best way from western europe to sarajevo is a direct flight. or if you want some fun, take the train or drive. Driving from Paris to Sarajevo will take approx. 24 hours if you don’t really stop. But with gas prices being what they are this isn’t cheap. Otherwise, just fly and rent a car in Sarajevo. Booking ahead by internet or phone will probably save you money — you know how it is with car rentals. You don’t need to hire a driver, just a car. A good road map of Bosnia will show even the dirt roads. No visa needed for US or EU citizens.
Regarding fixers, you can probably get a good one through the Sarajevo AP office, but someone good and experienced won’t be cheap. If you just need translation, going to the university and hiring an English major will be cheap. But they’ll be young, won’t remember the war, and won’t know the area.
Unfortunately Sarajevo didn’t have cheap places to stay the last time I was there (2002), situation might be better now…look in the newest Lonely Planet or internet or just ask around to rent a room in a family’s apartment or house.
The hotels in the countryside aren’t that cheap for what you get, which won’t be much. And since Eastern Bosnia was never a tourist zone, staying with a family may be unusual for people there.
The ATMs in Sarajevo will spit out “convertible marks” (1:1 to the old DM and therefore about half a euro), that’s the easiest way to deal with cash. Euros are accepted everywhere, too, but you might get change in convertible marks. Major credit cards will be accepted at places in sarajevo, but maybe not in the sticks. Your western european cell phone should work, albeit with roaming charges. so you may want to get a prepaid GSM chip for your phone if you’re there for a long time.
no one bothers any more, but if you really want, i believe you can still get the SFOR press credentials at the press center in the old Marshal Tito barracks…this info. may be outdated by now.
it is safe, usually, to drive at night, and the IEBL (Inter-entity boundry line) which separates Muslim/Croat Bosnian Federation from Serb Republika Srbska has become invisible, but get a map that shows it, nonetheless.
Entry/exit into all surrounding countries, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, should be visa free or visa at point-of-entry as well.
there are still plenty of abandoned houses and buildings especially in eastern bosnia where you’re going, exercise the usual caution as some of these places may still be mined or have unexploded ordanance. but otherwise the war has been over for so long at this point (10 years!) that anyplace travelled is OK.
18 Apr 2005 08:04