Subject: Sarajevo-London over the Holidays: Cold!
Hi Ziners and welcome to the New Year!

In August, the idea of Christmas in Sarajevo and London sounded good. In December, it turned out snowy, icy and wet. But still a good trip and I had a good time.

I didn't need to have five days in Sarajevo; three would have been more than enough. But I did enjoy the time there. Like Beruit, there are still signs of the past conflict along with the lovely old building and the newly built structures. Covered with a blanket of snow, it was a lovely sight. There are shops, museums, chuches, mosques and graveyards throughout the City and I wandered around many of them.

I stayed in Halvat Guest house, a five bedroom establishment on the edge of the Old City. It was one of the best places I've stayed in, quite modern and very comfortable. Cost was about $50 a night single with breakfast. For a small additional amount, transportation to and from the airport was provided. The owners/operators lived next door and had been in Sarajevo during the seige. But they, like others I talked with, didn't want to discuss that time; they were moving on. No one seemed terribly enthused about the present government. The attitude was similiar to what I had found in Iran: the government offered little so just get on with your own life as best you can.

I ate at various places: from local fast food places to a rather elegant Italian restaurant. The food was okay but not worth any Michelin stars. Good meaty soups and sausage rolls. The small shops in the Turkish Quarter were interesting and the owners, those who spoke English, happy to talk. I ran into one former NBC employee who was eager to show me his old ID.

I did get tickets to two events: one was the Christmas program at the National Theatre which was jam packed with a rather dressy crowd. I had obtained a returned ticket and was seated with several elegantly dressed men in boxlike seats. The program was nice: The Sarajevo Philharmonic with bits and pieces of operatic arias ending with several familiar Christmas carols.

The next night was a performance by the Balet Norodnog Pozorista Sarajevo, a full length ballet based on a Sephardim family. The company was good enough, influenced by Graham, but the audience was sparse. Regardless, I enjoyed the evening

Then into London. I was a little concerned about the flight out of Sarajevo as all other flights had been cancelled. But Alitalia soldiered on through the snow flurries and I arrived in London Christmas Day evening. And Christmas Day is the day there is NO public transit. Fortunately, I lived right. There were buses to Paddington - and Paddington only - and my hotel was two blocks away. So I avoided the $100 cab fare into London!

And here too is was cold and snowing. But I settled in at the Prince William Hotel which turned out to be better than expected. Info about it on the Internet had been pretty negative but, other than having a cold corner room with two floor-to-ceiling windows, it was fine. However, the radiator and the small space heater could not keep up with the outside air coming in the uninsulated windows. Until it warmed up a bit several days later, I had blankets, quilts and my coat piled atop me at night - and that was with the heaters on!

London was, as always, great. This was about my 20th trip so I don't have to constantly refer to a map. I had several things I planned and others that were worth a look into. I did get to the Imperial War Museum (never been there before) for the TE Lawrence exhitition and another having to do with The Secret War (SOE, MI 5 & operations, etc) and to the Theatre Museum to see the Kenneth McMillan and Redgrave family exhitibitions.

There were four dance events: two Nutcrackers - of which the English National Ballet's was the most interesting - a rather unique Pinocchio and Matthew Bourne's Edward Sissorhands. I did get to Billy Elliott which was all it was cracked up to be and should be on Broadway within a year. The young lead's dancing was spectacular.

I saw six other plays, all of which were good, but two were outstanding: Schiller's Mary Stuart and Ibsen's The Wild Duck. Both had me completly engulfed. I also got to The Wigmore for a New Year's Eve choral concert and a New Year's Day morning event. Also ate at their restaurant; very good meal for reasonable price.

Again, food: there are a number of restaurants I go to in London and I didn't get to many of them. Did eat at the two cheapies on Panton street near Haymarket that I like so well and the more expensive Le Cafe du Jardin near the Royal Opera House that has such a good pre-theatre special.

Despite rain and snow I walked from place to place. It was only when trudging down from the West End to Victoria that the rain did me in and I took a bus. I didn't have the time this trip to do any of the London Walks, more's the pity. But there will be another year!

Now, off to Tunisia rather then Libya in February - the Libyans are not granting visas to US citizens and not letting those in where they had earlier granted the visas. Ah, but it's all a crap shoot.

Jo in Sunnyvale