Im supposed to be in Croatia but im writing this post from a hostel room miles away in Bosnia. I made a spontaneous decision in Montenegro over dinner last night when two Turkish guys walked in and arranged a transfer to Mostar with the owner of the hostel. Bosnia was on the list for my Balkan tour anyway so I jumped at the chance to split the transfer cost with them. €30 for a 3 hour, cross border taxi ride through the mountains sounded like to good a deal to pass up on.
7.30am and I was up and packed, ready to go. We left the bay of Kotor behind and climbed in to the mountains with more amazing views of this insanely beautiful country. An hour or so later and we were parked at the border waiting to get our passports back which for some reason took a while. We hit the road again, the driver seemed all excited and nearly shouted “welcome to Bosnia” with a big smile. He obviously liked this country a lot!
As we got further in to Bosnia the scenery started to change, Mosques started appearing besides churches in quaint looking red roofed villages. The landscape became flatter and the countryside we were rolling through made it another scenic journey.
When we arrived I threw my bag in to the hostel and walked straight in to the old town. The main attraction is the old town bridge (Stari Most) which was a vital link during the war until the Croats blew it up. After the war the bridge was rebuilt from the original stone and stands proud over the river with a stone plaque at one end reading “never forget 93”.
The old town was quiet and really pretty. Pebbled streets with shops selling souvenirs makes it look market like. More Mosques and churches stand side by side in a city where Muslims and Christians live together in peace. But it has not always been that way. I wondered round for a while then stopped for coffee before heading in to the main part of the town.
En-route to the city center, Bosnia’s turbulent past starts to show and parts of the town still look like a war zone with bombed out buildings and walls riddled with bullet holes. The one that stands out the most would be the sniper tower. A tall building that used to be a bank but is now stripped to its concrete shell with the abandoned buildings opposite shredded by bullet and grenade holes. It was an eerie place and I could not even begin to imagine what went on there 20 years ago. For some reason it did not seem right to take pictures so I passed.
This city and its people have been through a lot, the scared buildings, memorials and murals on the walls all hit home. This evening the guy who runs the hostel cooked us all dinner and filled us in on the history before putting on a documentary about the war. Even with all the explanations it’s still way too complicated to work out or even fathom.
I suppose the war is a big part of the attraction that draws visitors to the town. Before any of that happened though, Mostar was the pretty tourist destination it is becoming again and I would highly recommend a visit. You can apparently do it on a day trip from Dubrovnik but you would be missing out not spending at least one night here.