October 09, 2004

The Sartour Hostel


The Sartour Hostel is one of a few fledgling hostels that has opened up in Sarajevo. They don't have a lot of guests outside the summer, so on arrival in Sarajevo I had to call them to be picked up., as their reception was closed. The guy who picked me up was a very talkative fellow, although a bit odd. He seemed concerned that people had the false impression that the train station was very far from the town centre, when actually it was quite close.
I wasn't sure why this was that important, but he talked about it for twenty minutes, nethertheless.
Abbie the Australian had decided to stay at the hostel also, and on the night we arrived, it turned out that we were the only two guests in the whole place. The check-in process took an excruciatingly long amount of time, mostly due to the fact that the guy at the hostel couldn't stop talking.
Although he did tend to go on a bit, at least a fair amount of stuff he talked about was interesting, and over the two days I was there, I learned that before the war, mixed marriages between Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks were very common in Sarajevo, and that sadly now, they were not nearly so common. He was a Bosniak, with a Serbian girlfriend, and I guess this topic was quite personal to him. He was about 12 years old when the war started, and had been in Sarajevo the whole time, with the shells raining down for four years.
The second day in the hostel, Abbie left, and I was all alone in the entire building. The third night, a party of 25 Italians arrived, and although they knew they were coming, they still seemed to be able to mess up the arrangments, requiring me to change beds at 10pm.
The two guys running it were pretty friendly, but they seemed a bit disorganised, and unsure of what was going on. A couple of times I returned to find myself locked out, which was quite annoying.
I noticed that although the bed prices were pretty cheap, (12 euros without linen, 15 euros with linen) they had a charge of ten euros per day for using the kitchen, which seemed pretty outrageous really. Maybe electricity is very expensive in Sarajevo.
Finally, I would suggest that they brush up on their knowledge of the practicalities of Sarajevo. They knew all about the culture and the history, but were unable to tell me when any buses or trains departed, or even an approximate cost. They also told me that it was a 20 minute walk to the train station, and that the trams start running at 6am. It took 45 minutes to walk to the station, and I walk very quickly. As I walked, I saw a tram picking up some people at 5.35am.
Still, despite the comedy organisation and information, it's still a cheap, pleasant place to stay, and from what I've heard the competition is not up to much anyway!

Posted by paul at October 9, 2004 04:43 PM