The Road to Sarajevo - Part 2 of "You can't get there ..."

10 pm Friday night. We've been on the road 12 hours, minus 3 hours or so of bathroom breaks, lunch, gas-fillup, but still ... 12 hours on the road. We are 20 Kilometers from Sarajevo and we pull into a gas station to make sure we're on the right road to Sarajevo. By chance, a policeman was at the station and said, "Yes, but you can't go any further. There's been a rock-slide on this road and no buses are allowed to pass."

Once I got this translated from Serbian/Bosnian, I could only laugh at this point. And laugh I did - a bit too much I think. At this point, what else could I do but laugh at the one-two-three-four "punch" we've been getting on this particular journey.

I immediately explained to the students what I was laughing about - and most of them joined me! As one told me, "better to laugh than to cry."

And still, we had an easy "Plan B" - take the winding, less-traveled road that would take about an hour (instead of the 20 minutes). So, in reality, no real obstacles from our goal - Sarajevo! After filling up with waters, sodas, chocolates, "etc.", we got on the bus and turned it into a rolling party - laughing, loud/bizarre music ("world music" played by Dragan 1 and enjoyed by our American, Albanian, British, Serbian, Malaysian, Spanish students ... ), and watching as we drove at 11 pm on this winding road, in pitch-black (but for our headlights), and applauding when we saw the lights of Sarajevo ahead.

We got here. That's the point. We got here safely, securely, and with rear-ends and backs and legs sore, but we're here! For whatever reason, Yiannis and I were not in the same hotel as the students. We were told we'd be "within walking distance" from the hotel and that we'd be "in a 5-Star hotel!" Okay, sounds great to us! We got the students all settled into their new, bright, clean, comfortable 3-Star hotel (the "Hayat"! I kid you not. Hayat, not Hyatt) We were placed in a taxi - "because of the luggage" we were told. i.e., but for the luggage, we supposedly could have walked!

Ha! The jokes continued - and now that the students were secured in their hotel, I was no longer laughing. Our "5-Star" Hotel Saraj ("Sarajevo" minus the "evo") was 10 minutes by car (so not "walking distance") and we walked into the seedy lobby and I said, either to myself or to Yianni - "this ain't no 5-star hotel!"

We got into the rooms (rooms 201 and 202, which are on the 3rd floor) and I nearly exploded. I called Dragan and told him we would sleep here (or try), i.e., we had to get some sleep. It was not 1 am. But we would be checking out tomorrow morning (i.e., in about 15 minutes from this writing) and going back to the students' hotel. We want to be with them, or close to them. And we need a decent hotel. By that time, I had called the front desk and asked "is this a 5-star hotel?" "No. It's 3" came the reply. I told the receptionist "thanks, I was mis-informed by my travel agent." (or perhaps someone was playing a joke on us ... as they have since we attempted to "re-enter" Serbia "proper" from Kosovo).

Dragan (last night) promised that he would rectify this. He would find a "luxurious 4-star hotel" near the students and in the old Turkish city within the city center. He said that he, too, was "misinformed" - but he was misinformed by his own people. I was misinformed by him.

Again, all in all, things are great. Sarajevo is beautiful. The only good thing about this hotel that I have found is the view of Sarajevo. I'm about to discover more. We (all the students and we) have a meeting at noon in the city center. We're meeting a Bosnian Serb who fought in the wars (on Tuesday we'll meet a Bosnian Muslim who fought, probably fought against the guy we'll meet today). And let's hope that my next blog is from a "luxurious 4-star" (or more important, a clean hotel that is close to the students!)

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