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Safija’s Night at Hotel Park for Her Beloved Count

 

There are all kinds of love. At first sight, at first kiss, those that over and over again feel like the first time, no matter how many times over.

 

There are platonic loves too. And there are also eternal loves.

 

Forbidden love, that of Austrian Count Johann von Herberstein and Sarajevan begovica Safija, in early years of last century, was immortal. Two of them were coming from different worlds, but their love was so pure, so strong that even laments and curses of her father Ahmet Bey could not stop it.

 

And so, despite all the differences of the worlds from which they were, begovica became Countess Von Herberstein.

 

They shared many passions … for travel, food and music.

 

Safija would often leave her beautiful house in Čekaluša street, in a quiet part of Sarajevo, to go to Vienna, into arms of her beloved Johan. And than she would come back and would go again.

 

She liked to drop by city of Split, which, just like her Johan, stole her heart. A favourite and dearest destination of this loving couple was hotel Park. Sometimes she would come alone, while her count was away on one of his frequent business trips, to relive every moment she spent there with her beloved.

 

As it is a long way from Vienna to Sarajevo, Count and Countess would usually stop for a rest at their favourite hotel. Safija, who did everything that every day would be wonderful and different to her beloved, decided to make a surprise.

 

Bonded by love for one another, love of adventure, love of Split, they also shared the love for delicious seafood specialties of this beautiful hotel.

 

 

Safija knew that her beloved, all the while falling in love with her -Sarajevo begovica, was also falling in love with sofra being prepared in her house in Čekaluša street.

 

Begovica sent a letter, unbeknownst to Johan, to her personal chef on March 15, 1922. She told him that he is to come on Friday March 31st from Sarajevo to Split, in order to quickly teach chefs in hotel Park how to make baklava and how to prepare burek.

 

All this she did out of love for Johan. Austrian count was delighted with Bosnian cuisine, and Safija knew that her personal chef was a superb master who will not let her down.

 

In her ornate handwriting she sent a message:

“My darling and favourite chef, you who turn flour, walnuts and sugar into the best baklava in the world, you who turn flour, meat, onions and aromatic spices into the best burek in the world, be in Split on March 31st and teach our dear friends at Park how to make delicious Bosnian dishes.

 

Make sure that proper Bosnian coffee is served, one in džezvica. You know that is the favourite of my beloved Johan. And together with our Split friends prepare an unforgettable night.

 

Prepare for us those wines we like so much. You know that Johan loves to have a glass of Herzegovinian red, of your choice, at bedtime. And yes, in the end, please let Barimatango play for us as the night falls over our beautiful Split. You who understand my love for Johan, for Split, you know that when one has nothing else to talk about, one can always talk about the food, because food is one of loves that bind us.

 

Until we meet in Split soon, have warm greetings from yours truly, Countess Von Herberstein.