zeljo”, but a local person, such as my guide, will recommend “Mrkva”, another kebab restaurant also located in Bascarsija.

I believe it was the right choice. Kebabs were delicious. They are always served with onions and pita bread, and Sarajevsko beer is mandatory. There is a funny anecdote about “Mrkva” restaurant. When first McDonald’s fast food restaurant was opened here they sent 200 kebabs at the opening ceremony to wish McDonald’s a warm welcome to Sarajevo.

After my first Sarajevsko beer it was the right time to have another one. “Rock theatre” served as base camp during my stay inSarajevo. It is a coffee bar that only plays music, the walls are covered with photographs of rock bands, original records with autographs from famous musicians and other memorabilia. An entire wall is dedicated to Sarajevo rock scene which used to be very popular in Yugoslav times. You can see photographs and autographs by “Zabranjeno Pusenje”, “Bijelo Dugme”, “Indeksi”, Tifa, “Bombaj Stampa”, Zdravko Colic etc… There is another wall dedicated to YU-rock scene and a large section for world rock.

I meet Jasmin, the owner of “Rock Theatre” and the man who personally branded each piece in this time machine. In our long conversation I learn he lovesMacedoniavery much and has wonderful memories from Skopje where he served in the army in the 1980s.

With EKV playing “Sarajevo” in the background, I make a toast with Sarajevsko beer and invite you to visit this city, to let your ears hear and eyes see what they have not heard and seen before… and you shall return for more. Sarajevo promises you this!

Cheers, ba!

Jordan Dukov