Poignant, is the only way to describe the drive into Mostar. I travel the world, yet nothing could prepare me for leaving the countryside and entering the city. Nature has reclaimed a lot of the Bosnian countryside. But, getting closer to the city, the lush green landscapes were replaced by graveyards speckled with white crosses and flowers. Abandoned cars and buildings made up many of the suburban villages. Many of which will never be reclaimed and have lain derelict and decorated with bullet holes since the war of 1992-1996. This former Yugoslavian war zone is a place where history is not only seen in museums, you can feel it surround you. I found the remnants of the war more emotional here than in Kupari because people still live here.
I was extremely apprehensive about leaving the handbag of doom in Mostar because of the Romanian beggars. They seemed to be everywhere requesting money. Neither my photographer nor I witnessed any pick pocketing but we both felt we had to be more aware of our belongings.
Mostar has 3 main religions which live side by side in harmony, with a river and a rather famous bridge in between. Bosnia is a country of threes, three religions, three languages, three regions, three presidents and three currencies. Making it a culture like nowhere else in the world.
The rain was easing and my time in Mostar limited, so I headed straight for Stari Most. The bridge is medieval but sadly had to be rebuilt in 1993. It is very, very, very steep to walk over (whilst avoiding cameras). It has steps for your feet so you cannot slip over, I was happy to see this on the rainy day I visited. I’m sad to say Adventursaurus’ in wheelchairs will have to miss out on crossing this bridge and use a modern bridge as an alternate route. But, I was even happier seeing the two giant dire wolf dogs guarding (and snoozing on) the bridge.
Leaving the bridge behind, I set off to explore the Muslim side of the town. Small cobbled street’s and stone buildings led me through a maze of shops and eateries. Shisha and grilled meat floated in the air, followed by a prayer call. Mostar feels more like Arabia, than a place in Europe. A city scarred by mortar shells gives meaning to the phrase “life goes on”. Some buildings are new, others older, but the majority of the Muslim quarter is filled with a charm I have never seen anywhere. The views leading back to the bridge are beautiful, I doubt a photograph will ever do it justice.
Hungry and running out of time to explore, it was time to head to the Catholic side of the Neretva River. Another apprehension which I had in Mostar was about food. The internet had told me how hard it was to be vegetarian, let alone vegan, in Bosnia. I settled for a pizza and cappuccino in Stari Grad (not very adventurous for an adventursaurus). The best coffee I have ever had the pleasure of drinking, also happens to be the cheapest. Lunch cost €11 for 3 humans and one (very hungry) dinosaur. But, that wasn’t enough, I had discovered something really exciting in Cafe Lasta opposite. Sugar free ice cream. This may seem like nothing but as a dinosaur travelling with humans, one of which is diabetic, I get sad when they can’t join in with the eating. €0.75 later we were all tucking into ice cream with a view of Stari Most.
Once again lost in the charming streets, I headed to the riverside. Which turned out to be flooded, I guess the water from all of the rain had to go somewhere. It is hard to find but well worth it for the view of the Stari Most and surrounding town.
Raining once again, I headed back to the shops, surprised at all of the war memorabilia for sale. I headed back to the bus, for the journey back to my hotel via Neum.
Bosnia and Herzegovina blew my expectations out of the water. It is a country I’d love to explore more. This jam packed tour was with Laus Travel, you can find out more about it here. I can’t recommend it enough and would definitely use them in the future.
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