Saturday, February 05, 2011

Getting to Mt. Bjelasnica

Isaac and Eleanor wound up their January vacation with skiing lessons at Mt. Bjelasnica. We decided to join them, in a mini-ski vacation, for the last two days before school started.

The ski resorts in Sarajevo are all very close to town. Depending on where you live, it takes only twenty to forty minutes to drive there (reminds me a lot of Salt Lake City that way). We had been to Jahorina nine years ago in an ill-fated trip (a story for another day), but we didn't know how to get to Bjelasnica. David conferred with the ski teacher. "It's easy," he reassured David. "You know how to get to Vraca, right? It's just past there."

"So I can just follow signs from Vraca?" said David.

"Well, no," he said. The reason turned out to be, as so many things are here, political.

The Dayton Peace Accords established peace in 1995 by granting ethnic Serbs their own mini-state within Bosnia. It is known as Republika Srpska. It is largely autonomous--has its own school system, its own set of regulations, its own licensing rules. It has much closer ties to Belgrade, Serbia than any other parts of Bosnia. Signs tend to be in Cyrillic, like in Serbia, instead of in Roman letters as in the rest of Bosnia.

Once you drive past Vraca, you're in the Republika Srpska section of Sarajevo. You drive for a few minutes in Republika Srpska and then back out of it into Bosnia and onto Mt. Bjelasnica. The ski resort Jahorina is in another part of the Republika Srpska. So the road after Vraca is basically on the slope of to Mt. Bjelasnica, there are no signs directing you to Mt. Bjelasnica. All the signs direct you to Jahorina (or to Belgrade!--Beograd).

You just have to know the way to Bjelasnica.

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