Finding myself standing alone on the abandoned 1984 Sarajevo Olympic Bobsleigh & Luge track, was in the simplest and most overused American adjectives- Amazing!
I had just learned about it hours before while I was on a free walking tour of Sarajevo. I overheard another traveler talking about it and my wanderlust mind took over, “What? Say that again?” I felt that I was in the right place at the right time because I had no idea that this track existed. She briefly explained how to get to the gondolas that would take me up the mountains, but I would have to find the tracks myself because they were not visible. I was up for the challenge.
Video Watch – On the abandoned and graffitied 1984 Olympic Bobsleigh Track
After lunch at the legendary Inat Kuca- the Spite House, I started walking in the direction that I was told and of course I over shot it. Luckily, a storeowner saw my perplexed looked, and decided that I needed help. He intuitively asked me if I was looking for the bobsled track- Why yes sir, I am! I assume that most people wandering along the side of the mountain were looking for the tracks, so he pointed the way and off I went.
The gondolas that bring you up the side of the mountain were new and modernized, as well as the motorized track. Renovations began in 2014, which also includes the bobsleigh track with the ultimate goal of returning it to a fully serviceable condition. The hopes are to host future sliding competitions, and training teams from around the world.
In the year I had visited the tracks, which was shortly before the pandemic of 2020, it had just re-opened. I did not know what to expect but it looked to me that the tracks were still in need of extensive repairs.
The ride up to the bobsleigh tracks inside the pristine gondolas was nothing short but magnificent. The valley views of Sarajevo, saturated with red roof tops were stunning. The city from above was breathtaking and looked peaceful. It was mind-blowing to think that just three decades before, the city was at war during the Siege of Sarajevo from 1992 to 1996.
During the siege, Bosnian Serb forces had used the tracks as an artillery position, and had a military advantageous view of the city. As a result, there are war wounds on the track with defensive fighting holes drilled into the last turn of the bobsled course. After the end of the war, the track had been used for bicycling and graffiti until the commencement of renovations in 2014.
Finding the start of the tracks was either luck or logic (or both), since I was told by the man who I bought an ice cream from to turn left. Thank you sir for those explicit instructions and for my choco-berry ice cream. So it was just me and my chocolate treat, on my way to find the abandoned bobsleigh tracks. I actually should not give the ice cream man grief, because I did turn left and I found it.
It might have been my sense of being aware of my surroundings, a bit of logic, and my will of impulsiveness that I stepped up on an unassuming concrete ledge. It was far back from the path that I was on and I could have walked right past it. I quickly saw the ledge and found my legs heading straight for it. That voice inside of me that typically says “Be careful” was non-existent.
I climbed up on that concrete ledge and started walking, licking the remains of my ice cream, and followed the cement path into the lush forest. Then I saw it, the remnants of the abandoned 1984 Olympic bobsleigh tracks amongst the overgrown trees.
It was a surreal feeling walking along the graffitied curved walls of the deteriorating concrete tracks, in the middle of a wooded forest. It was quiet and it was just me. It was one of those defining travel moments of, how the hell did I get here? I was far from home, traveling solo, and now wandering along abandoned Olympic bobsleigh tracks in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was damn awesome!
In hindsight, I believe luck was on my side when I came to Sarajevo and visited the abandoned tracks. I saw it in a stage of its existence in a primal state, before it is renovated further to become a working bobsled track again. I thought it was sensational from the colorful graffiti, the overgrown foliage, and the quietness of the mountains.
I am glad that Sarajevo is making the efforts to bring back the tracks into working condition, especially after its life of being an artillery position during the Siege of Sarajevo. It would be bringing life energy back to a location that had caused much death 30 years ago.
Sometimes when we explore the world, we come across places that are intriguing and make us think and feel. My day leading up to finding myself on the abandoned bobsled track was eventful, but became more stupendous when I rode the gondolas up the mountain, and wandered onto the concrete tracks.
One day these sled tracks will be back to its glory days, until then if you find yourself on the graffitied tracks, consider yourself lucky and thank the Travel Gods!
Wanderlust (n)- a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world.
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📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre