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mistybleu Mostar - A travel report by Amanda
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Mostar,  Bosnia - Herzegovina - flag Bosnia - Herzegovina
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mistybleu's travel reports

A day in Herzegovina

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Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) have always been separate but united - north of Sarajevo is Bosnia and south of Sarajevo is Herzegovina; and I was able to enjoy a day exploring the southern region.

The town of Mostar
The town of Mostar
The conflict during 1992-95 had a devastating impact on the economy of BiH, and ended the once thriving tourism industry. By the time the war was over the physical infrastructure was almost completely destroyed, industrial activity fell by 90% and trade virtually ceased. Over ten years on, the country is being rebuilt (in part by funding from external aid agencies) and the economy has become more buoyant.

The Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina was formed in 1994 and has a fairly small land area of 51 sq km and a population of 4 million, which is split: Bosniak (70%), Croat (28%), Serb (14%) and a small percentage of others (0.6%), which was in part the route of the conflict a decade earlier.

To keep the peace and racial harmony the government is made up of a coalition with a Tripartite Presidency that consists of the three main ethnicities Bosniak, Bosnian Croat and Bosnian Serb.

But with that said, when you enter BiH these are stories told by the guides on the bus tour, but in real life this isn’t really seen.

Sarajevo is the country’s capital with Mostar (the fourth largest in BiH) the major city in Herzegovina. It is situated on the Neretva River and it is said that its name is derived from the old bridge in the centre– Stari Most ie mostari - meaning = the bridge keepers.

The bridge is the focal point for tourists and during the summer you’ll see local divers jumping off for a price; once they have collected enough cash, they jump into the deepest part of the river that looks like at least a fifty feet drop. Depending to the time of year the waters can be quite icy – hmm nice.

Mostar is a wonderful place to explore; we headed for Kujundžiluk – the Turkish quarter, it has narrow cobbled pedestrianised streets with lots of little shops and stalls selling local handicrafts, paintings, bronze works etc. It is also great to see the artisans creating their pieces just at the side of the road.

Favourite spots:
The new 'Old' bridge of Mostar
The new 'Old' bridge of Mostar
Less than 30km south of Mostar is the hillside town of Pocitelj, a Unesco heritage site. It has a wonderful Turkish feel which is full of character of a bygone era.

The main buildings are the Hadzi-Alija Mosque that dates back to 1563, Sisman-Ibrahimpasina Medresa, Gavran Kapetanovic; as well as the Sahat-kula, a silo-shaped fort that sits high on top of the hill - whereby the watchtower enabled defence of the Neretva Valley that lies below.

This town is very old and the building dates back to the when Ottoman Empire took over BiH, which they occupied for some 400 years; everything is made from stone, the houses, roofs, streets and pathways.

This walled community suffered major damage during the recent war, but has now been rebuilt with much of character remaining in tact. This was definitely my favourite place as it was like entering a time warp but only an hour or so is required for exploration.

What's really great:
Town of Pocitelj
Town of Pocitelj
Mostar is split in two by the old bridge; this bridge also separated the ethnic communities of Muslim and Croat and in 1993 the area was flung into the limelight when the world watched as the bridge was brought down by Serbian fire after three days of bombardment. At the time the bridge wasn't a very significant, but it became the symbol of separation and unity.

Being in Mostar allowed me to understand a bit more of the conflict that took place just over a decade ago. It brought home the pictures that I’d seen in the news that at the time seemed like a million miles away. But on this day it became real and I felt for the people who lost their lives, for the children, girls and women that were raped, mass graves, for the families who lost loved ones and the people who fled there homes. But the new beginnings are so evident now, ushering the new era of rebuilding lives. I felt privileged to visit this corner of the world.

The infamous new 'old bridge'
The infamous new 'old bridge'
It is always difficult when only spending a day in a country to get a good overall feel for the place. Mostar is a very popular day trip destination for tourists from Croatia; they come in their hundreds to get a better understanding of this country.

The infamous Stari Most aka the new 'Old Bridge' is very picturesque and is now an iconic historical part of the town and country in general.

Walking along the cobble stone streets definitely takes you back to a time with a simpler existence.

Located on 21 Gase Ilica is a Turkish house turned museum, with its high walled courtyard, the summer part of the building upstairs, the harem etc, it makes it interesting to explore.

Most of the Islamic/Muslim mosques were damaged and it is important to see what was left.

Here are some other places of interest:

Crooked Bridge (Kriva Cuprija), Koskin-Mehmed Pasha's Mosque, Old Orthodox Church Virgin Mary, Sahat Kula (Watch Tower).

