Andreas has no classes on Wednesdays. This gives us a chance to do the kinds of touristy things that induce massive eye-rolling when suggested to the teenager. While the cat’s at school, the mice hit the museums.
This Wednesday we had to walk over to Stari Grad, the old city, to pay our monthly water and electric bill. It’s a pleasant ritual. Our landlady Valida invites us to come in the middle of the day, when breakfast at her Halvat Guest House is over and the guests are all out seeing Sarajevo. Valida serves us tea or Bosnian coffee, and we have an entertaining chat about any and everything before finally getting down to the business of bills. We can happily while away the better part of an afternoon this way.
Besides being a delightful hostess, Valida is a wonderful resource for information about the city. We were telling her that with only a month left in Sarajevo we needed to pick up the pace of our sightseeing schedule. She suggested that we go right away to see the Svrzo house, because it is only a few blocks from the guest house.
The Srvzo house is an immaculately preserved 18th century traditional house. The family who built it were upper class Sarajevans, and it contains examples of the fine locally produced woodwork, textiles, and metal goods as well as imported luxuries that only the wealthy could afford such as Venetian mirrors and Persian carpets.
It’s a self-guided tour, so we were free to poke around upstairs and down, in the selamluk (the public areas of the house, where male guests were received) and the haremluk (the private family and women’s areas, from which we get our somewhat inaccurate western notion of a harem). We met an enthusiastic French literature professor on a two-day whirlwind visit to the city and had some fun interpreting the museum signage into Franglish for her.