I woke up this morning feeling much better. After breakfast I spent some time sorting out my bags and catching up with the blog.
At 10am was a compulsory new riders meeting. A bit painful when you have done a number of rides already. Then it was bike checks to ensure all our bikes are in good working order. After that we had the rest of the day to ourselves.
I was interested in getting to understand a bit more of the history of Sarajevo, especially the siege that lasted from April 1992 to February 1996. Plus I wanted to go and see the tunnel. We booked a tour to go and see the tunnel, meeting in town at 2pm. While we were waiting we had a look around the old town and had some lunch.
There are a number of complex reasons and background history to the war, but in summary the war started because the Serbs and the Croats living in Bosnia wanted to divide it amongst themselves. The Bosnian population is predominantly made up of Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims).
The overall death toll on all sides of the war was 10,000.
There were atrocities on all sides, including genocide and the Srebrenica massacre where 8,500 men and boys were slaughtered.
The siege of Sarajevo lasted 3 and half years, the city had no power, was running out of food, and no heating with winters that reach up to minus 20 degree C.
3 of the 4 hillsides were held by enemy forces . The 4th hill side could only be gotten to by across the airport, which was controlled by the UN. Crossing there the snipers would shoot at anyone they saw.
There were 10,000 people, killed 1,400 of them children, in the siege of Sarajevo. The snipers on the hillside would shoot anything that moved in the city, and on average 300 shells were fired at the city daily. Over 20 years later there are shell holes in numerous buildings, and many ruined buildings still waiting destruction or repair. The main route through the city was known as sniper alley.
Coming into Sarajevo, still plenty of evidence of the siege (Photo credit: Brett’s Facebook page)
A tunnel was built under the airport to the hillside. This tunnel was also referred to as the tunnel of hope. It was constructed from March to June 1993. The tunnel was dug 24 hours a day, in shifts of 8 hours each. 2,800 square meters of dirt had to be disposed of in such a way that it was not noticed by the Serbs up on the hillside.
The tunnel was referred to as the Trojan horse of Bosnia. It allowed food, guns and medical supplies to be bought in. Also a pipeline of oil and electricity. There were over a million trips. Each journey took two hours, and the height of the tunnel meant the majority of people could not stand up straight in it.
The tour guide gave the history of the siege and the tunnel. Most of the tunnel is now collapsed, but we got to go in a 20 metre section that still exists. I had to stoop, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be in it for two hours, laden down with stuff.
After the tour Brett and I stopped and had a cold beer, and we shared a Bosnian sandwich, which is bread with a selection of meat, cheese, and coleslaw. It was very nice.
Back at the hotel I was feeling very tired, so had a nap for a couple of hours. Then we walked to a couple of restaurants, but we had not realised Ramadan had finished and it was the start of 3 days feasting, so they were all booked. Instead we stopped at a small supermarket and bought some stuff for a picnic back at the hotel.
After packing the bag, it was time for an early night. I am feeling a bit intimidated by the thought of riding 135km, with 2000 meters climbing, tomorrow.
Links from Kaye about the Seige: