On this same trip in 2008 I hitchiked through the Julian Alps and into Croatia, Serbia and eventually into Bosnia.
Bosnia was one of those places that I entered with no expectations. I had not heard many stories from others who had traveled there, and didn’t seem to meet many travelers that would have been able to give me the lowdown.
This is one of the best parts of rolling solo.
I took a sleeper train from Serbia into Sarajevo. The minute I stepped onto my car, I knew the train would be empty. The concierge showed me to my room and left to get me some blankets and a pillow. I could smell cigar smoke in the air. This was good.
Once the train was moving and it was apparent that I was the only one in this car, I grabbed my flask of rakija and a couple of cigars and went to find the concierge. He was in his little room sitting at a table listening to the radio and smoking a small cigar. On the table was the typical plastic cup seen all over the Balkans and used for everything from coffee to hard liquor.
I offered him a cigar and he accepted and motioned for me to sit on his bed. We lit up the cigars and I pulled out the flask and made the offer of filling his cup. He nodded and threw the remains of what was left in his cup out the window.
The rakija burned as it went down but it worked the magic of putting two strangers at ease.