This morning we woke to find it raining and sometimes very heavily. This was disappointing but not surprising as we had looked at the weather forecast before deciding on this side trip to Sarajevo. So in anticipation of the days exploration of the old city of Sarajevo in the rain we dressed in our best Washington rain gear, light clothing under Gortex jacket and pants.
After a 15km tram ride we arrived at Pigeon squareem> a land mark spot in the old city to be greeted by torrential rain and water flowing over the ground. Not a good start to the day. The purchase of a cheap umbrella from one of the many street vendors made things a little better and we went about the business of sightseeing. We went to the place were Arch Duke Ferdinand was assassinated, looked at a number of the famous mosques, and the clock tower. The streets of the old town are really set up for the tourist trade with cafes and souvenir shops dominating the area. But today they were not doing much business as there seemed to be few tourists. We ducked in to a couple of cafes during the morning in an effort to stay dry and get warm as we noticed it seemed to be getting colder and then around lunch time the rain turned to snow. The first of the season for us and I guess a sign of winter's coming.
As it turned out the snow would make the remainder of the day a bit cold and miserable as we had dressed for 50°F (10°C) and rain not 34°F (1°C) and snow.
We spent the afternoon first at a small display (in a tourist office) that gave a brief history and overview of the Siege of Sarajevo. I had not realized that it lasted so long a total of 1434 days. Over 11,000 people from the city were killed and 50,000 injured by the shelling and sniper fire during the siege.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon on a tour of the Sarajevo tunnel. Built during the siege to allow the supply of extra food, fuel and defensive materials to the besieged city. It was a bit difficult to understand the why and how of this tunnel until we saw a map during the tour. Serb forces has surrounded the city except for a narrow alley at the eastern end of the city. Right in the middle of that narrow alley was Sarajevo International Airport. The Airport was controlled by the UN troops called UNPROFOR (for UN Protective Force) whose instructions were to allow humanitarian aid but not war materials into the city. Hence that eastern corridor was denied to the Serbian troops besieging the city (and hence prevent them from fully encircling Sarajevo) but also denied the Bosnians a route and supply line into Croatia. Hence the tunnel was built under the airport thus bypassing the UN troops and providing an important supply line.
All in all an interesting afternoon that would have been more enjoyable had we not been shivering.