As it was only a day trip to BiH, I didn't stay in a hotel but I did notice a few around. I had a drink in the bar of Motel Kriva cuprija; a motel that was built in 1998 and restored in 2006. It is in a great location as you hear the rushing water of the river flowing beneath the Crooked Bridge, another one of the bridges that was destroyed; but this time by an ‘Act of God’. They have recently opened a restaurant but alas, I didn’t try that either but the setting was magical. If I ever return I would definitely consider staying here. I also saw Pansion Botticelli which seemed nice enough, but was more of a B&B as it only had 3 rooms.

But the main thing I noticed was that most people actually didn't stay in the town - they were mostly day trippers. At 3 to 4pm all the coaches departed for their various countries – Slovenia, Croatia etc.

Pictureseque restaurant
Pictureseque restaurant
There are so many restaurants around the town to venture into; my guide said ‘to be fair, the menus are the same and the quality is the same and the price is generally the same so just choose one and feel comfortable you will enjoy your lunch’ – and what do you know she was right.

As I walked around the centre of the town, viewing some of the restaurants, they all seemed very similar, but for me it was the courtyard that made me choose. With the scorching temperatures (during the summer) into the 30s dining alfresco is always my favourite way to eat and sitting along the river was perfect. I ate in Cevaborinica Koscela (well I think that was the name), a wonderful place to sit and watch the world go by.

The great thing about Mostar is that they accept three currencies. Euros are readily accepted as well as the Croatian kunas (kn) and of course BiH konvertibilna marka (km).

Other recommendations:
Coastal town of Neum
Coastal town of Neum
The costal town of Neum isn’t that interesting to visit, but for BiH it is the costal hot spot; what makes it great is that Neum is protected from the strong sea winds by the Peljesac Peninsula (Croatia) and therefore the sea is so calm; almost mirror like.

BiH is nearly a landlocked country; apart from a 22km stretch of land that opens onto the Adriatic Sea. This part of BiH separates Dubrovnik from the rest of Croatia.

This little town, come ‘holiday resort’ is very popular with the Croats as it is so much cheaper than Dubrovnik and along the Dalmatian Coast and it’s only around 60km away.

The weather is also perfect and averages around 32 degrees during July and August; I was there in May and the weather was probably around 30 so it was true to form. You’re kept busy by sunbathing, water sports and long walks along the coastline. Further inland is quite mountainous and I wasn’t told of any paths to explore but I’m sure they must have some nice walks available.

Published on Thursday July 17th, 2008

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Sun, Feb 21 2010 - 12:20 AM rating by porto

Excellent report Amanda, inspiring for any would be visitor here. :)

Mon, Aug 25 2008 - 04:13 PM rating by brucemoon

Again, Amanda, a great report.

Pity the sunbaking kept you from exploring; but what the heck.

Jealous of your dining adventure.

Keep well.

Sun, Jul 27 2008 - 04:35 AM rating by louis

As always. Top level, it was pleasure to read your report.

Tue, Jul 22 2008 - 07:44 AM rating by marianne

Excellent description and photos, you have made me want to visit

Mon, Jul 21 2008 - 12:08 PM rating by here-i-come

TQ Amanda for reliving my past with Mostar and the many other villages you may have also visited but were not mentioned. It brought joy at a point but left more sadness as I continue reading your experience of postwar days from the recent genocide Milosevic and his "Tiger" Serbs attempted on the rest. As a Catholic, I was warmly hosted by a dear Muslim couple (for 3 nights when they knowingly accepted my journey to Medugorje was of a pilgrimage trip) who are no more in existence due to the bloody massacre of that region. My prayers are for them and will hail them for their sins if any, by Our Lord in accepting them with forgiveness... for they brought much tears to me when I could no more get in touch with them after 1991. TQ Amanda... for your courage to travel to Mostar and reliving my spirits I shall someday make the journey again by road. Good job on this report, it humbled me awesomly.


Fri, Jul 18 2008 - 04:35 PM rating by aufgehts

Very interesting, Amanda. I remember very well when the bridge in Mostar was blown up and I always thought the town looked so pretty, the country so mysterious. I'm glad to hear that the area seems to be doing well and rejuvinating itself. Lucky for you to visit, even if for a day!

Fri, Jul 18 2008 - 12:19 PM rating by krisek

Thank you Amanda for a great report and brilliant pictures. Now, I want to go to Mostar and Pocitelj. If they accept three different currencies, do they provide prices in all three, do you need to carry a calculator?

Fri, Jul 18 2008 - 08:16 AM rating by eirekay

Amanda, I always enjoy the personal perspectives in your reports! I too would have reacted to the waste of war. It sounds like a moving trip!

Fri, Jul 18 2008 - 05:57 AM rating by jorgesanchez

Good description of a town that has suffered a lot.

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