I emailed Sarajevo Funky Tours late one night as I had hopes of arranging a last-minute tour for the next morning in Sarajevo. I was in Tuzla, visiting a fellow Canadian friend working there. I noted that the minimum # was 3 persons, but the website was welcoming and friendly, so I thought I'd send an email anyhow. It was quite late at night, but sure enough, I had a kind email an hour later accepting my request, at a somewhat increased but very reasonable price. I was so happy that everything was responded to so quickly, thus allowing my plans to form for the next day! Who says spur-of-the-moment plans can't come together perfectly!
Skender (my/your guide) met me at the bus station, on time (and likely a bit early, as my bus was running late). It was immediately obvious that he is an intelligent, friendly, well-spoken young man. He has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Sarajevo, a city he obviously loves and knows extremely well. He lived through the war as a child, and has intimate knowledge of the conditions at that time.
My experience that day was one of mixed emotions. I was very sad (obviously -- visiting the War Tunnel is incredibly moving), but also encouraged by how the Bosnians have succeeded in rebuilding their city over the years.
I know without a doubt that if I had just simply taken in the sights on my own, it would not have been the same. I could have seen the buildings and hillsides of the city, but would not have understood what they meant to the people, or the history or implications behind them. This tour brought the city to life. There are some cities which I think you can properly experience without explanation or narration, but Sarajevo is not one of them.
Moreover, this isn't an indifferent, pro-forma tour -- this is an interactive, thoughtful, and personal experience. You are not a number, you are an individual. I felt as though I was combing the city with a true friend. Skender spent a lot of extra time with me, on his own accord, as my bus was leaving later in the day and he wanted me to see more of the city before I left. I was originally worried I couldn't fill up 6 hours, but it passed by in a flash. I wish I had more time in Sarajevo, to explore the markets and the night life. An overnight visit would have been ideal. (As a side note, I learned that the tour owner runs a hostel in the centre of town. He kindly let me use the washroom at one point, making a bit of a detour toward it. If it's anything like the tour, I'm sure it's an impeccably-run place.)
I appreciated the video clips he showed along the way. The footage was graphic but important to see to get a feeling of what the citizens suffered through. I also liked how he sat with me in the Tunnel museum, translating the video itself, whereas I'm sure a 'lesser' guide would have plunked me in front of the screen like a Kindergartener watching Sesame Street. He made it very clear that this was to be MY experience of Sarajevo, encouraging me to take my time and take as many photographs as I liked. He was kind enough to act as photographer for some of my pictures! I filled up the whole memory card on my camera -- there were that many beautiful sights to see...
Sarajevo is one of Europe's most beautiful and historically complex cities and it'd be a shame to see it without the perspective only someone who's intimately familiar with the war can provide. I give this tour 5 stars without any hesitation, and would encourage anyone to spend a day or (preferably) two in this incredible city. Thanks, Sarajevo Funky Tours, for a lovely and memorable experience! It shall remain, in my memory, as one of THE absolute best day tours I've ever done.